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Attrition - All Mine Enemys Whispers

First it was Les Sentiers Conflictuels & Andrew King setting the letters of Jack the Ripper to music, and now we have Attrition providing a musical exploration of the life and death of Mary Ann Cotton, a Victorian serial killer responsible for the death of 16-21 of her own children, lovers and husbands by arsenic poisoning. While Les Sentiers Conflictuels & Andrew King relied on history and myth, Attrition have a direct familial link: Martin Bowes is a direct descendant of the arresting police officer, whose daughter, Louisa, in a strange quirk of fate, worked for Mary Ann Cotton as a seamstress at the time of her arrest and conviction in 1873.

For All Mine Enemys Whispers Attrition have enlisted the talents of Ned Kirby (Stromkern), Laurie Reade (High Blue Star), Ute Mansell, Erica Mulkey (Rasputina) and Emilie Autumn playing out the tale of Mary Ann Cotton through haunting electronics overlaid with passages of cello, piano, Victorian nursery rhymes and Christian hymns. It's a surreal and quite chilling representation avoiding any straightforward narrative.

'What Shall I Sing', the opening track, consists of haunting electronics, a tinkering piano melody, stuttering sax sounds, sinister mutterings and the fragmented reciting of a nursery rhyme read by Bowes's young son and daughter. Shuffling feet, mordant cello, discordant and scraping strings create the chilling atmosphere of 'The Burial Club'. Better still is the 'The Reinsch Test' where curious whisperings and hissing electronics coalesce, slowly moving into classical piano score above the feint hiss of windswept atmospherics and sinister cello movements. On 'The Gates of Eternity' atmospheric electronics are augmented by the sounds of running footsteps, the clangs and bangs of the jailhouse, and the creaking wood of the trapdoor. A sorrowful violin score plays throughout, as electronic shudders signify the drop and slow and painful demise of Mary Ann Cotton. You can almost picture the body swinging on the opening bars of the Christian hymn 'Rock of Ages', sung by Emilie Autumn, her passionate rendering couched in weeping and wailing strings. A series of billowing groans and uneasy black atmospherics set against cello stabs and short bursts of saxophone create the genuinely unsettling final piece 'Heaven Is My Home'.

All Mine Enemys Whispers incorporates the dark ambient and neo-classicalism usually associated with Attrition but in order to deal with the subject matter it's performed in a rather bleak and chilling manner. It's a nice addition to the Attrition catalogue and those with a penchant for the macabre won't want to miss out. The packaging has been lovingly compiled with images of Mary Ann Cotton, her sewing box - gifted to and now in the possession of Martin Bowes, and poison bottles. The first 1000 copies include reproduction stickers of original Victorian poison bottle labels. For more information go to www.attrition.co.uk or www.projekt.com