Core: A Conspiracy International Project

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There are those who look at this collection as a Chris & Cosey release. After all, the tweaky two are involved with every track, in each case collaborating with someone whose work they respect a great deal. Right off the bat -- either the flying critter or wooden device for smacking balls would be appropriate in this case -- this means the credits for the seven tracks read like some kind of industrial who's who: Coil, Boyd Rice, Monte Cazazza, John Duncan, and so forth. The choice of collaborators more importantly shows that Chris & Cosey were big fans of many of the important avant-garde artists of the '80s, were open-minded about the many aesthetic options available, and were versatile enough to make a contribution in a variety of contexts. A sheer example of this, perhaps a bit too much of a cliff-hanger for some, would be the second side, beginning with a track entitled "Unmasked." Here the guest is Robert Wyatt, whose pretty singing style is needless to say made the centerpiece of a Chris & Cosey speciality, the light doodle-doo pop ditty. Nothing happens in the course of this musical unmasking that would alter in even the slightest way any negative opinions held about this aspect of Chris & Cosey's discography, not even the fact that the next track is "Over Abyss," a collaboration with Lustmord that would go well with one of those performances where slabs of raw meat are hung all around the stage.

Scholars compiling a complete list of albums where a section of the text emphasizes the use of headphones for listening can add one more, Core. Regardless of whether this tip is considered pretentious in general, it is good advice in the case where a track sounds like it was recorded inside an active ringer washer -- that must be Boyd Rice. The track from which the collection gets its title will be too much for a set of headphones, though, not to mention the set of ears tucked into it. Here everybody who has played on the album goes at it at once, the result surprisingly tame although thick. It sounds something like an attempt at exotica in which nobody used any space and to which a Hollywood producer was brought in to add a string section after the fact. The first side can be considered more subtle and tame. Coil's "Feeder" unwinds slowly, lavishly, not the usual approach for a compilation track. "Future Shock," maybe a reaction to the trendy Alvin Toffler book of the same name, features Monte Cazazza, one of the few performers from this scene who has actually managed to get scandalized reactions from his fellow far-out performance artists. Here he does disco.

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