First studio album from the trio unleashes a deeply evocative masterpiece
Since splintering from seminal industrial antagonists Throbbing Gristle in 1981, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti have remained beautifully isolated on the idiosyncratic path they’ve traversed through the outer reaches and subterranean depths of electronic music. While dancefloors have continued to cavort to the latest lazy producers reaping success from the shiny regurgitations enabled by evolving technology, the pair have not so much weathered but simply ignored the fleeting trends, creating music which has hot-wired basic equipment then mated it with outside elements such as Tutti’s voice, guitar and cornet to birth haunting new sonic mutants.
While Throbbing Gristle sandblasted punk with the most extreme form of sheer noise terror, Carter seemed hell-bent on extracting much deeper ghosts out of his machines, to be teamed with Tutti’s like-minded experiments with audio expression. Their 1981 debut album as Chris & Cosey, ‘Heartbeat’, was followed by ‘Trance’, which named one musical trend the pair would inspire – along with techno, industrial and electronica, as homaged on the ‘Twist’ remix tribute by acolytes such as Carl Craig and Mike Paradinas. Their innovative spirit mushroomed when they set up their Creative Technology Institute (CTI) label, releasing further groundbreaking missives such as 1985’s ‘Technø Primitiv’ and inaugurating their multi-purpose ‘The Library Of Sound’ and ‘Electronic Ambient Remixes’ CD series, while continuing to work with a range of collaborators.
In 2004, the duo made ‘Cabal’ to mark changing their name to Carter Tutti, followed by 2007’s ‘Feral Vapours Of The Silver Ether’ and a riveting re-imagining of Nico’s ‘Desertshore’ album in 2011. That year the couple were joined by Factory Floor’s Nik Colk Void, playing Mute’s landmark Short Circuit Festival at the Roundhouse (as captured on the mind-frying ‘Transverse’ live album). ‘f (x)’ is Carter Tutti Void’s first studio emission and moves the electronic goalposts again as the six lengthy excursions plunge into a shadowy, multi-textured netherworld where riffs and melodies congeal, and an infernal pulse throbs down below like a bottomless pit echo of the minimal techno heartbeat.
Impossibly deep, dark and distorted, the radioactive shudders, eerie screes, croaking bullfrog’s rectum swamp gas and cracked howls slashing ‘f = (2.2)’ and ‘f = (2.4)’ construct an evocative new strain of scorched earth sex magic and aural cacophony ritual. ‘f = (2.3)’ and ‘f = (2.6)’ are lashed and elevated by dismembered vocals and deep-fried guitar, but by the closing track everything’s become a skeletal, wind-ravaged ruin of parched circuit skyscrapers.
No one else sounds like this and they couldn’t if they tried. It also seemed that way when Chris & Cosey started out more than three decades ago, and took years for the world to (almost) catch up. Maybe the fevered knowledge, telepathic grand passions and unearthly sonic arsenals being unleashed on ‘f (x)’ are the sound of a distant electronic future but, logistically, that would be doubtful given the unique working methods at large here. What is clear is that this sublimely evocative work comes as a welcome furnace blast in the rather predictable present as three true originals run riot and put everything in a supernaturally alternative perspective.