We have spent some time lost inside one of last year’s best releases: Muscle Up, Dark Entries second reissue of Patrick Cowley’s psyche-o-tronic gay porn soundtracks (School Daze was the first, you should check it too).
Muscle Up is very special indeed. As Maurice Tani points out in his reminiscence of Cowley and 1970s San Francisco in the lovely essay that comes tucked with the release, this is music better understood in its context of rapid change, both societal (counterculture, sexual revolution, fight for gay rights) and technological (better access to cheap music-making tech). It was part of a wave of change that Cowley rode to the end.
His music generally, and specially here, challenges all attempts to fragment the unity of the human experience into unhelpful dualisms between mind and body, art and science, nature and technology, experimentalism and pop. It is multi-functional, multipurpose, boundary-ravaging. You can use it to have transcendent sex, to go on science-fiction flesh odysseys, definitely to boogie among ectoplasmic clouds, in altered gravities.
As we listen to it, scenes of dudes banging each other transmogrify into the psychedelic landscapes of an Alain Goraguer film, Lalo Schifrin’s turtlenecked Frisco thrills are augmented with sexy comixxx curves, ejaculatory arpeggios give lift off to Carl Sagan’s interstellar mission.
Dazed and delirant, we imagine a future where humankind overcomes its current troubles, abolishes scarcity, fear and prejudice, and realises its creative potential, while keeping an edge, a necessary sense of danger. Patrick Cowley’s music helps us dream of that future, he’s one of its prophets.
Muscle Up also includes “Somebody to Love Tonight”, an instrumental version of what would eventually become Sylvester’s legendary ballad of longing “I need Somebody to Love Tonight”. This reminded us of the Dirty Sound System mixtape where we first heard that song. There, it was accompanied by “Who” by Odyssey (aka Vangelis).
This piece of otherworldly, cosmic jet–set soul is today’s bonus for you.