Celebrating the soothing, sexy synthetic sounds and videos of Chris & Cosey

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E. Little
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A tipsheet on the trailblazing British duo, who formed after Throbbing Gristle’s early ‘80s breakup.

Let’s talk about industrial music. Wait – come back! Not the relentless aggro stuff that it became, but its raw, working class foundations in 1970s England, where a quartet of art students obsessed with synthesizers, bondage, performance art and the rhythms of factory assembly lines converged as Throbbing Gristle.

A defiantly in-your-face outfit featuring by the late, great Genesis P Orridge, Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson, Chris Carter and his lifelong partner, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Throbbing Gristle spawned a league of offshoot projects, most famously Psychic TV, Coil, and Chris & Cosey.

It’s the latter of these offshoots, Chris & Cosey, that we’re focusing on here, but to get a sense of Throbbing Gristle’s thrilling – and occasionally difficult – aesthetic, here’s an excerpt from an early video they made, “Heathen Earth.” 

Below, a selection of our favorite tracks and video moments from the world of Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti.

Chris & Cosey – October Love Song

Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti released their first work as Chris & Cosey in 1981 for the British indie Rough Trade. It’s much more melodic – kinda like Kraftwerk but way sexier – and features Cosey on vocals. October Love Song, from their album Heartbeat, sounds like a Chromatics outtake. Their videos are some of the most innovative of the time, and make a very good case for C&C being the first vaporwave group.

Chris & Cosey – Dancing Ghosts

“We were never punk. We’re not punk,” Chris said in one early interview, of Throbbing Gristle’s place in the British scene of the time. “We were industrial. We were an industrial experimental music band.” By 1984, the pair had fully embraced groove, and laid the groundwork for the U.K. rave explosion of the late 1980s.

Chris & Cosey – Alchemy

Both in her art and in her music, Cosey has long focused on seduction, sexual power and the beauty of the female form. The track Alchemy was never released, existing only on a 500-run VHS released in the mid ‘80s, and finds a just-blurred-enough Cosey posing in the nude.

Chris & Cosey – Sweet Surprise (feat. Annie Lennox)

During the Eurythmics’ early years, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were loosely aligned with Chris and Cosey. This 1985 track features Lennox on vocals – and a killer guitar eruption halfway through.

Chris & Cosey feat. Robert Wyatt, Unmasked 

After connecting with upstart indie Nettwerk in the late 1980s, Chris & Cosey’s CTI imprint issued a killer collection – and cheap on Discogs! – featuring Coil, Monte Cazzaza, Lustmord and others, it captures a moment when hard beat, synth pop and power electronics were converging to form contemporary industrial music.

Chris Carter – Electrodub 2

What’s the first electronic dub album? Could it be Carter’s 1980 experimental tape Electrodub 2?

Chris Carter – Blissters

Carter and Cosey remain partners of nearly 50 years, and have continued to produce crucial work both together and apart. Carter’s ‘Blissters’ came out in 2018 on Mute. 

Cosey Fanni Tutti – Wired

It’s hard to tell whether this clip for Cosey’s track Wired is legit or fan-made, but it’s exquisite nonetheless. 

Interview

Here’s one-half of a revelatory interview with Chris & Cosey. 


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