On October 19, Dark Entries and Honey Soundsystem Records will be releasing Afternooners, the final in a series of anthology albums preserving the brilliance of synthesizer music producer Patrick Cowley and his gay porn soundtrack work.
Cowley was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1950. He ventured to San Francisco in 1971 where he founded the Electronic Music Lab at City College of San Francisco, beginning his electronic music experimentations that would become “The San Francisco Sound.” Cowley was the innovator of Hi-NRG, the echelon of disco that catapulted Sylvester into stardom with mid-70s infectious grooves “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Dance Disco Heat.” In the early 1980s, Cowley started Megatone Records, through which he produced and released such dance singles as “Menergy” and “Megatron Man,” as well as Sylvester’s “Do You Wanna Funk.” It was around this time Cowley was hospitalized with what would eventually be called AIDS, to which he succumbed on November 12, 1982, at age 32. The release of Afternooners coincides with the legend’s 67th birthday and is “dedicated to the memory of Patrick Cowley.”
In 1979, John Coletti, the owner of Fox Studios—a gay porn company—commissioned Cowley to provide soundtrack music for sex scenes that would be compiled in the then-burgeoning VHS format. Muscle Up was released in 1979, followed by School Daze in 1980, those soundtracks being the first two packaged segments of the Cowley anthology triptych. The soundtrack instrumentals for Afternooners were recorded from 1979 to 1980, and “reflect the advances of the equipment available at the onset of the 1980s.”
The vinyl format of Afternooners includes a loving essay about Cowley by Drew Daniel of Matmos, and a “fold-out poster featuring a handmade collage using photography and xeroxed graphics of classic gay porn imagery.” The outside of the vinyl gatefold jacket (designed by Berlin-based artist Gwenael Rattke) presents elegant black and white photos of genius Cowley at work in the studio. Inside the gatefold, garish full-color X-rated images explode courtesy of the Fox Studios vaults, some of the fleshy male-threesome stills from the actual VHS Afternooners scenes with shiny hard cock glory.
The digital album celebrating, as Daniel writes, “one of the most revolutionary and influential figures in the canon of disco” releases October 19, and the vinyl ships out October 18. Discophiles and electronica aficionados will want to get the 2x Vinyl LP plus Digital Download in order to be visually and audibly transported to a precious bygone era from which we lost too many too young.