|Current 93, Cotton Ferox, Amal
Gamal Ensemble, Dieter Müh
October Gallery, London
The October Gallery was the host to the musical component of Salon 2003, part of the Information Wants To Be Free Festival, an annual event curated by Simon Kane and cult author and respected critic Jack Sargeant. The night before Salon hosted an evening with Cosey Fanni Tutti and Jake Chapman in Conversation at the Old Operating Theatre. Unfortunately the younger Chapman brother failed to attend, though I suspect he attended the Turner Awards later in the week. As a result Sargeant conversed with Cosey after a screening of her short film, Confessions; an example of one of her sex magazine actions with a retrospective commentary. Cosey responded to Sargeant's questions and those of the audience with refreshingly honest and personal answers that clearly show that she is still reflecting on her what her actions meant. Further exploration of her sex industry actions can be found in Confessions, a handmade limited book published in association with the Cabinet Gallery. Afterwards prime underground venue the Horse Hospital hosted an informal evening with a Carter Tutti DJ set.
Following their previous outing at the Red Rose Club, London, where their challenging experimental soundscapes slipped into the realm of altered states it's fair to say that such heady heights were not achieved tonight by the Amal Gamal Ensemble the improvising supergroup who feature Karl Blake (Shock Headed Peters, Lemon Kittens), David Knight (Shock Headed Peters, Arkkon), and Steven Thrower (Coil, Cyclobe) amongst their ranks. Maybe that's an unjust comment given that I missed a fair proportion of their performance but the sounds cajoled from abstract textures and guitar shards failed to coalesce into anything extraordinary this evening. By far the most noteworthy event was the sight of Karl Blake continuously packing his equipment during the latter part of the performance, while the other musicians appeared almost oblivious to his imminent departure. The final electronic strains of pure electricity were quite invigorating though.
Looking exquisite in a suit, and with his hair newly grown David Tibet appears to be following in the tradition of his beloved decadents such a Eric Count Stenbock. Taking his position to the right hand side of the floor Tibet backed by Maja Elliot on the hall's grand piano performed a haunting rendition of Bill Fay's 'Time of the Last Persecution'. Its apocalyptic and Christian imagery is truly stunning and given the lyrical territory it was undoubtedly only a matter of time before it came to the attention of David Tibet. They dip into the vast Current 93 archive to resurrect the apocalyptic folk of 'Black Flowers Please'. In a piano and voice setting it takes on an altogether different form. Tibet's voice has turned into a desperate cry, his Englishness defining world truths as he imparts "all the world seems to be in darkness". The end times imagery is increased by the dramatic and vibrant piano score. 'Bells 3' from the forthcoming Current 93 album proved something of a highlight. Elliot's piano score shimmered; Tibet swayed and twitched, casting off poetic lines of modern day mediocrity in his distinctive voice. It also included a particularly fine example of Tibet's dark humour: "There's a time for tea and a time for expiring". With a glancing smile to his wife Tibet launched into the scolding 'A Gothic Love Song' retelling the break up of past relationship. The short set finished with 'Antichrist and Barcodes' which unexpectedly and quite bizarrely segued into 'Under the Moon of Love'.
Tibet politely thanked the audience, closed his lyric book and departed the hall. A remarkable and moving performance, and one of the finest Current 93 performances I have wiitnessed.
Cotton Ferox, the Swedish duo comprising Thomas Tibert and Carl Abrahamsson, formerly of the TOPY affiliated White Stains, were the only overhang from last year's Salon festival at the 291 Gallery, London.
Cotton Ferox delivered an audio-visual performance combining backing tapes, live vocals and video projections of Carl Abrahamsson's gently morphing photographs. The 'Cotton Ferox Manifesto' opened their set announcing their intention to deliver "Soft beats. Hard scapes. Hard words to soft structures. Soft whispers to ravaging whipping". It continues "Cotton Ferox is the wonderful cloud in the blue sky when you're lying down on the grass, your head spinning on LSD." It's an apt description for their ambient electronics and computerised downtempo rhythms. In his slightly accented voice Carl Abrahamsson's vocal imparts insights and observations. Their hallucinogenic sounds become even more spacey on 'Psychedelic Illumination' where Abrahamsson questions those still seeking head space via drugs. During 'I Can Still Hear The Music' Abrahamsson crosses the line between performer and audience when he takes a front row seat to enjoy the visuals: 'I can still hear the music, I can still see the images", he deadpans.
With the dreadlocked Tibert seated on the floor and with Abrahamsson providing sardonic and wordy explorations it is, however, a rather sterile and clinical performance. Cotton Ferox are as much about personal research as they are about entertainment. In a night of timeless emotive music and abstract electronics the perfectly executed twilight sounds of Cotton Ferox are the only concession to contemporary sounds.
Wordship, a new CD by Thee Majesty featuring vocal contributions from Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, features music by Cotton Ferox.
After a successful performance in Augsburg, Germany Dieter Müh returned to home soil for the top billing slot at Salon 2003. The taped strains of their 7-inch single 'We're Not Happy until You're Not Happy' opened their set.
Dieter Müh's equipments comprise a mass of buttons, wires, tapes and CDs that coalesce into the finest slice of ambient power electronics. The duo are confined to the corner of the room with Uden primarily concentrating of the subtle tones of the music, aided by Cammack. The music is powerful and multi-textured; at one point Uden plunders a metal bowl rim for effect. After a gradual atmospheric build-up they're joined by eminent occultist and Crowley acolyte Lon Milo DuQuette. Du Quette, a member of the O.T.O., has penned a number of works on Crowley and is a respected writer in the field of Ceremonial Magick. Robert Anton Wilson described DuQuette's autobiography, My Life With the Spirits: The Adventures of a Modern Magician, as the most sane and sensible introduction to Western occultism.
The bulky DuQuette resplendent in a suit and tie reads an Enochian text over these abrasive textures. It's an inspired collaboration (set-up by the organiser, Simon Kane) joining the language of the angels against a backdrop of shimmering electronics.
Salon is currently the premier vehicle for bringing togther artists, musicians and writers. Add it to your calender for next year.
All Photographs: Copyright Carl Abrahamsson not for reproduction without permission.
Carl Abrahamsson - www.ubertext.se
Cosey Fanni Tutti- www.coseyfannitutti.com
Cotton Ferox - www.cottonferox.info
Current 93 - www.durtro.com
Jack Sargeant - www.jacktext.net
Salon 2003 downloads - www.ouhypo.org/salon/index.html