Contacto Espacial
Con El Tercer Sexo 





The name of the band may be short, but the album title bursts at the seams: Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo is a modern hyper-labyrinthine eleven-track Space-Age artifact by the duo of Craig Borrell and Ross Harris also known as Sukia and DJ Me DJ You respectively, released in 1996 on Nickelbag Records. It is produced in a timeframe when electronic music enters the United States in all its colorful forms, when Big Beat is on the rise in the United Kingdom and like-minded North American producers like Tipsy see the light of day.


That said, Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo (which translates into “space contact with the third sex”) is definitely tailored to the audience of that time. The duo features earth-shaking bass drones, breakbeats and old samples of B-movies as well as guitars, vibes and an abundance of synthetic bits, blips and beeps which transcode the idea of a spacey journey into music. While some of the tunes are indeed cheeky and produced with a winking eye, the emotional range is enormously focused and crippled by design. One dark tune follows the other. This very darkness may not be of the chilling, truly medulla-emptying kind, but the tone sequences feature three powerful forces that make up the intrinsic style of the album: they are few and far between, their surfaces contain a gunmetal complexity, and last but not least, there is a strong cacophony evoked thanks to the interplay between the multilayered ingredients. An album about hypnotists, machos and the perception of being free yet trapped in a void of dark energy, Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo is much more of a Space-Age album than an Exotica cut. Read more about a rough, largely electronic post-appendix about the race to the moon and alienating encounters below.


Feel’n Free opens the album in the right fashion, both due to its escapist title and the sound waves themselves, the latter of which circumvent the title, and decidedly so. A mixture of rain sticks and fillips or snaps coalesces with sleazy electric bass blebs and archetypical vibraphone spirals which glitter up and down, creating that feeling of mystery and slowly creeping lunacy. An alto flute, brass stabs and short female chants round off the principal pool of ingredients, with many short sample bursts ("spank me", yikes) and Space-Age ornaments whirling around effervescently. The mood is never embracing, everything is placed in an enigmatic void. Slightly Oriental, painted in dun colors, Feel’n Free is dark and shady, but distantly paradisal due to its prominent alto flute. The Dream Machine is much more frantic, but draws from the same hodgepodge of needles, shards and prongs. Bubbling ondiolines, blended electric guitars and heftily wobbling pulses are grafted upon a Latin rhythm. The insisting voice of a hypnotist is the most interesting segue where minimalism reigns and the beat structure fades out in order to let the creepy words shine. Korla Pandit would have been proud.


Vaseline & Sand continues the opaque, endemic tradition of making the clash of sounds increasingly weirder as the album progresses. Klaxon two-tone chants, dusky sitars and iridescent stardust coils are ever-bubbling constituents in a fast midtempo groove. Play Colt follows and is a surprisingly Rock-heavy tune, at least rhythm-wise. Clicking claves and dreamy-echoey guitar scents in the background unite with a bunch of muted trumpets, harmonicas and droning bass runlets. The desperado-like feeling is undeniable, and the positively connoted blankness or even vacuity of the arrangement let the duo of Sukia fathom out the afterglow of the fleeting (or fleeing?) samples. In contrast to the first string of tracks, Play Colt feels almost as arid and jejune as the wide steppes it evokes.


Gary Super Macho is coming up next and serves as a dualistic brute with different beat structures, a shrapnel of thin and naturally disharmonious organ splinters as well as a weird glissando of equally incongruent trumpet eruptions. The second part introduces a slick and sleazy city strolling groove, with the eponymous macho on the prowl and lascivious women always in close proximity to this superstar. Gary Super Macho neither feels loungey nor exotic rather than much more brazen and adamant. It is a grim Space-Age artifact at best.


