The term “intersex” refers to an atypical combination of physical features that usually distinguish female from male. It was used in the title of work by renowned German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, who looked at the relationship between music and sexuality, and how its interaction is in a constant state of flux. Intriguingly, it’s now the name of the debut LP by Steve Warwick, aka Heatsick. This last item isn’t a coincidence though. The album notes mention that the name of the album was taken from Hirschfield’s work and, over the course of four, untitled, tracks, Warwick explores these ideas through a simple form of electronica. The music was all written on a single Casio keyboard, the music looped and manipulated via guitar pedals with Warwick aiming for a deliberately artificial music, something alien and otherworldly. Amazingly, he’s managed to join both the very physical idea of sex and sexuality with an inorganic and metallic noise.
The album doesn’t begin too promisingly though. ‘Taxi Zum NO’ arrives in a swirl of strings, ripped from a Thirties black and white movie soundtrack and spun on crackling vinyl. Warwick grumbles over the top some “Duh, duh duh, duh duh duhs”, managing to creating a rather unsavoury atmosphere, as if we’ve stumbled into a room where Warwick is casually flicking through porn videos whilst making final edits to the music. There’s a voyeuristic nature to it, and feels like a genuine attempt to unnerve the listener, to bring you out of your comfort zone and prepare you for what’s to come. The music becomes the focus with the rhythmic simplicity of ‘Tertiary’. Its hypnotic beat and repetitive groove is pure sex. Over its thirteen minutes its kitsch keyboard sounds dance a merry pattern, winking and nodding at you as you fall for its simple charms and inherent sexiness. Warwick might be poking fun at how easy it is to manipulate your mood with such simplicity, but he’s also wanting you to have a good time. Why deny yourself your carnal pleasures? ‘Ice Cream or Concreate’ is altogether more brooding, and more obviously in awe of the electronica of the late 70’s and early 80’s. In fact, you could easily image Sun Araw falling for its moody charms. Its simple Casio refrain is held intact by a gloomy beat and simple bass line – once again, the ideas are simple but executed in a manner that ensures you lose yourself in its dream-like rhythm and retro-futuristic charms. The metallic and artificial sounds finally take full control on ‘Vom Anderen Ufer’. This is the noise of space-age icebergs scything through a battlefield of laser-firing robots, as piercing beams of noise arc over a rumbling refrain. This slowly fizzles out though into a creeping, modulating drone of electronic bits and bytes, as if you’re listening to the actual 1s and 0s encoded in the music. Intersex dissolves into a mess of disparate noises, cut and shut electronics and, finally, a harrowing set of vocals and maniacal laughter before the final chant of “music for gays, gay music, music for gays….”, and you sense, yet again, that Warwick is messing with your preconceptions and challenging your expectations of his music is and what it’s for.
Intersex is a place between two well-defined places, and this album finds itself falling into this inter-space. It’s not a straight piece of retro-electronica. It’s not a straight piece of dance music. And with the final chants of ‘Track 4′ still ringing in my ears, perhaps being straight is something he definitely didn’t want. With 2011 awash with electronica releases, Warwick has managed to release something that sounds very different – both in terms of its musical and ideological content.