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Mood Music

Like sex, music expresses that which cannot be spoken, cannot be pictured, cannot be signalled in any other way. Like costume, music evokes moods, brings forth personalities, and builds tension more dramatically than other props. Like power and violence, music is a dynamic force that can slip under the curtain of thought and trigger rituals of spirit or of sheer physicality. Cuir Underground asked a number of perverts to share the music that fuels their fantasies, especially new and unusual music to restoke the fires of your sex rituals. Thogh musical preferences re as unique as sexual fantasies, perhaps their replies ill inspire you to new perversities, both musical and sexual.

I like rhythmic, hypnotic work that doesn't overwhelm the scene with distinguishable lyrics. Gentle or nurturing scenes can stick to stuff like Enya and Dead Can Dance (the old standby). There are a huge number of techno/trance compilations, some with cheesy titles like "A Body Alternating Sexperience;" this sort of stuff often works well as rhythmic background. Darker or more violent scenes can thrive on harsher music, though I still prefer music that is repetitive and hypnotic -- Lycia can be very soothing, but still has a hell of an edge to it. If you're in to really heavy music during scenes, something nasty and industrial like Skinny Puppy or Godflesh can work well. If you don't mind lyrics, Nine Inch Nails or Ministry can work, but I find them too distracting because you can understand the words without too much effort -- exactly what I don't want in most scenes.

-- Thomas Roche, kinky author

I am a big fan of theatrical scenes. The music I select has a great deal to do with what I hope to achieve. The scene which calls for sensory overload might include head-thrashing heavy metal such as Metallica or Guns N' Roses' "Appetite For Destruction." I choose the type of songs which provide a heavy beat and screaming lyrics that vibrate the walls and my partners. I find heavy metal useful in scenes which are more physically demanding on me, such as a very heavy flogging or a hard. Scenes that call for a more spiritual, transcendent experience -- such as play piercing and other bloodsports -- are often accompanied by New Age and Aboriginal Reconstructivist music. I try to select groups with few or no lyrics so that my own voice provides the emotional grounding for the bottom. I am especially fond of Native American flute music, and have enjoyed many of Coyote Oldman's recordings, most especially "Thunder Chord," as well as Temple Of The Dream Jaguar's "Native Flute Ensemble". If I am planning a scene with a new play partner I will often combine my old stand-bys of Yanni, Enya, and Enigma. I find the Benedictine Monks Of Santo Domingo De Silos' "Chant" to be the perfect background for a role-playing scene with Catholic religious overtones. If one of my scenes is to include some serious pump 'n' grind in addition to the torture and blood, I might mix in some funky blues. My two favorite choices are Joan Osborne's "Relish," and "Blues Traveler's "Four." There is a nice little song called Help Me on "Relish" which has some very appropriate Daddy lyrics.

-- Mistress Cat, Bay Area S/M party host

My favorite music includes: "Chime" by Orbital, which makes me feel high on energy, and ready to face the horde of any fetish dance floor. "Burn Baby Burn!" by The Electric Hellfire Club was made for sleazy torture scenes. It is contemporary rock/industrial, stylish and fit for a bit of serious SM. "Torture Rock" by Rockin' Belmarx is not a serious S/M song, but is hopelessly sleazy in the 50s Las Vegas style. "Sugar is Sweet," by CJ Bolland is another track from the current dance scene, and the screeching post-punk lyrics leave little to the imagination. I also recommend "L' Heuton Timoroumenos" by Diamanda Galas. Galas is one of the finest singers of the American gothic era, with the femininity and power of a serious opera singer. This is one of the most erotic songs I have ever heard, and conjures up images of bloodletting, vampires, red crepe...oh I feel flush!

