Review: Sex Funeral – Forgotten, hardly written


Sex Funeral started as the Iowan basement jams between Matthew Crowe and Bob Bucko, Jr., with no particular plans to carry the music out into the open. While they’ve since released a bunch of records and started gigging on the regular, their output hasn’t shaken its origins in sub-level secrecy. The warmth and weight of these explorations feels particular to a cultivation in private: an energy brewed within a single room by the two bodies that frequently convene there, congealed in the dark over years of intense experimentation, seldom spoken about upon re-emerging into the harsh light and air of the world outside. I imagine that any furnishings in this basement – the sofa, the curtains – carry the rich musk of these organ drones and saxophones, like cigar smoke drenching the fabric over countless practice hours, taking permanent residence in the room in absence of any discernible exit.

The duo’s fixation on melting pitches and speeds alludes to the basement as a zone of muddled time, where the trajectory of sound is disrupted like light through water. Perhaps those decelerating tape delays aren’t a result of pedal FX, but a raw symptom of the room’s refractive atmosphere, with each plop of percussion emerging again and again as the “now” starts to feel like a rather tenuous thing. Similarly, I’d have sworn that the distorted chord that ripples through the album’s opening moments comes from an electric guitar, yet the sound never decays, resonating with the same strength after minute five as during its initial triumphant announcement. Something strange is afoot here, and soon enough I acclimatise. During the moments of quiet (which Sex Funeral exploit to beautifully brittle effect) I’m ready for anything: a flock of saxophones that sweeps the space like starlings, a drum machine played with roof-leak intermittency, the trickle of running water. Yet regardless of how disparate and unusual the textures are, Forgotten, hardly written feels less like an exercise in spontaneous eccentricity and more a coherent dialogue that only the players, and whatever sentient presence we may prescribe to the basement, are capable of fully understanding.