Thursday, April 12, 2012

Carter Tutti Void - Transverse (Mute Records 2012)


This is a much-anticipated return to the Carter Tutti field of work for Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti. It has been somewhat neglected since the wonderful FERAL VAPOURS OF THE SILVER ETHER in 2007 as the order of business demanded their attention elsewhere: a revisit to Chris & Cosey era material, the second coming of Throbbing Gristle and an extensive refurbishment of both entities’ back catalogues. TRANSVERSE is a collaboration with Nik Void from the incredibly hip Factory Floor, a union created for a live performance at the SHORT CIRCUIT PRESENTS MUTE event (at the Roundhouse, London) in May 2011. Where more precious entities might be inclined to present such an experiment live and subsequently recreate it in a sterile environment, Carter Tutti do the opposite. The success of this particular live recording is down to old school grounding, something no amount of gadgetry can replace. It channels the dissonant ambience of a performance situation with confidence and the result is an invigorating document of the event.

The album is divided in to 4 pieces, economically titled V1 – V4. V1 leads in with a simple kickdrum and the glorious din of Nik Void and Cosey’s sonic abrasions slowly melting down onto the rhythm. It’s fairly obvious from the onset that Chris Carter is leaving a lot of space for this interplay to take its course and given the set-up, (looking strangely like a rock band with two guitars on stage - see footage on youtube), it’s unsurprising that what’s familiar is more TG than Carter Tutti. Apparently, some of the rhythms were indeed remnants from recent Throbbing Gristle material before their abrupt demise. Raw strobes of noise continue into V2 with Cosey’s vocals drifting in and out over a magnificent tribal pulse. There’s a pounding primeval beauty throughout the track’s 10 minutes and although there were elements of this on CABAL (’03), it’s certainly the most cerebral Carter Tutti have sounded... an impressive and commanding interplay. The crafted attentiveness to a swelling arrangement is best exemplified by V3. Here, the twisted bass line momentum is both engaging and hypnotic with the various noise interjections carefully layered to serve the structure, not swamp it. V4 is the most caustic track of the four. A bassy bottom-end synth lends a fluttering pulse to the flow and processed shards of sensory tumult are less restrained, even willfully cacophonous in places, but never sound like they belong elsewhere. 

This is Carter Tutti firmly tapping into the spirit of their roots as sound creators, building an environment of live electronics, playing on all the wonderful unknowns and accidents that emerge on top of the planned trajectory. Nik Void’s presence is confidently empathetic with the demands of the collaboration and the cross-pollination of generations provides a relevant urgency throughout. This record draws from many places in Chris & Cosey’s past and although it has little in common with much of what now calls itself industrial music (pedestrian rave with some meathead grunting misogyny over the top), this is it in it’s purest form - a weird balance of penetrating abstraction and comforting auricular tones. To that end, TRANSVERSE is a highly commendable return to a much missed sonic momentum for Carter Tutti and with other conceivable distractions out of the way, there's hope that the gaps between releases will decrease.
- BOZ


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