Friday, April 09, 2010

Author Graham Reid on 'Zipless'

"There is sexy music and there is sex music.

And there can be quite a difference between the two in execution.

Prince made a lot of sex music but slightly less sexy music; Donna Summer and Jane Birkin brought orgasms to music -- and so did Yoko Ono who screamed it to the ceiling and beyond.

Ono was sex, the other two sexy. Sometimes Grace Jones could be both.

Sexy music -- the stuff you might want to play while engaging with someone while the lights are dimmed and the phone is off the hook -- will come in many forms. Doubtless you know someone for whom Tool or Linkin Park is their ideal sex music. I'm pleased to say I don't think I do.

But when it comes to mood pieces for "that" moment then there are the ever reliables such as Miles Davis' Kind of Blue or the soundtrack to The Hot Spot where Davis teamed up with John Lee Hooker to deliver something very sultry and sex-soaked.

Into this world of steamy windows and heavy breathing came Vanessa Daou, an American multi-talent (painter, poet and dancer) whose Zipless album was inspired by the work of her husband/producer Peter's aunt Erica Jong who wrote of the "zipless fuck" in her '73 novel Fear of Flying.

Vanessa Daou had come from the electronica underground in New York and she'd almost perfected a more sensual style which made Sade sound vapid and asexual. Daou was a heavy breather in the manner of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg's Je t'aime, but also brought a poetic spin to things.


Electronica beats keep their distance, a saxophone eases in from down the corridor, pianos play slow and sensuously, and everywhere is Daou's remarkable voice spinning out poetry worth reading or barely suggesting melodies as if she is too sated to rouse herself fully.

It is about carnal need as much as sexual passion and delight, and sometimes a wish not to be driven by such fevers: "I think I can live without it, love with its pumping blood ... sex with its messy hungers" she speak-sings unconvincingly on Becoming a Nun.

This is electronica erotica, aural sex and the perfect soundtrack to . . .

Well, not doing dishes.

It is, as they say, an album for "special occasions".


Graham Reid is an award winning writer & journalist - In 2005 Graham wrote a book of travel stories published by Random House, Postcards from Elsewhere which won the Whitcoulls Travel Book of the Year award in 2006.

Read his full post on Zipless on his blog Elsewhere

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