-- Heather, Club Whiplash, London

The music I've used both at home and at parties includes the "Babylon 5" soundtrack by Christopher Franke, "The Phantom" soundtrack by David Newman, "Young Indiana Jones Chronicles #1" by Joel MacNeeley and Laurence Rosenthal, "Rollerball" soundtrack, "Alien Nation" soundtrack by Dorff, Kurtz, and Herbstritt. For lighter bits of play I have used "The Masochism Tango" and "Smut" by Tom Leher, "Toilet Slave" by the Meatmen, the Addams Family soundtrack (the TV series, not the film), and "Cause I'm a Blonde" by Julie Brown. Needless to say, I get some interesting comments on my mixes, but they keep asking for more.

-- Dr. Charles Forbin, author of "Diaries of Ayesha"

My favorites include the Chris and Cosey ep "Come Down To Me" (with Annie Lennox on vocals); anything by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, which is Muslim devotional chanting from Pakistan; and some selections from the "Hi, How Are You Today" CD by Ashley Macisaac (not the whole CD!).

-- Wolfie

Recently I've been using "Insides" and "Satan Live" by Orbital. Both are sort of techno/ambient. "Insides" can be amazing if you're in the right mood. You might also try stuff by Aphex Twin. Depending on how you like your sound, you could also try "The Sinking of the Titanic" by Gavin Bryars, which is kind of ethereal/ambient.

-- Dave, Huddersfield, UK

We love to scene with Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel." From the hauntingly melodic "Cruel Prelude" and the whip-sound beat of "Don't Be Cruel" and "My Prerogative," to the softer "Take It Slow," we can really tune in with this mood-inducing album.

-- Jaguar, from the Internet

While there's a lot of music I like, the only one I could name off the top of my head as a must for a play party would be "The Masochism Tango" by Tom Leher to start off the night. Personally I'd like to hear more Blue Oyster Cult and Hawkwind. I can also suggest what not to play. I have safeworded on "In A Metal Mood/No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Pat Boone, and if I hear Dead Can Dance one more time I'll puke -- Dead Can Dance has to be the most overplayed scene music there is.

-- Jay Moyes, kinky artist

My favorite scene music includes: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Michael Brook's "Night Song" -- great, mystical, wailing, dark, romantic music; any album by Morphine -- cool, sultry, smoky, seduction grooves; "Superunknown" by Soundgarden -- ominous, crashing thrash rock; and Nine Inch Nails -- of course!

-- Rob Jellinghaus, Bay Area hacker by day and pervert by night

My favorite scene music is Psychic TV, especially the "Live in Tokyo" album. Although not on this album, "The Orchids" is perfect for heavy cock and ball torture (the removal of the testicles is known as an orchidectomy, after all). Although it's a cliche', I often use the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs" for female dominant/male submissive scenes. Other favorites include the Cocteau Twins and Sleep Chamber, an S/M fetish band from Boston with songs such as "Warm Leatherette" and "Kiss the Whip."

-- Liz Highleyman, Cuir Underground Editrix

My bottom is such a smart-ass pig for pain that the only thing I can threaten him with (besides PBS pledge breaks) is my own singing. Fortunately, we also have recordings of good music! For a long, involved scene my favorite is Handel's "Messiah" (the Christmas portion). Tchaikovsky is also great. Depending on mood, I like his violin concerto (especially with the tiger claws!) or the "1812 Overture" (great with a paddle!)."The Habanera," from "Carmen," sets a nice pace for a spanking, and for a caning nothing beats the "Largo al Factotum" aria from "Barber of Seville."

-- Jack Fertig, Astrologer and writer

My selections include "In the Realm of a Dying Sun" by Dead Can Dance, "Passion" by Peter Gabriel, "Blue Bell Knoll" by the Cocteau Twins, "The Hunger" soundtrack (this has to be timed just right, so that when the "scary" music starts, you're at an appropriate place in the scene), "Pulse" by Brent Lewis, "Mixed Up" by the Cure, the "Twin Peaks" soundtrack, and The Art of Noise Ambient Collection. Enigma used to be on my best list until I went to a party where the thing played all night; after that, my partner and I declared a personal ban on Enigma for a year. I like to hear certain music at the beginning of a party or to set the mood before a scene, including music by Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and The Mission UK. But while I'm playing, I generally like to avoid songs with words, as they can be distracting both for the bottom and for me (although Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance don't count, since you can't make out any coherent words). I just picked up Gabrielle Roth's "Bones" and "Waves," which seem good for less active play like mummification, play piercing, and bondage. Mostly the only music I buy these days is scene music. Whenever we go to a movie, we always judge the soundtrack by whether or not it would make good scene music.

