Sexa - Sedatives from the Pharmacy, LP

• LP
20,00 €
In stock

Along with Belgrade’s Disciplina Ki?me and Sarajevo’s SCH, SexA was the most striking creature to prowl the Yugoslav underground of the 1980s. But unlike the aforementioned ruffians, this art-damaged troupe from Zagreb released zero CDs and only two slabs of vinyl—1990’s noise rock classic No Sleep Till Pussy/Fuck Piction as well as a subsequent single—over its decade-plus run. In hopes of enlisting avowed fan Steve Albini to engineer a sophomore album, the band decamped to the Netherlands just as political and ethnic unrest began tearing apart the Balkans. The change of scenery led to an altogether different struggle: Having weathered the collapse of communism and the prelude to war in their native country, these outspoken expats had to survive sans the cultural and social frameworks that originally nourished their creativity. Worn down by this and other tensions, they played their final gig in December 1992. Approximately 20 years later, Ines Pletikos fashioned the story into the documentary film Kako Smo Ušli u Europu—Slu?aj SexA (aka How We Entered Europe—The SexA Case).

From a purely musical perspective, though, the group’s evolution had barely been chronicled. A slew of pivotal songs remained buried beneath the rubble, either confined to homemade cassettes or never issued at all. Now, Ektro’s Full Contact imprint has excerpted hours of largely unheard demos and concert tapes to compile a definitive retrospective. Titled for the English translation of “Sedatives ex Apoteka”—for which the name “SexA” is a contraction—Sedatives from the Pharmacy beautifully summarizes the three idiosyncratic phases of the project’s existence.

For the earliest chapter, 1980 through 1984, guitarist Darko Kordovan masterminded the material, which frantically amalgamates such disparate elements as rousing drinkers’ choruses, Croatian folk rhythms, Dadaist absurdity, no wave destruction, and bizarrely angular interpretations of funk and ska. After his departure, the style mutated into a slower, less kinetic strain of alienated post-punk. The mood also grew decidedly bleaker, thanks to Nik Valenti?’s psychically disturbing babble, Saša Last’s hot-wired synth blurts, and Ivan Bilosni?’s brittle guitar innovations, which stand proudly with the accomplishments of Pere Ubu’s Tom Herman, the Contortions’ Jody Harris, and Gang of Four’s Andy Gill. (A posthumous LP, SexA u Živo, captures a superb show from this same period.)

Following a brief split in 1986, the beast roared back to life before the turn of the ’90s. A scorching performance by Albini’s fleeting power trio, Rapeman, served as a partial catalyst for the rebirth. And so SexA developed into an infinitely louder, more primal concern. Shaven-headed and shirtless, the delightfully mischievous Valenti? looked like a soulful thug and growled like a profane caveman. Bilosni? skillfully ripped the guts out of his instrument, coaxing forth distorted mayhem by mercilessly jerking his tremolo bar. Surprisingly groovy basslines, jackhammering beats, and whinnying feedback brought up the rear. This blunt savagery was somehow both miles away from and the logical conclusion to the quirky complexity of the Kordovan era.

Housed in cover illustrations by founding drummer Ratko Danilovi?, Sedatives from the Pharmacy seeks to introduce a wider international audience to SexA’s legacy. Suffice to say, it’s a thrilling ride, one that’s as fascinatingly messy as history itself.

Jordan N. Mamone, New York City

October 15, 2021

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