By Ann Clarke
It’s been a while since I’ve written any reviews about anything, mainly because I can’t fucking stand new shit, because that is what it is—SHIT! However, sometimes you hear something and it compels you to expel your thoughts in a written context, basically excreting your reaction upon observation. In this particular case, that would be the album Tighten That Muscle Ring by Hirsute Pursuit. This might not be a brand new release (it came out in 2012, so it isn’t old, either), but it is new to my ears.
I wanted to publish this review during the month of June since it’s Pride Month and because I have NEVER heard anyone that is as proud to be gay as the fellas in Hirsute Pursuit! They take their pride to parts unknown. With the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and Prop 8, the gay pride is at an all-time high, but for the two that are Hirsute Pursuit (Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall), they clearly aren’t thinking about anything marital when composing their songs. In fact, these are the types of guys that would be out even if it meant the death penalty! Laws or not . . . these guys are going to cause some butt-hurt to someone!
The content of their tunes is purely sexual! I don’t think they talk about anything else but gay sex! We are not talking about “love-making”—there is no love in these songs! This is filthy fucking and sucking—almost like prison-sex—the shit you are afraid of! There is nothing indistinct about this entire album; everything is either shoved down your throat, or up your ass (and I don’t even mean that metaphorically!). This is Hirsute Pursuit’s sophomore effort (their 2007 album was called That Hole Belongs to Me) so they are in it to win it!
Upon first listening, what Tighten That Muscle Ring immediately reminded me of was another perverse underground, electronic, musical, sex-focused troupe out of Boston known as Sleep Chamber. They sound quite a bit alike with their delivery of monotone commands. The first track on Muscle Ring is a cover of David Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging,” and the vocals are delivered by the infamous Boyd Rice. This is done in a minimalist fashion, and since it is a cover, I wasn’t fully sure what to expect after the song was over. There is a video, and this is probably the only Hirsute Pursuit song that could ever be broadcast without censorship.
What was to cum (I mean, come) afterwards were more monotone vocals (very much in tune with John Zewizz of Sleep Chamber), but these aren’t about sex magick or sordid hetero/S&M stories; this is gay sex, with no other agenda but to depict gay sex! I also need to note this is masculine. VERY MASCULINE! If you were to ever assume gay men were all wimpy males that you could just beat up on (and if you think an acceptable way of interacting with anyone you don’t understand is with derision and violence, then YOU need to fuck off!) Hirsute Pursuit is here to set your ass straight! (No pun intended.)
These are the types of guys that could easily kick the shit out of any fucking meathead that thinks that assaulting gays is funny, but these guys will take it a step further. They won’t just kick your ass; they will fuck, it too. Like animals rutting in the wild, they’ll fight for dominance, and win . . . then of course, claim-fuck their victory.
The men of Hirsute Pursuit are known as “Bears” in gay cultural terms. They project an image of hyper-masculinity, but picture that on steroids. Their band name couldn’t be more perfect in regards to not just their lifestyle, but also their sound.
The collaborations don’t end with Boyd Rice. The late Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson (Throbbing Gristle, Coil, video director, etc.) also contributed two tracks to this record (I assume these are more or less remixes of original material by Hirsute Pursuit). One is entitled “One Sleazy Night in Bangkok” (which was where Christopherson was living around the time of his death), and “One Sleazy Night in New Orleans.”
The first of the two “sleazies” is really typical of Christopherson’s prior remixes (he had an undeniable quality in sonic textures that were clearly his trademark); and the second has this ominous harmonica present as more of an accent against the electronic twisted beats, but in this one you can clearly hear a female orgasm (unless it is a pitch-shifted male orgasm, or possibly a transvestite). These both have the backdrop of very vocal sexual acts going on.
According to their PR, all of the sex is real. I guess they are putting that out front to demystify any rumors that will circulate about whether or not someone moaning sexually in a recorded song is faking it or not. A good example of whether or not people in a song were “really doing it” would be “J’Taime Moi Non Plus . . . ” by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. No one truly knows if that was what happened, but with Hirsute Pursuit, there is no ambiguity. They want you to know that someone was getting fucked. Whether or not that is sex they actually participated in or not is questionable (it could very well be gay porn samples). They aren’t identifying participants in their liner notes. They are credited as “Additional Men: (as in credits) and numerous others who didn’t want their names mentioned.”
There are three songs on the album that are all about accommodating a very domineering man’s “pleasure”. They are essentially the same song, but presented in three different variations: “You’re Here to Pleasure Me,” “My Pleasure,” and “My Pleasure House.” They all have the same resonating command, which is “You’re here for one reason . . . My Pleasure! I Take—You Give!” Other disturbing quips like: “Time for a Fuck!” “Go get cleaned up boy!” “Fuck Time!” “Legs Up!” “Ankles on my shoulders boy!” and “That’s My Hole!” are calmly uttered throughout, without emotion. The beats have a slimy, grinding thud, and are in conjunction with the sounds of balls slapping against ass, orgasmic grunting, and the sound of a man choking on cock! There is no subtlety here.
Other standouts on the album are the songs entitled “Fuck,” “Daddy Bear,” and the cringe-inducing “My Pretty Pink Hole” (replete with yelps of a submissive man groaning “Yes Sir!”). The whole album is extremely explicit, but these take the cake! “Fuck” in particular has some unsettling retorts like “I don’t care if it hurts . . . I want it to hurt!” and of course “Tighten that Muscle Ring!” which is the actual title of this album. There is also a remix of “Fuck” included (“Fuck” The Pounding Mix).
I can’t review this album without discussing the cover. I did a little research and found that this wasn’t a photo of a man that the band knew, but some random photo they had in a folder on a hard drive of gay content. Apparently the photo was extremely small and pixelated, but they had a friend fix it so it could be large enough for printing (plus adding the subtle “HP” logo that is supposed to look like it was written in semen). For an album like this, this is relatively tame compared to its contents, but very effective in depicting brazen machismo!
As I mentioned before, Hirsute Pursuit bears (no pun intended) a striking resemblance to Sleep Chamber, but they also remind me of a few other things. One of those things is JG Thirlwell’s alter ego known as “Clint Ruin,” in particular Clint’s Wiseblood project. I couldn’t help but find parallels with the exaggerated masculinity with both (but, Clint clearly favored the ladies). “The Fudge Punch” as well as “Prime Gonzola” had to be an influence on Hirsute Pursuit. It also made me envision what Soft Cell’s “Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret” would sound like, if it came out today. Hirsute Pursuit is as explicit as GG Allin, Blowfly, and Peaches! Actually, Peaches, Blowfly, and Hirsute Pursuit should all go on tour together! (Fuck, with ideas like that, I should be a concert promoter.)