|Carter Tutti & Current Ninety
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
This was the debut UK performance for Carter Tutti, who had earlier in the week performed their inaugural show in Spain as part of the LEM festival. The duo who for the past 22 years had recorded under the monicker Chris & Cosey, had adopted this slight name change to offset expectations and to reflect their move to more ambient based recordings. Their set-up remained quite similar to their last UK show at the Union Chapel, London, although the technologies had certainly progressed. Chris Carter sat at a table strewn with equipment including 2 Macs, while Cosey Fanni Tutti, who looked radiant in sleeveless black top - with matching handbag!, took centre stage at the front. A large video screen above projected Carter Tutti imagery. The music was formless, rhythmic electronics, occasionally opting for pulse-like beats. It was comparable to the ambient textures of their EAR releases. Cosey enlisted the atmospherics with a human element, her breathy vocals proving to be both sinister and soothing. Cosey augmented Chris's electronics with an array of instrumentation including harmonica, cornet and stick guitar. All were effected and delayed before being seamlessly woven back into the electronic score.
It's a pity that we may not hear the melodic rhythms of Chris & Cosey again but this was a satisfying performance from the former wreckers of civilisation, providing a commendable blend of sensual and sensitive electronics. Carter Tutti are already working on their debut release, and preparing for their performance at RE-TG, a weekend long festival to celebrate industrial music in the 21st Century curated by the four members of Throbbing Gristle. In the meantime keep a look out for further volumes of their Electronic Ambient Series where both members pursue a more improvised and personal approach to sound.
The Guardian had listed the event as a night of industrial atmospherics. Mmmmm. It certainly wasn't too wide of the mark for the Current Ninety Three performance. Soft Black Stars and Sleep Has His House had captured Current Ninety Three in a transitional phase, but for tonight in the auspicious surroundings of the Queen Elizabeth Hall David Tibet's Christian apocalyptic outfit appeared to change direction once again, almost rekindling the spirited folk music captured so beautifully on Earth Covers Earth and Thunder Perfect Mind.
The hirsute frame of Karl Blake opened the evening with the solitary evocative line: "Why can't we all just walk away?" - from All The Pretty Little Horses - before leaving the stage to be replaced by the musicians of Current Ninety Three. Below a projection of one of his favourite paintings from his Wain collection, David Tibet was joined by a mixture of familiar and new faces. Joe Budenholzer of Backworld performed acoustic guitar, while for the evening Michael Cashmore, sporting a long Satanic goatee beard provided electric guitar. John Contreras performed cello while Joolie Wood performed everything from violin, flute to recorder. At the rear of the stage two pianos - one played by Maja Elliot - stand back-to-back. With their colourful suits the collective looked like a bunch of refined eccentrics when compared to the evil looking ragggle-taggle bunch that graced the cover of Earth Covers Earth.
David Tibet is a remarkable performer. He appears so pained, delivering reams of ruminations and complex lyrics with such conviction and passion. It looks like he embodies all the world's suffering as he bounces, and strides gesticulating, and pointing his boney fingers into the air. Each word is enunciated beautifully and delivered with such conviction. A curious little hair bunch makes his face appear tighter and more pained. A taped version of 'Long Shadows' opens the evening before they dig deep into the past for 'Alone'. This was the first of many old songs revisited and reassembled for the evening. 'Mary Waits in Silence' from the newly reissued Thunder Perfect Mind, and the truly exquisite 'All The World Makes Great Blood' capture the musicians at their finest. 'Calling For Vanished Faces II' remains a stable cornerstone of the set, the highpoint being the tapping on the stage floor signifying the doorknock of The Inmost Light'. This one song captures the spirit of Current Ninety Three and conveys the essence of the transience of life so eloquently. 'Good Morning Great Morloch' and 'Sign In The Stars' appeared with fresh arrangements to include all musicians. 'Signs in the Stars' benefitting particularly with the inclusion of guitar and violin. 'Whilst the Night Rejoices Profound and Still' featured just beautiful melodic piano and Tibet's emotive vocal. The intimacy continued with an intensely personal reading of 'Sleep Has His House', Tibet's elegy to his late father, with piano once again replacing the harmonium of the original. It is still very moving to watch. Although given the upheavals in my own life over the past months I was relieved to find a far friendlier Current Ninety Three this evening and a far healthier David Tibet, when compared to the fragile figure that lead the musicians at the Bloomsbury Theatre. During the encore Tibet playfully swaps jokes with the audience. In reference to an envelope that had been placed on the stage David Tibet quipped that if its contains money it should be given to his accountant.
A number of new tracks (or perhaps from the recent Hypnagogue release - I missed that one) were aired this evening including a beautiful swirling guitar motif from Budenholzer and Cashmore. Later on in the set we, once again, fell back into 'Fields of Rape' with Cashmore's guitar gradually building into a rousing crushing crescendo to accompany Tibet's wailings, it appeared to be backed by the eerie atmospherics of 'Dogs Blood Rising'. Stranger still was the sound of Freya Aswynn's guttural invocation echoing out of the speakers as backing to the particularly exquisite 'So: This Empire Is Nothing'.
'Death of the Corn' appeared as an encore demonstrating why Current Ninety Three were once regarded as contemporary wicker men - "and who will die for the death of the corn?" This was a particularly strong rendition of one of my favourite Current Ninety Three tracks taken from Horsey. One by one, the members would depart the stage leaving only feedback to emanate from Michael Cashmore's guitar. An appreciative audience demanded more and were rewarded with 'Locust' bookending the set with material from Imperium. This was a very melancholic track to close the night featuring some harsh sloppy basslines from Michael Cashmore over taped atmospheric backing.
A small child closed the evening with the now familiar "God Is Love" refrain. Current Ninety Three shows are always special, and this was no different. It perhaps didn't scale the heights of previous London shows but it was an interesting retrospective set culled from the archives, which up until this evening appeared to have been confined to the past. Unfortunately the appearance of Marc Almond and Antony that had been scheduled for a major Current Ninety Three London show in 2003 didn't happen. Shows for 2004 are already being scheduled.
Carter Tutti - www.cartertutti.com
Current 93 - www.durtro.com
World Serpent - www.worldserpent.com