- The industrial music pioneer returns with her first solo LP in 36 years.
- Despite her prolific work with others, Cosey Fanni Tutti has rarely released music on her own. From nearly the moment she became entangled in Hull's psychedelics-fueled art scene, she closely associated herself with her collaborators, creating a second family from them after her father kicked her out of the house as a teenager. It was her first creative partner, Genesis P-Orridge, who dubbed her "Cosmosis," and with whom she created COUM, the art collective that would eventually lead to the formation of the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle. As P-Orridge became, by Tutti's accounts, abusive and controlling, she settled down with the group's electronics mastermind, Chris Carter. After the group disbanded, Tutti and Carter started releasing music together as Chris & Cosey.
Tutti's solo music is glaring, as her entire life seems to be brimming with creative output, bleeding into literature, art, film and pornography. Her first and last solo album up to this point, 1983's Time To Tell, was an exploration of genre and of her own philosophies, traversing ambient movements, atonality and twinkling synthesis. Its lyrics critiqued capitalism and consumerism with a razor-sharp edge that still feels potent today.
On TUTTI, Tutti's first album in 36 years, she eschews spoken word for drone and ambience, building a world that serves, she says, as a unique summation of her life's work. It was originally composed as an accompaniment to Harmonic COUMaction, an art film she produced as she was writing her memoir, 2017's Art Sex Music. "The album is an interpretation of my past and present," Tutti says, and this rings true as a cornet, a signature of sorts for the artist, wails through the propulsive title track.
Tutti has what she's called a "built-in aversion to repetition," and she doesn't stay in one mode for too long. "Sophic Ripple" progresses ominously with buzzy synths that build and retreat like waves. The effect is at once calming and foreboding, with a quiet bassline hinting at a beat without ever coming to the fore. The album surprises throughout—Tutti's voice, rippled and soft on "Heliy," lends the record a tactile humanity. Layered behind bubbly synths and crackling sequencers, it is a quiet suggestion of authorship, or presence—a reminder of the woman behind the record's vast soundscapes.
The music production on TUTTI, like its 1983 predecessor, has a timeless quality. Situated at the border of ambient, new age, techno and industrial music, the album could just as easily fit into a meditative practice as a gritty basement rave. It is also a testament to her technical prowess as an electronic composer. But perhaps more importantly, it lives and breathes her insistence on exploring new sounds and techniques. It may not bear the sort of shocks that made COUM and Throbbing Gristle the target of Tory MPs, but then Tutti never did find pleasure in repetition.
04. Sophic Ripple