In the multitude of post-punk albums released in past few years, it is difficult to find some having what Roland Barthes called “punctum” in Camera Lucida: the wounding, personally touching detail that establishes a direct relationship of the maker with the object of his art – a point, a singularity, allowing a certain work to stand out. I’m not 100% sure that VR Sex’s new record Rough Dimensions has such a quality.
VR SEX is one of the many creatures of Andrew Clinco, here performing on vocals under the name Noel Skum – “an acerbic anagram of Elon Musk” – the evil twin of his Deb Demure persona from his other outlet Drab Majesty. The two share the same interest in a heavily ’80s-inspired sound, with new wave as the most prominent influence. But where Drab Majesty indulge in padded shoulders and sculpted hairstyles, VR SEX digs deep into the filthiest creases of that era’s soundscapes. Their palette is messy and dirty, raw, rough – and, strangely enough, quintessentially British. It’s strange because this is an album written in Marseille, France, by a musician originally from Los Angeles; it appears Clinco has learned quite a lot about what was going on in the UK between 1978 and 1982, when synths and punk began to collide in productive fashion.
Singing about the corruption of the modern world over a pounding, distressing drum beat, in their own words, “VR SEX’s specialty is making these cautionary tales of psychic decay and tainted love a thrill rather than a drag.” But, rather than thrilled, the claustrophobia and overload of the 37 minutes the nine tracks span over leave the listener bewildered and starved of air. Exiting this rough dimension feels like a relief – and it’s a pity because there are nonetheless a lot of interesting passages scattered throughout this record.
Subscribers to Loud And Quiet now receive a limited edition flexi disc of a rare track with their copy of the magazine
This month’s disc is from Detroit punk band Protomartyr