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Lovemaking provides ”Sex Album” notes

David Hiltbrand The Philadelphia Inquirer

You may get an overpowering urge to smoke a cigarette after listening to “The Sex Album” by Jessica Vale.

That’s because, according to the liner notes, every note on the CD – other than Vale’s voice – is created by manipulating the sounds of couples making love.

But despite its title and origins, “The Sex Album” isn’t an erotic experience. It’s a surprisingly musical outing, almost indistinguishable from conventional electronica.

“We tried to make sure that what comes through is subtle,” says Vale. “We wanted the music to be processed enough that it didn’t sound like a porn movie.”

The result has been compared by listeners to aspects of Nine Inch Nails, Bjork and Portishead. But none of those, as far as we know, uses instrumentation this kinky.

“A lot of the bass lines are simply pitch-shifted vibrators,” says Ivan Evangelista, Vale’s collaborator and boyfriend.

A slap on the rump “makes a wonderful snare drum,” he says. “And the Velcro in wrist restraints is very percussive.”

Vale and Evangelista recruited their orchestra members at clubs in Manhattan, where they live.

“We approached couples, told them about the idea and asked if they would be willing to let us record them,” Vale explains. “It didn’t matter what their sexual orientation was, just that they be passionate about what they were doing.”

Seven couples in all were recorded while getting jiggy to create such songs as “Boy in Black” and “Disco Libido.”

The material they captured on tape was transformed and reassembled with the help of a sound engineer.

“It was surprising to us how accessible it ended up being,” Vale says.

It’s the first CD for Vale, 26, who graduated from Temple University with a degree in film and media. She was working in video production in New York when she came up with the concept for “The Sex Album” with Evangelista, 30, a veteran musician.

At the moment, the Explicit Records disc is available only online ( www.thesexalbum.com, $15.99), but Vale expects to make a deal that will have it in stores nationwide in the next couple of months. She’s also trying to launch a concert tour.

“We’ve been talking about incorporating a live band in parts of it to make it more dynamic,” Vale says. “We don’t want to re-create all the music with instruments. That would defeat the purpose.”

The show would also include an organic element.

“We’d have a couple behind a screen, making sexual noises,” Evangelista says. “You would see them in silhouette having sexual relations that we would put microphones to and sample into the music.”

So far they’ve sold only a few hundred copies of “The Sex Album,” and response from listeners hasn’t been what they expected.

“A couple of fans have told me how much it turns them on sexually,” Vale says. “That was surprising. The point wasn’t to make an album to have sex to.”

Adds Evangelista: “Barry White, it ain’t.”

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