f (x) by Carter Tutti Void (2015)

“Wreckers of civilisation” is how one Conservative MP described COUM Transmissions, a performance art collective that existed from 1969-76 which set out to challenge norms and other aspects of British society. The year it disbanded its core members, Genesis P-Orridge, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, formed industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle. The four-piece went beyond punk, taking the industrial aesthetic seriously, gaining a reputation for their dystopian, anti-commercial sound and for being artistically confrontational and uncompromising in their exploration of a range of taboo subjects.

Carter Tutti Void are effectively an extension of Throbbing Gristle’s pioneering work, a cross-generational collaboration between Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti (aka Chris & Cosey), and Nik Void of Factory Floor, part of a new wave of post-industrial electronic music. They first came together after being invited to Mute’s Short Circuit Festival in 2011, playing an improvised four-song set in front of about 200 people at Camden’s Roundhouse which was recorded and then released the following year as Transverse. Their collaboration was very well received, with further live dates taking place and anticipation surrounding a follow-up building, eventually culminating in the release of  f (x).

They describe their first studio album together as “expanding and exploring onwards” from Transverse. In seeking to keep the spontaneous element of their initial collaboration alive, they recorded three improvised sessions and then edited the best bits together. The trio go about their work with Carter creating repetitive rhythms and pulsing, demonic beats, which Tutti and Void respond to (and each other) by manipulating guitars and vocals using various effects, bows and other methods. What they create is essentially a form of industrial techno with a mix of noise, ambient and drone.

f (x) contains six tracks, each lasting between around eight to ten minutes. It’s an immersive experience, one that requires your full attention and plenty of volume. Opener “f=(2.4)” is the longest track, featuring a gentle pulse with synths, scraped guitar strings and other effects, before getting heavier and picking up pace. “f=(2.5)” is full of groaning and yawning vocal manipulations over a menacing and persistent beat. “f=(2.2)” thumps and shuffles along like a night train as all manner of guitar manipulations weave and interweave around it.

“f=(2.3)” is probably the most challenging track, with incredibly disturbing vocals which sound like a ghost trapped inside a machine and a loud pulsing beat that feels like you’re having a panic attack. “f=(2.6)” contains yet more haunting vocals that are as close to actual lyrics as the album produces, appearing in between various forms of yelping as the beat trudges along. The album closes with the excellent “f=(2.7),” which builds featuring ringing guitars and other manipulations that swirl and envelope themselves around the hypnotic, throbbing beat.

The trio put out a warning with their press release that the album is “not for the fainthearted,” which when listening to parts of  f (x) could be said to be an understatement. It’s certainly not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy dark, pulsing and paranoid industrial techno with plenty of manipulated noise that sounds like a machine having a horrific nightmare, then you’ll love this.

Top Tracks: f=(2.2); f=(2.7)

Released: 11 September 2015

Label: Industrial Records

Genres: Industrial; Techno; Electronic; Noise

Rating: 8/10

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