Picking up where they left off for a third outing, two guys pretend to be two girls all over again
The transformation of Simon Fisher Turner from youthful pop star to an award-winning soundtrack composer, via a stint as Derek Jarman’s go-to composer, is one of music’s most intriguing stories, full of chance encounters and collaborations. Turner’s work with electronics dates back to the tail end of his nascent pop career, when he began fiddling around with a Revox tape machine, arriving more or less at the same time as he began playing around with his own identity, adopting names like the King Of Luxembourg to separate himself from his earlier path.
In a career filled with all sorts of partnerships, from Terre Thaemlitz to Factory Floor, one of the most enduring Turner projects was Deux Filles, a band that saw Turner and former The The member and esteemed producer Colin Lloyd-Tucker create a whole storyline and mythology and assuming female identities. The product of a opportunistic meeting in a watering hole while both were visiting the Cherry Red label HQ, Deux Filles was a beautifully odd proposition. As Gemini Forque (Lloyd-Tucker) and Claudine Coule (Turner), the pair developed a whole narrative around these “characters”, one involving disappearances and suspenseful intrigue, while also allowing them to don dresses and confuse audiences without ever once revealing who was really behind the project.
Deux Filles released two albums at the start of the 1980s, ‘Silence & Wisdom’ (1982) and ‘Double Happiness’ (1983) and the pair would eventually come clean about who they really were. It’s therefore perhaps of some surprise that, despite the cheeky fraud of their backstory being exposed as a deception, they would need to use the moniker for ‘Space & Time’, a long-awaited third album.
Very much picking up where they left off, ‘Space & Time’ is an expansive and frequently arresting collection of 24 discrete and varied pieces taking in all sorts of sounds from around the globe. Aside from audience manipulation, one of the most interesting things about Deux Filles was the sheer breadth of Lloyd-Tucker and Turner’s musical scope, from experimental pop to soundscapes, both collaborators being capable of picking up more or less any instrument and making it work in a brave and unexpected context.
That same spirit of unbridled experimentation runs through the short segments of ‘Space & Time’, with tracks ranging from ambient texture (‘Horsebox Parade’), distorted saw-wave buzz (‘Mouth Popsicle Explosion’), maudlin Latin guitar-laced with subtle electronic sequences (‘Soft Crushed Love’) to gospel reverence (‘Happy Clappy’) to menacing pseudo-classical structures forced into new, almost Cageian shapes by aggressive processing and manipulation (‘Twinblade Sofa Cull’). Though occasionally playful, somewhat like the metaphorical journey taken by Messrs Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty on KLF’s ‘Chill Out’, there is a vaguely sombre tone to many of the pieces here, with tracks like ‘Treasure Trove Of Memories’, with its pretty synth filigrees, carrying a delicate, fragile and mournful quality that is sweetly evocative.
Projects covering so much musicological ground can often appear peripatetic and elusive, and ‘Space & Time’ is most definitely both of those. It’s almost as if, after sloughing off the mask of assumed identity, Lloyd-Tucker and Turner went all-out and loaded these vignettes with even greater levels of musical intrigue and impenetrable mystique. In doing so, ‘Space & Time’ acts as a wonderfully quirky next chapter in the weird story of Claudine and Gemini.