To be “cutting edge” in today’s mainstream is of little consequence given how the term, and terms like it, is so overused in our over-marketed culture. Try telling this to a pornographer, however, and it will ring both offensive and foreign to him or her. Cutting edge is not so much a buzzword or a concept in pornography as it is a virtue. It is something that pornography must always be on if it is to endure in these chaotic times of recession and Internet rapacity. The seriousness with which it treats the cutting edge is perhaps best exemplified by its finally figuring out how to reconcile romance with sexiness without deteriorating into sleaziness, in addition to realizing that sexiness and sleaziness are two different things. Even so, there is always room for improvement in any industry, and there are still things that pornography can and should address for its own benefit, and by extension the world’s benefit. Film scores, for instance, prove a staggering challenge to pornography’s endurance.
What used to be kind of fitting and kind of funny in porn scores is now either laughably unsexy or depressing beyond reasonable measure. In fact nothing depresses quite as fast as the music that emanates from a pornographic film, not even a Joy Division record can quite match it. The sheer hopelessness of it seems entirely impossible to overcome. Understandably, a sensitive ear doesn’t always seem as crucial to pornography as its other aspects, but a sensitive ear might be just what it needs right now. An ear that can appreciate the force actual music brings to any art form, let alone one so sex-driven. One with such an ear can be taken in any direction, but if one needs some help in order to look like both a genius and someone compliant to the industry’s needs, one can do no better than to bring Russian Circles to its collective attention.
Since Russian Circles generally lacks a vocalist to deliver some sort of message—even if that message is that there is no message—the listener must be guided by the music itself. This seems more than a little obvious since music itself is the end rather than the mean, but it is also very risky if one is not careful. Listening to an instrumental band can be like walking half-naked into a Nor’easter, and clearly some bands (Mogwai, Pelican) thrive on that force. Russian Circles, thankfully, is more merciful than that. Mind you their sound is heavy, but there is, for lack of a better word, a concentration to it, a higher purpose if you will. The stiff pummel of the lowest of low end bass lines, the interchangeable hard charge grind and looping, effects-laden melody of the guitars indicates to the listener that, above all else, Russian Circles is the sonic incarnation of sex, more to the point, dreary, dewy, foggy, overcast sex in the wet orange leaves.
From the chugging start of “309” to the focused thundering of “Mladek” and “Atackla” to the somber afterglow of “Praise Be Man,” Russian Circles dismantles inhibitions layer by layer until everyone and everything is naked, afraid and exhilarated. The sound of Russian Circles is the sound of tension being tightened, secrets being revealed, desire frothing over, and asses being treated in a heterodox manner. A sort of fine-tuned degradation of the body, something like Shivers, Caligula and Face Invaders 4 embodied in one post-metal symphony.
With this band as the catalyst, the changes in how pornography is made in viewed would not be limited merely to audio. Indeed, for pornography to fully embrace Russian Circles, the films themselves must be revolutionized. A film’s length would be extended to equal that of an average American workday, the sex scenes themselves consisting mostly of shots of a character’s pet watching off to the side or through the slit of a cracked door. The films will be scant in way of availability, most of them being distributed to the cement in the foundations of new newly constructed or expanded public schools. This of course will not prevent the films from being greedily sought after by fans and authorities alike. Such is the power of a devastating, loin-numbing low end.
Red Sparowes – The Fear is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer
Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Pelican – What We All Come to Need
Stream: Russian Circles – “Mladek”