While Mr. Robot (not related to Les Baxter's composition) also resides in this spacey vacuum filled with retro-futuristic blips, blebs, bleeps and boings taken from quasi-prophetic B-movies and unites these blisters with the samples of Disco queens and short excursions to trumpet-fueled Latin capsules, We Have The Technology continues the technocratic sense of progressiveness with AM Frequency-like synth waves of the vaulted kind, NASA spaceflight samples, riverbeds of dark matter pads and peculiar bit-crushed horns. There is not a slice of mellifluousness or amicability in this alienating soundscape, but its coolness and pulling effect are strangely enthralling. Even though it is the centerpiece of almost six and a half minutes, it is approximately three minutes too long and not nearly captivating enough to justify the longevity of its – admittedly oxymoronic – streamlined quirkiness.


Touching ME Touching YOU turns out to be a little nod to the duo’s alternative moniker DJ Me DJ You. This is another Space-Age hymn which, however, is more Pop-oriented. The vocals of either Craig Borrell or Ross Harris are placed in front of an enormously dazzling fluxion of 8-bit bleeps, synth nebulae and Casio goodness. The staccato stop-and-go motion of the backing tohubohu is comparably delightful and bucolic in contrast to the metallic rusticity of the preceding material. A slight Rock edge is baked into the scenery, making this one of the greatest galactic globs to my ears. After the bow before DJ Me DJ You, Sukia follows, and it would be interesting to know whether the track was named after the duo or vice versa. Devoid of enlightening inspirations, I cannot pinpoint the truth at all, but am browbeaten by the things I hear: orbiting between the hypnotizing tension of The Dream Machine and galactosamine-nurtured brass schemes with discordant pipe organ mirages, the crepuscular shadiness of this midtempo crawler is largely enigmatic.


The penultimate Amok finally reintroduces a comparably glaring amount of Lounge goodness. Mystical vibraphone tittles, barking dogs, voodoo chants by blood-thirsty savages and chirping cyberbirds are placed in front of a designedly muffled beat which then changes into a breakbeat-oid structure, making this the hands down most frightening but strangely freeing and very delightful cut of the album, with the closer Dirty Afro thoroughly giving in to the previously hinted Rock airflows. A purposely overproduced Surf Rock anthem, Dirty Afro comprises of golden-shimmering guitar twangs, twisted Doppler sirens, electric guitar runlets and dissonantly jarring brass layers. Repeated "watch out!" warnings cannot be taken seriously in one of the brightest tunes of the album. But it is good to know that the duo of Sukia cares.


Rustic, rough, raucous: Sukia’s Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo delivers what its title promises, a Space-Age album par excellence in the true sense of the term as seen from the 1990’s. The only stringed devices on board are guitars, so you better not expect lush orchestra strings, neither in digitalized nor sampled form, but what the album lacks on the string side, it delivers with the aid of peculiar pulses and bleeps. For a 90’s album, the melodies are astonishingly bleak, sometimes even awkward and minimal, but since this is the case on each and every of the eleven tunes, this focused approach pays off big time. Notwithstanding both the bleakness and its opposite counterpart of supercharged bleepiness, Sukia’s debut and only full-length release feels cohesive and grabs the listener’s attention with its ornaments and arabesques, as picayune or de trop they may seem. Add pinches of Rock, fuzzy B-movie quotes and shedloads of horns to the scenery, and the tonality of Space-Age is completed.


Sometimes shockingly cold and distant, then all of a sudden tongue-in-cheek and jocular, Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo is very obscure, and that is the best thing one can say about a modern(istic) Space-Age artifact. Still, I would have loved a few more melodious aortas that run through or next to the serpentine helixes of noise, but euphonious bolts and sudden flashes of euphoria probably would have hurt the aurally depicted panorama. The album is available on CD and a download version, its 1997 reissue features four additional tracks that lessen the gargantuan proportions of Sukia’s otherworldly originals. Recommended to Exotica and Space-Age fans who are fond of an eclecticism akin to Emil Richard’s Stones (1966) and do not mind similarly ebullient fugues in a largely electronic conversion. 


Exotica Review 332: Sukia – Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo (1996). Originally published on Apr. 12, 2014 at