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Strings of Consciousness - From Beyond Love

From Beyond Love is the second in a planned trilogy of releases from Strings Of Consciousness, a collaborative venture based around composers Hervé Vincenti and Philippe Petit, involving various guest vocalists. Their first releases Our Moon Is Full featured vocal contributions from J.G. Thirlwell, Scott McCloud, Eugene S. Robinson and Barry Adamson. - who released it on his Central Control International label. From Beyond Love's vocal contributions come from Julie Christmas (Made Out Of Babies), Andria Degens (Pantaleimon), Graham Lewis (Wire), Cosey Fanni Tutti (Chris & Cosey/Throbbing Gristle), and an astonishing duet between Lydia Lunch and Oxbow's Eugene S. Robinson. That vocal line-up may excite you but the musical work is just as enticing.

I must confess I was slow to catch up on the work of Philippe Petit. Sure, I had the single with Cosey Fanni Tutti, but I only woke up to his formidable talent when I received the ASVA - Philippe Petit release, Empires Should Burn. That release was built around electronic and acoustic instrumentation, Strings Of Consciousness, likewise, fuse acoustic music and digital technology but here the result is more group based with a lean avant rock sound that takes in jazz, experimental music, turntabilism and more besides.

Strings of Consciousness have lent heavily on the vocalists, which, at times, has the effect of making From Beyond Love sound like a compilation. But, for the most part, as well as taking these vocalists out of their comfort zone; it places them in musical forms they're less associated with. Who for one would expect to see the likes of Graham Lewis, Andria Degens, Julie Christmas linked to a release that touches upon jazz or avant rock.

The opening track, 'The Drone From Beyond Love', builds from a loose improvisation of cymbalum and cello chords with quiet guitar notes. Wailing against cello chords Julie Christmas (Made Out of Babies) comes across like a cross between Bjork and Cerys Mathews. Just as the entire piece grows with drum machine rhythms and organ littered with strokes of guitar, Christmas's voice gets progressively more powerful chiming with the soaring guitar lead.

From an interplay between low buzzing drone and clarinet, 'Sleepwalker' adopts an almost rock sound structure, with low bass tones and chiming guitar at its core. I say almost as this is rock music played with strings and electronics, sprinkled with wailing sax and the gorgeous earthy voice of Pantaleimon's Andria Degens. "I am not a sleepwalker" she coos endearingly. The contrast between Degen's pure tones and the intricacies of the music is quite something.

A jazz influence seeps into the following track too, with restrained melodic singing from Wire's Graham Lewis. The free-from nocturnal trumpet playing of Andy Diagram, coupled with the double bass and cymbal heavy rhythm ensures 'Bugged' captures a late night jazz feel for the most part until an atmospheric interlude sees it return with a cinematic edge with added guitar twang and organ. Just as 'Bugged' ranks as the most immediately accessible track on From Beyond Love, 'Finzione' is by far the most experimental.

With an atmosphere thick with drones and vinyl crackling, Cosey Fanni Tutti lays down her breathy voice to dreamy textures. Here the trumpet playing of Andy Diagram is heavily effected, parping sporadically over a soft meandering bassline, cut with the metallic clash of Tibetan singing bowls, vinyl pops and the occasional electric harp strum. Even though it doesn't push Cosey into new areas - with layers of electronics and slinky bass pulse, 'Finzione' would easily fit on Carter Tutti's Feral Vapours Of The Silver Ether - it is an effective if slight track.

The highlight of From Beyond Love is undoubtedly the brutally unflinching 'Hurt Is Where The Home Is' featuring the pained and paired voices of Lydia Lunch and Oxbow's Eugene S. Robinson in a remarkable 20 minute track delivered over three parts. It's a duet but there's little interplay between them. Over drones punctuated with Petit's cymbalum and percussive flourishes the mocking sneer of Lunch is cast against Robinson's anguished howl. As it unfolds it swells from piano stabs into jarring jazz guitar propelled by processed rhythms where Robinson, left alone, cuts loose with an agonising outpouring of anguish and distress. With Robinson, emotionally battered and beaten, the final section is awash with vinyl pops and symphonic drone ending on the drifting saxophone playing of Perceval Bellone. In many ways Strings Of Consciousness are an experimental band; their approach to sound is avant garde but the compositions, built from acoustic and electronic compositions are structured in such a way that when coupled with the varied vocalists, the final result is an appealing collection of - dare I say it - songs. The lush and complex music is perfectly realised but it's the emotions expressed by the vocalists, and in particular Lunch and Robinson, which are best remembered. With From Beyond Love, Strings of Consciousness have made experimental music palatable and approachable. Great stuff and I can't wait to find out what the next instalment brings. For more information go to