This is one of those albums that I’m not sure where to start with. It involves musicians who have quite an extensive back catalogue in their own rights. Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti were, over course, part of Throbbing Gristle; and both have released some outstanding music since. Nik Void is one half of Factory Floor, a duo who in someways occupy that same junction of off-centre industrial dance-floor psychedelia.
Each have their own distinctive styles and approaches, but came together very effectively in 2011’s live album ‘Transverse’, which was followed up by 2015’s studio offering ‘f(x)‘. Both albums were, for me, marked out by their dark pulsating beats and sinister rhythms. These releases clearly mined the collective consciousness of the trio, and exhibited a synergy that can only really come about through contributors that are on the same sonic page.
‘Triumvirate’ is the third and final album in what has become a trilogy which, as seems often the case, is a less intense (these terms are relative) and more upbeat set than its two predecessors.
This is not immediately the case, especially if you were to put side two on first, which is what I want to do in this case. That’s because if you listen to the first three tracks first (‘T 3.2’, ‘T 3.3’ & ‘T 3.4’) you might get too much of an opinion of this being a shallower album. However, and I might be reading too much into ‘T 3.1’ being placed between ‘T 3.5’ and ‘T 3.6’, there is a case for saying that these latter three movements represent the darker and more experimental side of this release, again terminology is relative.
Collectively these latter three tracks feel to me like they represent the creative tension in the trio, and while there’s no sense that Carter, Tutti or Void are trying to outdo each other you come away with the feeling that these tracks are forged in a robust creative atmosphere; something which it seems to me is very positive. They create sonic structures and topographies that were challenging yet, for me, accessible… it feels like being on a dance floor in a milieu of post-industrial decay as the sounds burst through cavities all around us.
Compared with this, the first three tracks are absolute monster dance tunes, perhaps before the decay in terms of the track ordering. They represent for me how dance music is still relevant, not so much a re-invention but an exposition of how such music can still thrill and inspire. There is nothing remotely tired or banal about these three numbers which, collectively, are everything you would need to totally lose yourself in a brume of electronica … to just submit yourself to the music and trip away in your own universe of movement.
This is a tremendous album which feels like a further step in the development of these three musicians. It is a set which you could be forgiven for thinking is far more specifically dance-oriented, and yet there is a dark intense side to this that comes much more to the fore in the second half of the set. Overall, then, this is one of the best things I have heard this year, an album that deserves to cross-over into other areas of music… it has certainly broadened my sonic palette.
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