It’s hard to get out of Suckfish once it’s on. You’re just suddenly in it, like a silver pinball shot into the screwy Op art lock groove of its cover. The prickly microhouse rhythms he brought to 2003’s Leave Luck to Heaven are still present, but as Audion Matthew Dear tops those stipples with synthesizers that growl and an attitude that says, “Come on.” With this record, the only thing you’re supposed to do is get off. Oscillating tones pierce the beat repeatedly on opener “Vegetables”, and pretty soon there are manipulated voices in there too, mumbling alone in your mind. But that’s just a preamble to the Suckfish thump of “Your Place or Mine” and “Titty Fuck”. There are elements of empty space in the former—Dear snips off the bass except for right over the drum so the synths are like pointy elbows jutting into the open space on a dancefloor, and the effect is chilly. But if their titles didn’t give it away these songs are pretty randy, too—Suckfish is techno that tumbles towards ecstasy in 4/4 time.
“Your Place or Mine” is cool, but it’s “Titty Fuck” that’s the real base desire provider, its slinky 22nd century disco beat flirting with a five-note melodic tickler until the whole thing swells to a hissing, gritty finale that’s just unclean. Back alley sex = bad idea. But that’s the feel Dear is going for with Audion, however detached and dirty it is. He wants you to envision having relations among machines, or maybe machines having relations; either way, he provides tracks like “Kisses” and “The Pong” to do it to. “Pong”’s primary tone thrusts and eases back, the inevitable give and take of a frantically dancing crowd in a dark basement room, and a howling bass line alternates with blasts of clattering rhythm and quieter moments that sound like pinging sonar.
The calculated quality of Suckfish is part of its allure. Unlike Nympho, Armand Van Helden’s recent foray into sexified disco-punk obviousness, Dear has specifically categorized “Titty Fuck,” the fluid, tense “Uvular”, and the rest as being separate from himself. (You won’t see something like the blatant “Just Fucking” on Leave Luck to Heaven’s follow-up.) Releasing them under an alias allows Dear to position this material as a separate project, a grand design to get you laid. And the designer? Audion, which doesn’t sound the least bit human and instead suggests a faceless superintelligent robot or hard plastic nub that will exude soothing “penetration sounds” in some Huxley sex parlor of the future. This is opposite to Van Helden’s all too manmade and selfish approach, like bad cologne and worse drugs versus the sleek lines of Suckfish, the sex toy prototype.