Dusted Features

It's Getting Hot In Here: HEAVYBreathing

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Features

Kate Hensley locks the door and dims the light for a night in with Normal Records' HEAVYBreathing compilations.

It's Getting Hot In Here: HEAVYBreathing

Erotica comes from one of the Greek terminologies for love, Eros. Further research on Eros reveals that it’s more in reference to self-love. A famous self-love manual, Sex For One by Betty Dodson, teaches the basics of being sexually honest, pioneering the closed-door world of masturbation. Normal’s HEAVYBreathing series is the obvious musical Eros, the proper mood setting for Dodson followers, complete with a peephole to the world’s steamiest, seamiest, most well-hidden musicians’ bedrooms, giving permission to voyeurs and sexual deviants alike. Furthermore, it’s a social serenade, one that hopefully opens prudent eyes to the spread eagle world, allowing the common public to express themselves shamelessly.

As a single twentysomething woman, I donate an ovation to this series of delicious, desirous, lusty tunes from across the globe. Hot, sweaty and X-rated, most of these tracks have the vain ability to make one fluster, fumble and grow entirely rouge from tempted lip to dripping forehead. In a decade that finally does not entirely concede that sex is a devious, dubious act done only by Satan’s followers, the Heavybreathing series is a nod of approval to all those who freely endure and explore sexuality with little to no restraint, tossing any “slut” or “loose-belted” or “amoral” franchise associated with casual or anonymous sex to the winds of yesteryear, approaching subjectively the concept of sex as most of us in the corporate world approach everything else: give and receive as quickly and replaceably as possible.

No, it’s not exploitation, rather a frisky, delightful exploration in one of the bodily mysteries of humanity, of the undeniable taste of raised serotonin levels upon orgasm, and how this has been demystified in music.

The tracks have all the appeal of Brigitte Bardot or Jane Birkin, with an orgasmic orchestra to boot, complete with climax and naughty whines, moans, guttural spongy wailings, smackings, delighted bedroom speech – even the wah-wah guitar rhythms yanked straight from someone’s ’70s porn stash. It’s both torture and audible tantric foreplay, leaving interpretation to the listener, as usual. Some will be offended, careening the top button of their starched white collar shut with a toss of the head; others will be bluntly turned on, closing and locking bedroom doors, dimming the lights and allowing old favorite sex toys to resurface.

About the music itself, the series is arranged in a four-part volume of sex-derived/driven music. The first one, Bite It!, comes from the raunchy Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic of the same title, in which eventually Hawkins roars, “Let’s bite it one time!” (and later, “Let’s eat it one time!” with a female’s vocals panting, “Meow, meow!”). This seems indicative of how the first volume in the series was arranged, delving voraciously into liberating obscenities. Hawkins was a definitive character in his own rite, preceding performing greats like Alice Cooper with audacity and overall smack and attitude. Given this, Bite It! entails bawdy R’n’R tracks as well as slick European electronica, even one Jean Seberg, a deceased Iowan actress, who moans delicately in a shuddering ecstasy. The utter tangibility of the rockabilly duo John and Jackie with their track “Little Girl” creates a distinctly ’50s backside style to a checkered, juke-boxed sexuality complete with high-pitched suggestive kitten moans, coating the tune with irony. A humorous and singles-supported ’70s version of “Me and My Vibrator” by Suzie Seacell delivers pro-independent-female roars, winding into a battery-powered orgasm. Lotte and Leherb are featured performing “Irre Gut,” which is the Viennese version of porn on CD (this being one of those moments when I feel sadly American, knowing not what they say). Equally sleazy is Rare Earth’s album version of “Come With Me,” which is almost an expected choice for the compilation given the soulful lust accompanying each instrument. One of the most fascinating tracks discovered was “Bedspring Symphony” by Erotica, where bongos seem to jumpstart the bedsprings, whereupon we hear a panting, moaning, screaming, almost painful human reaction. It reminded me of the panorama scene in Delicatessen, where it’s a building full of people copulating noisily, symphonizing if you will.

The second compilation, Thrill Me!, is a decoupage of the Black community’s influence and determination in erotic music. The implications of this choice in categorization are wide and varying, possibly controversial, but ultimately should be read as nothing less than complimentary. This implies not that Black musicians focus purely and simply on sexuality, rather that their scope is not limited; it’s varying, unanimous, democratic, just. The song after which this volume is named, by James Rivers, appears to be straight out of the 1970s version of a juke joint, the singer hailing her lovely “black man” to love her and thrill her “good” and “strong,” a perfect anecdote to inhale the rest of this tempting air.

Once again, infectious grooves abound, beats that stir up devious behaviors, delivering saucy moans, wails, infallible orgasms made audible, lots of the soul era wah-wah effect with overt bass lines and echoing horn sections. Luckily, this one lacks the pandemonium of an instructional guide to sex and sexual behavior. Instead, it is purely a palpable version of sex, one without proclamation of right or wrong, a glorifying of the deed. In such tracks as the Chackachas’ “Jungle Fever,” the woman gives into her partner’s sexual donation in surround sound (truly the “no” meant “yes” in this bedroom), ending in an intense, juicy release, celebrated by a swingin’ guitar riff and horn section. Swamp Dogg’s “If it Hadn’t Been For Sly” features less than expected lyrics about Sly Stone and the panting noises of a woman with a broken leg trying to finish the last half of a marathon. “Hexstatic Rewind” is certainly like sex on acid, with a painfully relentless beat drowned in an echo chamber of saxophone and electronic dialings, where the female falls into plunging underwater depths, still loudly heaving. Kool Keith’s “Lick My Ass” is one blushing, voyeuristic minute. And Lil’ Kim? It’s almost anti-climatic to feature one of contemporary pop culture’s sex icons on a compilation of such obscure sexy music.

The first and last tracks sum it up best: “Ooh, Midnight” by Pete Lewis and Esther Phillips and “Aphrodisiskratch” by DJ QBert. The first one maintains a classic HEAVYBreathing statement, a reveling in nightly hours being the right time, Phillips with an uncharacteristically scratchy vocal, moaning disreputably, reminding the listener of the time; midnight, laden with thick-as-molasses Chicago blues. DJ QBert reveals what muddles sexuality most: media. Misrepresentation, indecipherable obscurities, black-and-white as opposed to gray areas, etc. All these notions echoed in his samplings from television.

Much of the reason for the release of the HEAVYbreathing compilations was to prove to listeners, both trashy and prudish, that musicians have been bold enough to incite sexy lyrics and groans in music for nearly a century, at least as far as recorded history goes. Freedom in sexuality exists more comfortably in some countries than others, and certain expectations are held of certain genders in other cultures, which is made bountifully clear throughout the varying styles of orgasm…though conspicuously mostly female. I don’t deny its sexiness, but I do wonder if Normal Records, a German label, is simply reflecting its findings or knowingly advocating a certain brand of Eros. Let’s face it, most record geeks are guys.

By Kate Hensley

Read More

View all articles by Kate Hensley

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.