Leslie Winer / CM von Hausswolff - (1)Leslie Winer has long been an intriguing figure to me, an eighties fashion model who while in London frequented Leigh Bowery's infamous Taboo nightclub. In New York in the seventies she lived with Jean Michael Basquiat and became acquainted with the Beats in the form of William S. Burroughs and Herbert Huncke. But it is her association with musicians connected to Adam And The Ants that really gets me. She had a short lived marriage to Kevin Mooney, and was instrumental in his post Ants projects Max and Wide Boy Awake.
This is her first proper album since Witch, a cult album with a turbulent history which first surfaced as a white label before its official release in 1993 on Transglobal Underground's own label. Its hazy atmosphere, spoken passages laced with samples and dub infused beats, has as many commentators pointed out laid down something of a blueprint to what became known as trip hop - something which Winer herself has reservations about. Witch featured a rich ensemble of artists including bassist Jah Wobble, filmmaker John Maybury, and various ex-Ants musicians including Mooney and Matthew Ashman, alongside Mooney's former Max/Wide Boy Awake associate John Keogh, as well as Karl Bonnie of Renegade Soundwave. Winer also featured on Sinead O'Connor's The Lion and the Cobra which in various formations also included Mooney, Marco Pirroni, and O'Connor's ex-husband John Reynolds, who also turns up on Witch. The interconnectedness between these players beggars belief and that's without bringing in John Gosling's Mekon whose releases feature many of the aforementioned, as well as Winer herself.
But that's just the backstory. In 2010 The Tapeworm released & That Dead Horse, a collection of unreleased recordings, while 2012 saw the release of & © on The Wormhole, containing material from the aforementioned Witch with other material recorded in Miami and collaborations with Vincent Gallo and Christophe Van Huffel. Van Huffel would go on to work with Winer as Purity Supreme releasing the guitar strewn atmospherics of Always Already as a 12-inch on Ash International. It was around this point The Tapeworm's Philip Marshall brought together Leslie Winer and Swedish sound artist and composer Carl Michael von Hausswolff, who agreed to collaborate on music. The results are (1).
It's easy to regard Winer's delivery as a stream of consciousness, but there's thought behind her lyrics and particularly in the emphasis found within her phrasing. Lines appear and then reappear later in another form, as she plays with reality, in a voice deeper and more lived in than the mischievous delivery of Witch. It's difficult to ascertain Winer's viewpoint in her words on (1), as they sway between the poetic and the philosophical, especially on the longer tracks found on the first side. On 'I'll Be Mother' over a discreet ringing drone, she ruminates about "the next generation" and the need for "a pharmacological method of making people love." Her husky drawl, speaks of a susceptible populace where "we are creators, yet we have also been created". "I'll Be Mother" she repeats, adopting the role of the maternal figure characterised in the ritual of making tea. Winer, as executor to the works of Herbert Huncke, has long been associated with the Beats, but it is in the following track the friendship and the education learned from William Burroughs comes to the fore. 'I'll Be Mother' may have touched upon the Control Process that Burroughs dwelt on, but 'This Discreet Organ' looks to transformative powers of interconnectedness, touching upon observation and evolutionary evidence to question "long held notions of who and what we think we are" where time, sequence, speech, language and pattern recognition play a role. This is Winer in full-on philosopher mode: "The concept of what a thing looks like takes precedence over direct observation". In measured breathless tones she reflects on human development and the need for sleep, questioning evolution, biology and gender roles when she inquires "Did women throw enough spears?" Mirroring Burroughs she asks "Who is running the show?" over Von Hausswolff's lingering drone.
More than ever on 'Can I Take Your Order' her husky, hesitant delivery apes the sardonic drawl of a Burroughs reading. The text concerning culture and patriarchy is cut-up with various sections reappearing and reformed over the powerful undulating drones of von Hausswolff. While much of von Hausswolff's score is understated and subtle it is much more prevalent here - and in all the tracks on side 2 - gently swelling around Winer's fragmented oblique text entwining biographies of an aspiring writer and isolated academic. Juddering glacial tones form a frosted layer to the treated, distant and hard to discern delivery of Winer on 'Weatherman'. The closing track 'Talked To Some Of Them', additionally features and is credited to Thomas Nordanstad. It is taken from Electra, Texas 2008, the third in a series of films by CM von Hausswolff and filmmaker Thomas Nordanstad. The music is reduced to arching electronics, rising and falling behind Winer's fragmented musings, recycling text that originally surfaced on 'I'll Be Mother'. "This seems to be the final revolution", she muses, over effects resembling distant tolling bells.
Last year, Leslie Winer, in a photographic session by Juergen Teller, became the face of Vivienne Westwood's 2014 campaign, and amidst all the Tapeworm associated releases it seems Leslie Winer, from her reclusive life in France, is making tentative steps back to into the public arena. Without downplaying von Hausswolff 's contribution here my focus on (1) is in on Winer, her voice and the spoken word text giving form to her philosophy and current thinking. (1) won't garner the gushing words that surround Witch, recently reissued by Superior Viaduct, but (1) does show she still has much to say, and (1) is worth seeking out, especially if either artist is of interest. For more information go to Monotype Records