Chris Carter

Chemistry Lessons, Vol. 1

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Chris Carter recorded Chemistry Lessons, Vol. 1 in the home studio he shares with longtime musical collaborator/romantic partner Cosey Fanni Tutti during the years following the death of Peter Christopherson, their Throbbing Gristle bandmate. The album's pieces were created using a fusion of modular synthesizers, digital signal processing, drum machines, field recordings, and vocal manipulation. Similar to Christopherson's later work as the Threshold Houseboys Choir, the vocals on this album are androgynous, amorphous, and alien, and it's hard to tell if they're manipulated human voices or entirely synthetic. At 25 tracks, most of which are brief and concise, the album plays like a soundtrack or a collection of library music intended for use in a future production. While much of it is eerie and suspenseful, it's just as often playful, curious, and fun. The beats are often snappy and chipper rather than heavy and imposing, and the melodies are light, cerebral, and engrossing, with tracks like "Nineteen 7" echoing early-'90s ambient techno at its most imaginative. Even the angriest and most caustic moments, such as "Post Industrial" (which almost seems like a parody of the genre Carter helped launch as part of Throbbing Gristle) and "Ars Vetus," don't seem overtly threatening. Even though most of the tracks are brief and exploratory, they place enough focus on their ideas so that they don't just sound like tentative demos. Overall, Chemistry Lessons is more in line with Carter's late-'90s solo albums or his expansive soundscapes as part of CTI than the aggressive experimentation of Throbbing Gristle or darkwave synth pop of Chris & Cosey, but it maintains a distinct character and immediacy which set it apart.

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