"I TURNED HER OVER and went for that ass. It's always hard to tell how a girl's gonna react to having her shitter licked, so I asked her first if it'd be okay. Tyler was into it. My kind of broad." And so goes the collection of short erotica showcased in the CD book to Cex's new album, Actual Fucking. Cex—which is to Rjyan Kidwell as Bright Eyes is to Conor Oberst—solicited stories from friends around the country to serve as a companion piece to the record. We get an account of being "15, surly, and goth" and hooking up with an older gay guy on a Miami Beach vacation. There's threesomes, "hot girl action" in a Chicago bathroom, and a tour story based in Portland. ("So a couple years back my band played this gig in Portland, Oregon," it begins.)
Rjyan hopes this will help people cast off the shackles of neo-puritanical restraint and says, "Actual Fucking is eight funky songs about breaking free from things like guilt and shame, which exist purely to keep you from doing exactly what you want to be doing, and eight explicit stories about getting it on the way people really get it on." He says the record and stories should "represent the beginning of a real stand the younger generations of this country need urgently to make against the repressive morality of the Baby Boomers."
The CD follows suit with 40 minutes of orchestral sex jams juxtaposing Kidwell's gothy flows against Roby Newton's (Milemarker) airy clean vocals, or Joan of Arc's Tim Kinsella croaking out beautifully garish lines. The record begins with Dirty Projectors-style faux-afro-jazz percussion over sleigh bells. Songs come racing out ornate and filled with groaning robot burps or hiphop beats that drop away, leaving a bare, sawing violin that's straight out of Appalachia. Warm, crackling laptop noise floods in with samples; electronic drums rage up then disappear into vapors. There are acoustic guitars, songs that begin with arena-rock drums that stop, and then slow into a lurching jazzscape. Sometimes it feels industrial but then it's folk, triphop, R&B. But the best thing is, it's always cohesive, adding up—at the end—to a 40-minute art-rap tapestry. And as the fires burn and the Ewoks dance and play bongo drums on Stormtrooper helmets, Kidwell gazes off past the celebration and feasting and sees the pale, flickering ghosts of Henry Miller, DH Lawrence, and a younger, un-scarred Marquis de Sade, smiling and proud.