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Music Review: Strings of Consciousness – From Beyond Love

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Strings of Consciousness are the outstanding musical duo Hervé Vincenti and Philippe Petit, plus a revolving cast of others. They have managed to bring in some stellar guest stars for their latest release, From Beyond Love. Among those who appear on the record are Julie Christmas (Made Out of Babies), Andria Degens (Pantaleimon/Current 93), Graham Lewis (Wire), Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle), and a remarkable duet featuring Lydia Lunch and Oxbow’s Eugene Robinson. From Beyond Love is the second installment of Strings of Consciousness’ trilogy of records featuring guest vocalists. It is also a pretty incredible collection of songs in its own right.

As the origins of the various vocalists testify, the musical directions of the group are very eclectic. Each of the five tracks have their own distinct sound and feel, and the use of different vocalists on each amplifies this. They are almost a new band on each cut, although there are certain trademarks which connect the whole thing together.

The title alone of opening track “The Drone From Beyond Love” was enough to give me pause. The amplified cello of Alison Chesley from Helen Money is a powerful force in the spooky, yet brilliant introduction. The portions where the title is delivered as almost a chant and the guitar solos are also outstanding elements to this intriguing piece of music.

As mentioned, there are many directions that the musical collective pursue, but it is when Andy Diagram (Spaceheads / Pere Ubu) adds his trumpet which really made me stand up and take notice. This first happened on track two, “Sleepwalker.” Imagine if you will, Miles Davis taking a trip to Manchester back in 1980 to record for Factory Records. The combination of his signature sound with the brilliant post-punk of Joy Division or Crispy Ambulance are what this cut brings to mind for me. Pretty amazing stuff.

Both “Bugged” and “Finzione” are very atmospheric, but in different ways. Besides another appearance from Andy Diagram‘s trumpet, “Bugged” has a strangely appropriate early-80’s effect. It is almost as if The Fixx’s nuclear-fear anthem “Saved By Zero” has been covered in the post-apocalyptic world.

The fifth and final piece will undoubtedly get the most attention. “Hurt Is Where The Home Is” (19:19) features the fearsome duet between Lydia Lunch and Eugene Robinson previously mentioned. It plays out as an extended domestic dispute over some of the most disconcerting tones one could think of. But at nearly 20-minutes, that is certainly not all there is going here. In fact, “Hurt Is Where the Home Is” is structured much like a mini-symphony, with multiple parts.

After about seven-minutes of horror, with Lydia bitching and Eugene moaning, a beat comes in, slowly changing the tenor. When the guitar comes along at around the 13-minute mark, the dominance of it is jarring – while Eugene’s voice has turned into a scream. During the long fade from this climactic moment, Andy Diagram’s trumpet is again featured. By the end, one is well and truly worn out, and happily so.

From Beyond Love is a wildly experimental album, and I mean that in the most complimentary fashion. This musical collective has made it work in many different ways, which is a difficult thing to pull off. The recording is available in both CD and LP formats, from the great Staubgold label. This is one which may be easiest to find by the clicking over to the Forced Exposure site, which is the exclusive North American distributor of the set.

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