Chris & Cosey – “Technø Primitiv” (1985)

I’m clearly becoming infatuated with Cosey Fanni Tutti.  Whether it’s part of Chris & Cosey, or Carter Tutti, or any of the other permutations, I find the blend of Chris Carter’s soundscapes and the dreaminess of her voice to be perfect companions, both to one another as well as to me as I sit and listen.  In fact I’m dangerously close to going down a Cosey rabbit hole and buying up all of her stuff that I can get my hands on, which could be a dangerous proposition given that I’ll be in London in a few weeks time.

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Technø Primitiv was the duo’s fourth full-length album (♠), a somewhat somber dance record, a languid sonic dream sequence that turns the listener back into themselves, Cosey’s voice like a guru’s mantra allowing you to slowly slide into another state of consciousness.  The oddest twist on the album comes at the end of side A.  The second-to-last song is “Haunted Heroes”, a serious ambient number that replaces her vocals with what I believe to be a war veteran describing some of his experiences, his voice distant but clear.  That’s immediately followed by the sugary “Stolen Kisses”, the closest thing on Technø Primitiv to a true pop song.  The contrast between the two is palpable and a bit startling when “Stolen Kisses” first begins.

Technø Primitiv is the kind of good that can cause a paradigm shift in how you think about music.  I’ve been flirting with more and more electronic and dance music recently, and this may just be the gentle shove I needed to jump into the deep end of the pool.

(♠)  As near as I can tell, at least… sometimes with artists that constantly put out albums with name variations it can be difficult to tell.

Cosey Fanni Tutti – “Tutti” (2019)

I’ve been on a Cosey Fanni Tutti kick since reading her autobiography Art Sex Music back in 2017.  I’m primarily interested in her post-Throbbing Gristle material, which is more structured and less industrial in character, so I was quite excited to hear she planned a new release in 2019.  And now that I’ve listened to it at least a half dozen times I know one thing for sure – I have my first early contender for Top 5 Albums of 2019.

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The brief liner notes on the jacket reverse tell us that Tutti was initially conceived as the soundtrack to an autobiographical film about the artist, later updated and enhanced for release as an album.  Clearly that’s not a lot to go on without seeing the film, but it does offer some insight as to why the style morphs over the course of eight songs.  There’s a darker, more IDM feel to earlier tracks like “Drone” and “Moe”.  Do these correspond with the periods in Cosey’s life when she was involved with Throbbing Gristle and her time working in pornography (which, it should be noted, was also part of her art)?  I don’t know.  But I do get the sense of a story being told, something not easy to accomplish on a primarily instrumental/electronic album with minimal lyrics to point the way – it isn’t until the sixth track, “Heliy”, that we get some vocals, though these feel like they were added as much for their sonic qualities as for any kind of overt storytelling.

Reviewer Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian wasn’t a big fan, giving Tutti only two starts (out of five), noting it’s “moments of drudgery”.  Which just goes to show that different reviewers can come away with completely different perspectives.  As for me, Tutti has earned a spot on regular rotation at my house and I’ll definitely be putting it on my list of albums to come back to at the end of 2019.

T.G.T. (The Genetic Terrorists) – “White Stains” (1990)

tgtwhitestainsI’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”.

Carter Tutti – “Carter Tutti Plays Chris & Cosey” (2015)

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.

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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.