Chris Carter - Electronic Ambient Remixes Volume ThreeChris Carter was one-quarter of the pioneering industrial outfit Throbbing Gristle. For Electronic Ambient Remixes Three he has returned to the original rhythms he created for that confrontational non-music group. The rhythms that appear on Electronic Ambient Remixes Three first appeared on such TG recordings as Heathen Earth, and 20 Jazz Funk Greats.
This isn't a remix album in the traditional sense. The idea behind Chris and Cosey's Electronic Ambient Remix series is to manipulate sound pieces they had previously created; to remix and reinterpret yet retain the original spirit.
Chris Carter has stripped the music back to its rhythmic foundation and subsequently added fresh layers of sound. In doing so TG's visceral wall of sound is replaced with something ominous, brooding and just as exciting. The flickering tones of 'Indisciplined', the swirling vortex of 'Heathen Mirth', to the bowel churning sounds of 'What Is Today'. 'Not On The Heals of Love' features electro shimmers, while an ice cold piano melody blows over bubbling analogue electronics on 'Someone Came Over Here'. Everything on EAR3 is reverberated, echoed and textured. There are a myriad of layers of sound to unravel. There are even bass shudders that can be felt just as often as being heard.
Traces of those familiar TG rhythms can be detected especially within 'Convicting People', 'Not On The Heels of Love' and 'Hamburger Man'. One of the most fascinating things about EAR3 is Carter's ability to take TG's primitive rhythms and transform them into dark ambient and nightmare soundscapes.
There's still a steady stream of TG releases today but Electronic Ambient Remixes Three is a necessary purchase that should appeal to those with a penchant for deep ambient soundscapes and TG aficionados alike.
Chris Carter was kind enough to take some time out from working on the upcoming TG 24 hour boxed set release to answer some questions from compulsiononline.
i) EAR1 remixed and reinvented your 1980 solo album The Space Between. Where did the idea to return to the original Throbbing Gristle rhythms originate for EAR3? Should EAR3 be regarded as a TG piece or a separate Chris Carter project? How did it feel returning to the old tapes? What sort of feelings did it rekindle: Fond memories? Critical eye?
EAR3 is purely a Chris Carter release and the other members of TG have absolutely no connection with it. The only elements of TG I've incorporated into it are my own rhythms. I don't think Sleazy or Genesis are aware of its existence yet and although Cosey knew I was recording it she didn't hear it until I'd finished the album. I still have vivid memories and mixed feelings about my personal life and situation while recording those original rhythms and the recording of EAR3 was a decidedly egocentric process and in some ways also quite cathartic.
The conception for EAR3 came about a couple of years ago while researching and compiling the parts for the first EAR release. In our archive we have hundreds of original Throbbing Gristle tapes and cassettes, if nothing else TG were fastidious documenters of pretty much everything we ever played or performed. While I was searching out my 'Space Between' tapes I came across all my original TG rhythm tapes and loops. Hearing them again invoked some long forgotten memories and listening to them 'out of context' and in their raw state after 25 years or so was fascinating, even to me, as I'm so used to hearing them as part of TG 'tunes'. I was also pleasantly surprised how good they sounded, considering the basic gear we used to record with. I also think (I'm being totally conceited here) that they sound years ahead of their time and 'work' just as well now as they did then.
Rediscovering those old rhythms planted the seed for the concept of an album of ambient TG tracks, in fact I have enough rhythms, loops and ideas for a second volume. So if EAR3 is received well enough there could be a follow up album.
ii) Various items of old TG equipment was sold-off recently by Studio 47. Did EAR3 utilise a lot of new equipment? What's your preference regarding digital and analogue keyboards and recording?
It's quite ironic because rediscovering the old TG rhythm tapes and recording EAR3 set off a whole chain of events (too convoluted and boring to go into detail here) but which ultimately resulted in my decision to finally sell much of the original gear used to make those rhythms. EAR3 took about six months to record and towards the end I was desperately trying to finish tracks before shipping gear to buyers or before they were due to turn up at the studio to collect stuff.
My/our recording preferences are pretty mixed and extremely variable, using both analogue and digital side by side. We've been recording digitally for some time now, originally direct to DAT from the early 1990's then moving to direct-to-disc some years ago. I particularly don't care if I use real synth or effect unit or a software plug-in, if it gets the result I'm after I'll use anything. Although I have to admit to recently discovering the joys of recording on an Apple iBook laptop using just software, plug-ins and a pair of headphones.
Until last year we were still recording with some analogue gear and instruments that we'd had since TG days. We had a big Roland 100M system, a lot of Roland analogue rhythm stuff, classic analogue effects and all sorts of analogue odds and sods. But once I had decided to sell it all I was shocked to discover how much it was worth.
I had made a half hearted attempt to sell some of it a couple of years before but I backed out at the last minute, I nearly did the same again this time. When the crunch came I have to admit it was quite emotional seeing it all go through the door never to be seen or used by us again. We still have a handful of favourite rack effects, synths, samplers and drum machines but nothing more than 10-15 years old and nothing like the amount of gear we had a year ago. The only things we have left now from Throbbing Gristle are two of the original hand-built Gristleizer effects units and two of Cosey's guitars.
iii) What do you think these remixes bring / add to the original versions?
