It’s been three years since Cex released a full-length album, so perhaps it’s only fitting that main Cex machine Rjyan Kidwell gets on up with the brazenly titled “Actual Fucking.” The new album is more of a joint effort, featuring notable contributions from return collaborator Cale Parks (Aloha, Joan of Arc) and Kidwell’s wife Roby Newton (Milemarker), along with members of Nice Nice and Dismemberment Plan. “I prefer to make plans, but not execute,” explains Kidwell from his tour van somewhere in the middle of New Mexico. “ I draw lines, let other people color it in.”
Talking to Kidwell on the road leaves the impression of capturing someone in their natural environment—”Actual Fucking” features eight new songs, all named after different cities. The obvious question is whether the latest Cex album is actually a concept album. Inter-splicing excited metaphors with personal anecdotes and experiences (and healthy doses of “like”), Kidwell doesn’t shy away from the stigma that some music lovers attach to concept albums. “Everything I do is a concept album. Otherwise, it’s like writing a book with no point! I wanted to do a travel guide—traveling is more important to have a healthy brain. No TV, movies…”
The chameleon-like nature of Cex albums has enchanted and befuddled fans and chin-scratchers alike. “Actual Fucking” is the sixth album released by Cex. Once considered a vanguard act in the new electronica/IDM movement of the new millennium (Kidwell co-founded the seminal Tigerbeat6 label alongside Kid 606, Miguel Depedro), Kidwell’s recent efforts have focused more on lyrics, and have garnered a new audience by opening for acts like Death Cab for Cutie, Dismemberment Plan, Mogwai, and the Postal Service. There are only two instrumental tracks on “Actual Fucking,” with the rest of the album varying from the polyrhythmic “Baltimore,” to the Lovage-channeling vocal duel on “Denton.” So what can we expect from a live Cex show? “I don’t want to do a recital, I want to do an invocation. I want to leave something on stage.” Kidwell pauses before offering up another description, then chuckles. “It’s like if PiL grew up twenty years later doing ecstasy and downloading Bit Torrent comics! Wait…hold on.” Kidwell hands the phone off to Roby Newton while he shouts out the window at another tour van that has pulled into the same restaurant parking lot. “Hey…anyone heard of the Constatines?” (Duke Shin)
Cex plays at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, (773)525-2508, on June 24.