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Chris Carter
Electronic Ambient Remixes Vols 1 and 3 Johny Lamb , September 8th, 2021 13:01

These Mute reissues reaffirm the ex-Throbbing Gristle artist's place as master of minimal, writes Johny Lamb

One of the great pleasures of recent times has been the rediscovery of the post-Throbbing Gristle catalogue of Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, both in reissues of their older work and in their continuing creativity as Carter Tutti and Carter Tutti Void. Now Mute reissue (on vinyl for the first time) two remix albums from Chris Carter that have been out of print for quite some time.

The often absolutely magical first volume is built around The Space Between, a 1980 album comprising analogue experiments in the Throbbing Gristle studio in the late 70s. It is a fat, rich and glorious sounding set of tracks that fairly shimmers and wobbles like heat above tarmac. Carter’s skill is in allowing tracks to unfold slowly and draw huge amounts from relatively minimal ideas. ‘Beat’ is a great example of this, metallic sheets of sound troubled by spring reverb and a quiet but deep kick drum pulse.

Carter moves deftly from atonal drone experiments like ‘Clouds’ to gorgeous, sequenced pieces like ‘Poptone’ without breaking his stride. There are dub influences as well as those from electronic and experimental music, allowing for lovely delays and curious spaces within the music.

Volume Three is made from reworking twelve of Carter’s Throbbing Gristle rhythms and subsequently has a darker edge, and a sense of the sinister about it. I remember in my mid-teens being transfixed and terrified by the uncanny horror of DOA. It’s a record that has stayed with me ever since, and it’s fascinating to have some of this kind of material reworked and changed about like this. ‘Heathen Mirth’ sounds like a sort of bacterial techno landscape, exposed by microscope. This then opens out into ‘Indisciplined’, which grows to sort of insectoid size, and feels like the inner noise from the heart of an ant colony.

While these tracks are built around rhythm, Carter retains much of the timbral density and interest of the first volume of remixes. This third volume is more mobile and disorientating, but no less beautiful for it. Consider ‘Still Talking’, almost unrecognisable from its Throbbing Gristle counterpart save for the sort of tremolo pulse that holds it together. The result is hectic and troubling, and seems to have captured something of the nature of worry itself. The intensity rises towards the final three tracks, a cluster of macabre brilliance. The remix of ‘Hamburger Lady’, here called ‘Hamburger Man’, is the energetic and unstable soundtrack that all contemporary, pompous horror films now try to copy.

It often feels that Carter’s approach to ambient music is at odds with Eno’s notion that it should be “as ignorable as it is interesting” – this is engrossing, overwhelming even and all the better for it.