It’s hard to believe that it was only 5 short years ago that Barry Adamson, shortly after leaving Mute Records and opening his own modest label entitled Central Control International, found enough faith in the duo of composers Philippe Petit and Hervé Vincenti to release their initial offering: a simple pic-disc 7″ entitled “Sonic Glimpses”. Indeed, this glimpse gave a minimal but powerful look into the incredible works that these two were destined to create, but if Strings of Consciousness can be seen as an entity unto itself, Petit and Vincenti merely make up the brain and the heart respectively. SOC has, since that moment, gone on to include a wide variety of additional musicianship and consistently impressive guest spots including the likes of J.G. Thirwell (Foetus), Scott McCloud (Girls Against Boys), Eugene Robinson (Oxbow), and Pete Simonelli (EnablerS) amongst many others — all of which were present on the first album alone. That said, the project has quickly built a fruitful and celebrated career on the back of a couple of collaborations (Angel [Important Records], Kammerflimmer Kollektief [Karlrecords]), and two acclaimed full-lengths. 2012 has brought about their third album, “From Beyond Love,” after three years of studio silence
This new album is certainly no exception in terms of the guest list of musicians involved, a list which contains perhaps the most versatile group of musicians to date including a couple who need no introduction in Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle) and Andria Degens (Current 93), somewhat of a duet with the infamous Lydia Lunch and the aforementioned Eugene Robinson, as well as the talents of Julie Christmas (Made out of Babies, Battle of Mice) and Graham Lewis (Wire). That said, the duo of Petit / Vincenti is still the compositional core of this project and, as such, the sound remains familiar albeit textured by new color in sound via an array of new voices.
“The Drone from Beyond Love” sets the saturnine, emotive mood with an opening array of cello loops as performed by American cellist Alison Chesley (Helen Money / Poi Dog Pondering) — a short but complex intro to the unusually expressive vocals of Julia Christmas; a performance which I’ve deemed unusual because her work in Made out of Babies is largely focused on equal amounts of abrasiveness and unorthodox melodic approaches that fit well with her often emotionally abstract lyrics. Vincenti’s guitar performance here along with his drum programming can be described as text-book depressive trip hop ala Portishead albeit with a strong industrial edge that progresses into a heavier sound that evolves along with Christmas’ vocals to a more familiar territory for her. This track is perhaps the most straight-forward of the five, but it sets up the average listener with a foundation from which to base the emotive qualities of the rest of the album. “Sleepwalker” focuses on the industrial-influenced dark jazz side of SOC, at times featuring moments of Foetus-style orchestral genius and at others descending into an electronic-acoustic soup of surreal psychedelia. “Bugged” somewhat acts as a meeting point for both the psychedelic and emotive atmospheres, featuring a composition that is heavy in a 20′s / 30′s atmosphere via the hauntingly expressive performance of the trio of vocalist Graham Lewis, bassist Pierre Fenichel, and the infamous art-jazz trumpeter Andy Diagram. This is easily my favorite track on the album and should more than appeal to fans of the dark side of both experimental nu jazz ala the Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Joan Silverpin and, again, the tenebrous emotional side of trip hop.
Cosey Fanni Tutti’s arrival into the album comes with “Finzione”. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with this one — Cosey’s performance seemed disinterested and, complexity-wise, the track was the most minimal of the five. For reasons unknown, it was also the shortest, and seemed to represent more of an introduction to the following epic of “Hurt is where the Home is” more than anything. It doesn’t help that the English translation of “Finzione” is “fiction” — a vague theme that obviously carries with it an incredible amount of potential exploration. This low-point mirrors as the opposite to what has been celebrated by many as the most promising song on the album. “Hurt is where the Home is” features a seemingly argumentative experimental duet between Lydia Lunch and Eugene Robinson. This monolithic track features 19 minutes of abstract mental torment as voiced by Robinson — a torment that seems to be mockingly antagonized by Lunch in tone. The track itself seems to be divided into a trio of chapters as referenced by the change in pace and track structure, with the opening being the most dually vocal of the three, the second being the most rhythmically active and thus traditional in sound, and the third featuring an array of drones and pulsating, underlying industrial influences as well as Robinson’s broken-down moaning. This track is charged with energy and in many ways defines the title of the album itself. It’s crushing, brutal, and raw, not in terms of abrasiveness, but simply in terms of emotiom. It somehow manages to find beauty in feral, overwhelming angst.
01) The drone from Beyond Love
05) Hurt is where the Home is