LP / CD / DL
Acclaimed artist, performer, musician and author Cosey Fanni Tutti releases her first solo album since 1982’s Time To Tell this February. Simon Tucker reviews for Louder Than War.
“My life is my art, my art is my life” – Cosey Fanni Tutti
So begins the press release for Cosey Fanni Tutti’s first solo album since 1982’s Time To Tell. Usually this means what you are about to receive is some first-time drone enthusiast releasing his debut cassette album of bedroom cuts. This is different. This is the real deal. You see, the above quote isn’t hyperbole or an embellishment. Tutti has been at the vanguard of the UK (and beyond) art / music scene for approximately five decades now and anyone who has followed her career knows that she has bled, suffered, lived and breathed her art. From the days of COUM Transmissions to the game-changing Throbbing Gristle and beyond via her solo works or the music she has made with her partner Chris Carter, Tutti has never once held back and created something for the sake of it. There’s no product here. It’s not built for disposable consumption. Cosey’s 2017 memoir Art Sex Music was an often unflinching portrayal of what it is like to live in a coercive controlled relationship that had spilled over into violence. The book was not another rawk star yawn fest but an honest chapter in the art/life existence that is Cosey Fanni Tutti.
Returning to the solo music side of her personality, TUTTI is an album that feels like an audio mirror to the Art Sex Music memoir. Tutti herself has said that all the work she had done over the last few years (the COUM Transmissions retrospective, Art Sex Music, the reissue of Time To Tell) fed into this albums creation making it an album that is an “interpretation of my past and present, of my understanding the shifting perceptions of how they inform one another.” and it is this autobiographical nature that makes this one of Tutti’s finest works to date. Throughout the eight pieces were are presented with here, we tap into the various chapters of Tutti’s life whether that be the confrontational nature of early Throbbing Gristle or the various twists and turns she has taken as part of Chris & Cosey, Carter Tutti Void or Carter Tutti. There are moments where you will recognise a faint echo of something familiar yet Cosey takes that familiarity and turns it into a work that is still 100% progressive making TUTTI an album that never once sounds retro or dated.
The first sign that TUTTI is to be an album that plays with a specific timeline comes in the form of the opening title track which heralds its arrival on the sound of Cosey’s beloved cornet, an instrument that goes back to the days of TG. Cosey riffs on this instrument creating a clarion call. A triumphant sound that signposts to the listener that here is someone reclaiming their past, absorbing its message and charging forth into their chosen future. The electronic bed that drives the song along is foreboding yet sensual and this is where we land on another mainstay of Cosey Fanni Tutti’s work…..sex.
TUTTI is an album that is primal and animalistic. A seductive work that taps into that most base human need. It is the language of sex that is often overlooked in modern music. On what is basically an instrumental album, Tutti manages to say more about human interaction, desires, and needs than most modern music. It allows for a conversation about the subject of sex. It is not soft-focus genteel television drama sex either. It is the sound of biting-shoulders and totally free fucking. On Sophic Ripple we are taken to the edges of what modern society would deem “acceptable” (a theme that runs throughout the life of Cosey) as it slowly grinds into life, unfolding at its own pace. Erotic and dystopian. Sex on a knife-edge where those involved are completely free from the outside world and its dated set of standards.
The deepness and richness in sound on TUTTI makes it an album where it exists in its own world. There are so many little pathways and diversions you can take whilst listening to it. Each time you go back you can choose a different one to follow and you will find something new and extraordinary. The sound design also brings forward the thought that Tutti is one of the finest producers out there and you wonder why more people are not going to her to produce their album. As Orenda closes the album, you get a feel that this is a convergence point for all of Cosey’s work to date as over its five minutes she brings in little snippets of elements from what has gone before, slowly building to a crescendo then fading out with each element leaving before all we are left with is silence. This is the end. Absorb and now paint your own future.
With TUTTI, Cosey Fanni Tutti has made an album that sings the many joys that can be found in not just the avant-garde scene but in this life experience as well. It is human and humane, fierce and proud. A truly wonderful statement by one of our most important artists. Who knows what the next chapter in the life of Cosey Fanni Tutti contains but you can guarantee one thing, it will never be anything other than interesting.