23 March 2012

Carter Tutti Void Knob Breakfast Haniver

Breath was baited at this, apparently, but not mine.

Not bated.

Hardly breath at all.

I mostly dislike collaborations, even when I try to like them, even when I love the collaborators.

Collaborations regress towards the mean, like motionless wrestling or mutual strangulations in the back of army trucks (a personal joke, one intended only for my future self to smirk about; sorry). I blame everyone:

1) Mike Paradinas and Richard James as Mike and Rich on the “Expert Knob Twiddlers” LP. The clue’s in the title,if you substitute ‘expert’ with ‘half-arsed’ - lovely cover though, which simultaneously transcends and drags back your expectations and then makes you feel somehow violated by the shitty bleeps and bounces of the music;

2) the recent Burial and Four Tet releases: Two singular visions transposed into some death-dull murk. There is something sad about this release, like the slightly dull ache I got at the end of The Breakfast Club where the sharp individualists and world - weary teens get safely commodified and re-coded into some homogenous gloop, where all the careful territory they establish over the course of the film is finally eroded*;

3) Whitehouse with Nurse With Wound, in all incarnations where they join their heads, turning even more singular and hair-brained visionary material into the smugly bad, the worst of both worlds, the personification of 'Look Ma! He's bleeding!' power electronic showboating. Again though, I like the cover. It's obvious perhaps but not that obvious, with enough sidestepping to make it seem surreal and Bellmeresque rather than just purely shocking.

I won’t go on, you can insert your unfaves here. The list is not endless but it's surely eminently listable; get yer nerd heads on, shove a list up for all to see. Really not at all hard to see the vapid and the prosaic emerge from even the greatest potentialities.

There are inevitable exceptions but, mostly, the whole is less than the sum of its parts (see also supergroups, see especially supergroups)

Carter Tutti Void's recent release, Transverse, is a little different. The parts don’t seem like parts at all. The fit between Factory Floor’s Nik Void and Chris and Cosey doesn’t seem at all forced and doesn’t diminish any of the participants. No one comes away degraded, no one comes away soiled.

And there was potential. A whole load of cross tangents: generational, instrumental (the two guitars could have just ho-hummed tobgether, whereas actually they play off one another like some old Jazz guys).

Throughout this shortish set, it seems like a genuine joint vision has emerged; one that sounds, if anything, a little better and more singular than any of their recent individual work. This is a genuinely new beast rather than a hastily assembled Jenny Haniver.

And the beauty of this release is that it’s as if we’re seeing the monstrous birth as it happened. Of course, we know that, really, this live performance, this pulse, has been carefully considered and worked out way before they come out on stage but the illusion of the birth is right there (fans of Throbbing Gristle will remember the anecdotes swotting back and forth about the genesis of Discipline) and very compulsive.

The four ‘movements’ (hate that phrase but it’s hardly ever been more apt) on display here show not just intentionality and purpose but a kind of hive mind (not Hive Mind) approach that works incredibly well. No one steps on anyone’s toes; instead they miraculously circle one another, adding splashes of colour or extra beats or extra drones or degraded vocals (I assume that’s Cosey). This is a really brilliant release in all senses of the word. It shines. It pulses.

*it seems fairly amazing that The Breakfast Club hasn't been remade in the slew of other 80s remakes. It fits the creeping horror genre better than the other teen movies of the time and seems ideal as a sort of commentary on the sense of loss (abandonment) felt by people of my age as the old divisions (student/nonstudent, Goth/Punk, Hippy/Raver etc) disappeared and were replaced (maybe post Nirvana?) with what people then called (incorrectly) Postmodernism but which is actually just a slow drift towards a reassuring similarity. The Breakfast Clubs is the tribes coming together without the expected (in the 60s) sense of wonder and shared understanding/ aesthetic / ethic but with an increased sense of a deathly hollow.

See also: (the supposed) voter apathy, the loss of a genuine Left, the creeping of neoliberalism as the only viable option for all the major political parties in the UK (though, perhaps, this has been overstated in the sense that the 'true' divisions were never perhaps true.


Oh, and did I mention it's a great album? Everyone should like it.

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