Hopefully a different perspective. EAR3 was like an experiment to see if it was possible to take an essence of pure TG and dilute it into a kind of electronic homeopathic ambient solution. It's a perverse deconstructive diversion, to take TG rhythms in completely the opposite direction than one would expect.
If I record a second volume (and I would like to) any new tracks will go in an equally non-TG and hopefully unexpected direction (but not ambient).
iv) Chris & Cosey received the remix treatment on Twist, and Chris & Cosey have undertaken remix work for other artists. TG have been sampled by Future Sound of London, covered by Spooky, and remixed by Andrew Weatherall. What do you think of the remix format?
I like it a lot, when it works. Unfortunately 'remixed' can often mean shit made even shittier. Many of the now seemingly obligatory remixes are churned out as money spinners to a gullible fan base and just follow current formulaic and fashionable motifs. I think the most successful remixes are usually the most radical, where the tempo or structure of a song has been completely transformed, sometimes beyond nearly all recognition of the original. I've heard a lot of unreleased remixes over the years and the best ones are usually the mixes rejected by the record companies.
v) There's still a steady stream of Throbbing Gristle material today. Vinyl reissues of First Annual Report and Grief being recent examples. Is the continued availability and reissue of TG material something you encourage?
No and although the twats releasing all this stuff (and making a ton of money from it) will no doubt say otherwise we have never ever condoned bootlegging Throbbing Gristle material.
As a result of the current glut of unofficial TG releases we have recently decided to resurrect the Industrial Records label later this year. Although we have successfully managed to stop quite a few bootlegs over recent years they are still surfacing on a regular basis. We are hoping that relaunching Industrial Records, with the financial help and muscle of Mute Records (now owned by EMI), we can stem the output of what are usually 2nd generation, inferior sounding releases. For which ironically we get all the flak for releasing, even though we've had nothing to do with it. Hopefully if all the material is available legitimately through IR and Mute there will be no point in bootlegging it.
vi) 'Generic Terrorists' is the title of one track on EAR3. Do you think people miss(ed) the humour in Throbbing Gristle? What's your most humorous TG anecdote? Do you feel you spawned a monster?
Yes I'd say it's true to say many people completely missed the humour and irony in TG. Although it's also probably true that we didn't care anyway. Many hard core TG fans took it completely seriously, in the same way punks can be totally humourless. You only have to read 'The Wreckers of Civilisation' COUM/TG book to see how many different levels TG was functioning on. Throbbing Gristle was a multifaceted, many headed hydra, with a sense of humour and sharp teeth.
There are quite a few humorous TG anecdotes (see: 'The Wreckers of Civilisation') but one of my favourite was in 1980 when we all went to Disneyland and some of our 'party' dropped acid. Needless to say a merry old time was had by all. Except for Genesis though, who went on the spinning Teacups ride and came off a nice shade of green and feeling extremely ill.
vii) You're currently involved in compiling and producing a TG 24 hour live set? Could you tell us about this? Any news on the purported TG DVD?
The TG 24 hour boxed set will be released as part of the Industrial Records relaunch in December. It's a pretty major release by any standards and is an updated version of the original Industrial Records 24 hour cassette 'attaché case' release. The box packaging hasn't been finalised yet but the remastering and individual covers are almost complete. The box will contain 24 remastered 'live' CDs, a new badge, sticker, embroidered patch, TG collage and an updated TG newsletter. It will cost in the region of £200 and further details will be posted on the Mute Records web site in June/July.
Official TG DVDs will definitely see the light of day and Sleazy has recently been working on material for them but we have decided not to release anything until 2003. We'll be posting details about any forthcoming TG DVD releases on our web sites at the end of the year.
viii) What's next for yourself, Chris & Cosey, and any other projects that you're working on?
We recently finished a collaboration project with US band Mortal Loom, which should be released on their label at the end of the year. I've also done a couple of remixes for UK band nDot and we've recorded some new tracks for various compilations.
I've been recording a series of tracks on my iBook while travelling (on a plane, in a hotel etc.). This also involved recording ambient sounds and effects on a DV camera and transferring the material to the laptop for audio manipulations and tweakery. Although I'm not sure how or when (or if) this material will be released yet. Cosey is currently involved in a long term project that began in May with a successful (and well documented) covert art 'Action' at Disneyland, an occasional and recurring haunt of ours. We have many other art and music projects either underway or waiting to commence. But our main project this year will be the starting of a brand new bone fide Chris & Cosey album, our first for many years.
ix) And on a lighter note: TG predated punk, and while the Sex Pistols are regrouping to celebrate the Jubilee how will yourself and Cosey commemorate the Jubilee?
Personally I think the Royal family should be eradicated and their wealth redistributed to the nation. But regardless of my personal beliefs it's worth noting that in this year of the Jubilee TG will be 'getting together' for a meeting at Mute Records in July. This will be the first time all four of us have been in the same room (or even the same city) for God knows how many years and will be a good a time as any for a celebration.
Chris & Cosey