-- Cuirdyke, from the Internet

I don't have any particular long-time favorite music. Over the years I have been into Bach organ music, the Beatles, Flamenco, Edith Piaf, Maria Callas, Simon and Garfunkle, highlights from Berg's "Wozzeck," "Gottschalk" (yes, "Night in the Tropics," but especially his Cuban and piano music), and most recently 7th Symphony. I tend toward Big Sound classical stuff, but every once in a while something comes along that just carries me away. Last year I played a few times with a guy who liked to play a CD of Gershwin's solo piano music. Being tied up can add a whole new resonance to "The Man I Love." Then there have been guys with whom I would have been happy to listen to a recording of mating cats being dragged across a blackboard... I like music during a scene, but no one piece or style or composer or performer has emerged as the winner -- I guess I'm from the "whatever works" school of music.

-- Al, from the Internet

For many years, I played Ravi Shankar and various other sitar/tabla musicians. One time I had a date with a well-known punk around town -- foot-high mohawk and tons of attitude. We'd played at his house, rather lightly because of noise constraints, although I do remember violently face-fucking him. The first time at my place, I decided that he wouldn't want to hear a sitar, so I played some sort of punk music, and he asked me why he didn't get a sitar like my others boyz. Turned out my unusual music choice had a reputation. I rarely play music now during a whipping. I have come to prefer the raw sound of leather on flesh, the excited breathing, and the unfiltered yelps.

-- Huck, from the Internet

"The passions enjoy themselves in the form of music," said Neitzsche. He was right. At our own Fetish Nights we ask the deejay to play music which supports scenes and S/M states of mind -- this means we discourage deafeningly loud, percussive metal rock, or anxiety-provoking industrial screaming music. "Dead Can Dance" is great. The music for any scene should contribute to it, not compete with it or try to overpower it. In my own dungeon, I like the new complete "Blade Runner" soundtrack, the incidental music to "X Files," and the soundtrack to "Haunted Summer." I prefer longer cuts -- short pieces with many pauses interfere with the flow of any scene. Some ethnic and classical music works beautifully -- the Kodo Drummers, gamelan music, Zen shakuhachi flute -- especially for tight, intimate, tense, up-close edge play. For bullwhip play, I prefer more spacious music, such as Gorecki's Third Symphony. If music is handled correctly, one will not consciously notice it, but it will support the state of mind required to make a superb scene for all participants.

-- Robert Dante, publisher, Boudoir Noir magazine

Check out "Drugfucked," the fetish soundtrack collection by The League of Hedonists. Salvatore Mulligan and his brainchild the League of Hedonists are fast becoming the Greek chorus of the London fetish scene. It doesn't get any more current or real than this. Few filmmakers have Mulligan's eye for fetish detail; none have his musical talent. This man is not only the documenteur of London's fetish milieu, but he's also providing the soundtrack. "Drugfucked" is the soundtrack to the 90s fetish experience. These days no post-party chill-out is complete without one of Mulligan's juicy slabs of video sauce, and when the party wants to chill, the party turns up the volume, kicks back, and lets Mulligan's sensual, phat beats take them away. There's a good mixture here of the angel's and the devil's tunes. "Water Baby" from Atomic is dripping with sensuality, Harlotz Theme rocks. Mulligan's music is sprinkled with dub fairy dust, which soothes the mind and tickles the libido. Breathy, sexy and for real, it seems ripe with massive crossover potential. Coooool!

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