Begin with Collapse: My Life with Evil Sex Party
I once punched a man for playing this music when I asked him not to. It quickened the death of one of my relationships for reasons that don’t matter. The relationship fell apart, but then again, so does everything, so maybe that’s a good place to begin.
When I first heard “evil sex party,” I was living in Haverhill, Mass., and writing for a noise zine that has since achieved “legendary” status. Nostalgia helps. Copies of the zine, Hexun, now occasionally pop on eBay and sell for amounts that would have financed every print run of the original publication. I had a few copies that somehow survived moves and a divorce, and selling them earned me a little vacation at an Earth ship down in New Mexico for a few months, where I wrote most of my forthcoming book on alternative economic theory.
1994. Those were different times. Because of my own predilections, if I wanted to find people who shared my occult tastes in music and parapsychology, I had to break bread with a lot of broken individuals.
I got my hands on “evil sex party” when I was involved in a brief collaboration with a guy who lived in nearby Groton. He had a nice house set away from the road, so I figured he had money and might be able to fund a project—a label, a magazine, something—but at this point in his life it turned out he was mostly interested in heroin. He seemed to own nothing other than his stereo, his music collection, and a few books—a history of plagues, some of the old RE/Search volumes and an unread copy of Heidegger’s “A History of the Concept of Time.” And oh yes, a lot of weapons.
He was a practitioner of some type of quasi-neo-Satanism involving inverted ethics whereby you gained virtue or power by taking it from others—your standard run-of-the-mill occultist, with beliefs both absurd and ornate. Fine enough, but all the gleaming blades made me think he took it all a little more seriously than I was comfortable with.
At a few points in our conversations, he brought up the subjects of sex and violence, particularly in terms of their magical potential, but I changed the subject. I find the topic distasteful. And a private matter.
It turned out he had no money as far as I could tell, at least on hand, that wasn’t going to drugs and was otherwise just another person you meet along the way.
I wouldn’t be writing or thinking about him if he hadn’t sold me his music collection. He had decided he was “beyond music” and only wanted to listen to birdsongs and ambient sounds like airplanes and wind. I tested him a little and said something like, “Well, if you want to get rid of it, I can take it off your hands.” The whole thing cost me maybe forty dollars. He gave me now rare recordings of Coil, Nurse With Wound, some musique concrete, early electronic music, and the most interesting and darker baroque composers such as Couperin. I also received a few records from the early second wave of black metal, well before anyone in this area was aware of what was going with the clever, wicked children of Norway.
And then there was the unremarkable and cheaply packaged cassette marked in silver, “evil sex party.” He pulled it out, placed it in my hands, and said something like “I’m not going to answer any questions about this, but do what you want with it.” He acted nervous and wouldn’t look in my eyes.
That night was our final conversation. He talked a lot about a rare kris knife he owned that he believed was now imbued with potent forces. He was increasingly twitchy and aggressive. At one point, seemingly at random, he told me that so many occultists, so many religions, got it wrong when they sacrificed the innocent. Little lambs. You need to bring down the tigers, he told me. The knowledgeable ones. Better meat for the brain. This whole time I had my hand on my car keys.
I listened to the tape on my drive home, on a still and star-filled ride up 495, past midnight. I knew immediately I had never heard anything like it. I recognized it immediately as ahead of its time, cinematic, impregnable, with its own curious beauty. It still sounds ahead of what people are doing now, even as the music world has caught up.
Of course, I worried that I was somehow complicit in a crime for owning it. There had always been outright lunatics in the industrial music world, as well as people of compromised morality. I met people who owned snuff films and other documents of the deep underground. Nihilists, kidnappers, religious fanatics, schizophrenics. So, from out of that world, came “evil sex party.”
At this point, I had questions for the man, but he didn’t own a phone, and there was no way I was going to show up on his porch. I wanted no more of his kris knife and wild theories.
Still, I began to think this was some kind of holy grail of underground music, so I wrote a glowing review that later caused me a lot of trouble. I have never and will never give permission to have it reprinted. I’m sure you can find it somewhere on the internet, but not with my blessing.
Maybe owing to the drugs I was taking at the time or the peculiar disarray of my psyche, I felt as though the cassette was giving me bad luck. I should say, really, there’s no way of getting around this—it definitely brought me bad luck.
The pattern was clear. Over time I played it, strange things happened. The power would go. The mail would arrive and it was a nasty letter from an ex-lover. A copper pipe blew out in the basement. Little things, mostly. But many, many of them. All along, I still had this feeling that I should not be listening to it, that I would somehow be caught. I began to imagine, or perhaps sense, that I was being followed, that I would soon be arrested. And then I thought—what if someone in a position of authority began to think I made this shit? What if this wasn’t some damn recording but a piece of evidence? How could I prove otherwise? So I made some copies and sent them out to people who had written to me asking about it, just to make sure my ass was covered. Otherwise, who knows? I don’t know. For all I knew, I owned the only copy.
The end came when my apartment was broken into that summer. If you remember it, you remember the weather, the political climate, the sense of everything falling apart. The “thieves” took nothing and left nothing but smashed glass. That was it. No more Haverhill. No more zine. I took a rubber mallet to the original tape and left it in a dumpster.
I headed down to stay with friends in Chile and didn’t end up returning to the United States until years later. The cassette had continued to circulate. I heard it by accident once when a well-meaning friend put it on, telling me “you’ve got to hear this.” I was immediately sickened by it and asked him to turn it off. When he refused, well, I’ve already gone into that.
It’s in your hands now. You deal with it.
As for myself, I haven’t completely gotten away from my own history with this, or else I wouldn’t be writing the damn liner notes. It helps that the label has agreed to pay me a small sum for my efforts, at a time when I need a little pocket money. But even typing this, I still feel as though I’m somehow going too far to explain away something or establish my own distance. At the very least I can say this—there is nothing else like “evil sex party,” and the more you listen to it, the more the layers reveal themselves. So be ready if that happens because you might not always like what you hear.
I ran into the man from Groton one more time, at the now-closed 119 Gallery in Lowell. He was sitting quietly in the corner, listening to the evening’s slate of experimental musicians, while scribbling in a notebook. So much for birdsongs and airplanes.
At one point, he looked up and noticed me and nodded before capping his pen and leaving. I considered going after him, but hesitated.
—Brad Sparks, former editor of Hexun. 2017