I’ve been on a bit of a Chris & Cosey kick lately. Or is it more a Carter Tutti kick? Either way, I was doing some six degrees of separation on Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti and ran across this one-off project called The Genetic Terrorists, which they put out under the pseudonyms Todd Steele and Sadie Teslar (along with Brian Williams credited as Les Derringer). I knew immediately I needed to check it out.
I’ve read that T.G.T. was formed as a sort of joke to poke fun at the direction industrial music had taken. Is that true? I don’t know. I mean, I enjoy it… but maybe I’m just a dupe. White Stains has one odd characteristic – many of the vocal samplings on the A side sound like they’re actually somewhere between 33 1/3 and 45 rpm. 45 is clearly too fast… but 33 1/3 makes me wonder if I’ve been drinking too much sizzurp. I double-checked against some recordings online and even timed my damn turntable, and clearly 33 1/3 is right. Go figure. The B side feels perfectly normal.
If you’re looking for serious industrial, this isn’t it. Even calling it IDM would be a stretch. It’s probably best described as straight techno given the bpms on five of the six tracks range from 116-122, with only “TGT (Anthem)” clocking in at the more robust 132 bpm. That being said, I still like it, especially “Deactivated”.
I have to confess that I’m listening to this on my iPod right now. Don’t judge me – I bought the vinyl, but I also got a free download when I purchased it and I simply haven’t gotten around to cracking the seal on it yet. That means that I’m listening to this out-of-sequence, because for whatever reason the play order on the download is different. I don’t know how you feel about that, but I always get a bit twitchy when I don’t listen to stuff in album-order. First world problems.
But I can’t feel anything but relaxed listening to these Carter Tutti remixes. The download opens with “Lost Bliss”, a track that I can only describe as effervescent. It’s like an early evening glass of champagne – bubbly, a bit crisp, and holding the promise of an interesting night ahead. It’s definitely not a mimosa, lacking the sweetness and bright colors; this isn’t the day getting started, it’s the evening getting started. By the time “Retrodect” is almost finished we’ve switched it up and moved on to vodka and Red Bulls. We’re on the dance floor, grooving, sliding, pulsing. And “Obession”? <sigh> Cosey still has it, that’s all I have to say as I let the sound waves cover me like a warm blanket on a cold night. Let’s not even talk about “Sin”, because things are getting downright strange and overtly sexual.
It’s hard for me to think of Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti as having been long-time members of Throbbing Gristle, as their collaborations are light years different from their earlier avant garde proto-industrial work. I strongly recommend Tutti’s autobiography Art Sex Music – not only is it an interesting look at her musical career, but also her artistic one. I find her endless fascinating.
I fully admit I’ve been a bit infatuated with Cosey Fanni Tutti over the last year or so. It started with picking up some old Throbbing Gristle releases, then reading her autobiography Art Sex Music, and finally coming across some of her post-TG tunes as part of Chris & Cosey (♠) on some comps. So I was pretty stoked to find this 12″ of “Sweet Surprise” on the display wall over at Daybreak Records the other day, even more so when I realized the “And…” was for collaborators on this project, none other than Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, aka The Eurythmics.
Frankly I love everything about this record. It’s electronic, a little weird, and keeps you on your toes. The 12″ contains two versions – the 1984 mix (see video below) and the later, longer 1985 mix.
(♠) Chris is Chris Carter, her former TG bandmate and long-time life partner.
I’m currently reading Cosey Fanni Tutti’s recently released autobiography Art Sex Music. Tutti is perhaps best known to music fans as one of the founding members of industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle alongside her partner/lover/collaborator Genesis P-Orridge. She has also earned a well-deserved reputation as a artist, doing performance pieces with P-Orridge and others as part of their COUM project as well as being a very early participant in the mail art scene and doing some highly controversial solo work. While there was a certain amount of “openness” to Tutti and P-Orridge’s relationship, eventually the two parted ways as romantic partners as Tutti developed a deepening relationship with bandmate Chris Carter, one that eventually led to them starting a family and collaborating musically as a duo and allowing her even more freedom to explore other forms of art.
So what does all this have to do with the 1988 comp Nettwerk Sound Sampler Volume Two? Well, on Saturday I was doing some digging into the various Carter/Tutti projects, the most notable of which is Chris & Cosey. And that afternoon I stopped by Silver Platters to pick up the new Purple Rain re-release and while I was there I came across this comp… which features a song by Chris & Cosey. I pretty much had to buy it at that point. It was like it was meant to be.
Given that two of the artists on this comp are Chris & Cosey and Skinny Puppy, I expected the overall feel to be on the electro-industrial side. So imagine my surprise when it opened with a quiet acoustic singer-songwriter type song from a young Sarah McLachlan. Yes, that Sarah McLachlan. Huh. Didn’t see that coming. Fortunately things then take a weirder turn with the quasi-new-wav-ish “Greater Reward” by Severed Heads, which has a very Pet Shop Boys feel to it. But… then we get some folk rock by Lava Hay. WTF was Nettwerk’s strategy? These are definitely not the kinds of artists you’d expect to hear together on the same small indie label. The side closes out with Moev’s “Open Mind”, an industrial-lite kind of number that’s pretty decent.
The B side is more electronic, with all four artists contributing somewhat darker electro-pop tunes. Chris & Cosey’s “Trust” has a more early 1980s feel to it, along the lines of what was coming out of Germany at the time – cold synths, deep and almost mysterious sounding vocals, but delivered with a feeling of honesty that is actually a bit unsettling. Skinny Puppy close the comp out with “Addiction (Dog House Mix)”, unquestionably the most industrial thing here and arguably the best song of the bunch.