Chris Carter channels vintage electronica and folk for exquisite solo return
Posted on: Wednesday 28th of March 2018
The extent to which melody plays a pivotal role in many of the 25 short pieces that comprise Chris Carter’s Chemistry Lessons Volume 1 may come as a surprise to those who still associate Chris Carter with his membership of hugely influential late ‘70s industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle. But in fact it has been a tenet of much of Carter’s post-TG work, both on his own and with partner/collaborator Cosey Fanni Tutti under the monikers of Chris & Cosey and Carter Tutti.
On his first solo album for 17 years – although extensive studio and live work with Carter Tutti and the reunited TG means that he has been anything but idle in the interim – Carter alloys an almost folk song-like melodic sensibility to frequently gorgeous electronic textures. “When I started the Chemistry Lessons project it wasn’t even conceived as an album,” he recalls. “I needed to do something different that wasn’t Throbbing Gristle or Chris & Cosey. I was about five years into the project when Cosey suggested that I probably had enough material for a whole album.”
Some tried-and-trusted gear including a Roland V-Synth XT and JP8080 synth, “ancient custom” Elektron Machinedrum andEventide H8000FW effects unit were again pressed into service during the CCCL V1 sessions at Carter and Tutti’s Norfolk home studio. “But I suppose my main ‘instrument’ is a large Eurorack modular system I’ve had for many years, which is in an infinite process of flux,” notes Carter. “I do have favourite modules and module manufacturers, but parts of my system also have a high churn rate. It still amazes me how many new modules are announced each month – dozens of them. What usually happens is I’ll buy a few new modules for a specific project thinking I’ll keep them, but more often than not I use them to death to get the most out of them, or get bored with them, eventually sell them on, and the process begins again.”
Although Carter is a long-term user of Logic Pro who describes the invention of DAWs as “the best thing to happen to the recording process”, he does have reservations about the “sometimes overwhelming” volume of plug-ins. “I mean, how many different compressors do we REALLY need? I get endless emails and see news stories about the next big thing in plugins… the next ‘must have’ plugin of the week or whatever. Ironically, it’s all become just noise and distraction.”
A CCCL V2 release is entirely possible but unlikely to be imminent since there is “a backlog of unreleased Carter Tutti and Throbbing Gristle material to wade through first”. There is, however, no chance of a Carter memoir along the lines of Tutti’s superbly evocative memoir, Art Sex Music, which was published to great acclaim by Faber & Faber in 2017.
“Nope… no way. I’ll tell my story with my music.”
Chris Carter’s Chemistry Lessons Volume 1 is released by Mute on 30 March.
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