Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cabeza de Vaca P008 – Industrial techno and Factory Floor

“I shouldn't mind learning why--why the sun do shine on the just and the unjust alike, [...] but that's what books will not tell me.”

- Thomas Hardy – Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Latest Cabeza de Vaca show is up at Scanner FM  after a few delays with FTP.

A couple of extra things that are worth pointing out. Most obviously is the connection between Sasha Grey of aTelecine and Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle/Carter Tutti Void and more fame. The fact that both worked in the pornographic industry and, in Tutti’s case, also in sexually-orientated performance art (and more) as part of Genesis P. Orridge’s COUM Transmissions brings the relationship of sex with industrial and noise music back into focus.

Click here for a Cosey Fanny Tutti interview.

One of the problems of the genre has been the weakening of the symbol of bondage imagery by over use and of course a more male-dominated perspective of it. The two women in question bring the uneasy relationship with sex and gender back to a more personal level. One’s interest is one thing, but public participation (performance) is another and is much more important than elevating symbol to the echelons of art. It is a form of acting, after all, to appear in a pornographic movie which has its own symbols and extended culture, including its version of the Oscars system, of which aTelecine’s Sasha Grey has won several. In her case one hopes it does not become the only talking point in a fledgling career yet one full of releases that suggests a real dedication. Certainly she drops enough names that she might enjoy the odd piece of literature too, as well as a bit of industrial music. The appearance of aTelecine at this year’s Unsound Festival in Krakow, Poland also heralds well. Coincidentally, Sasha Grey also features as a guest vocalist on the just-released "Desert Shore/The Final Report" album by (Ex) Throbbing Gristle, minus Genesis P. Orridge, originally envisioned as a tribute to the Nico album of the same name as well as being the final TG album. Due to the untimely death of Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson during the album's preparation it has also come as something of a homage to his life and work as well. Yet returning to the point, one cannot ignore the sexual elements either since it is forever entwined in the mythology and DNA of the music and culture. Let us hope that Grey and Tutti can continue to bring new and real perspectives to it.

The sexual element of DH Lawrence’s scene from “Women in Love” (1920) is also important. The black metal train and the green English countryside are obvious elements, but it is the metal on flesh image again, as Gerald Crich unleashes his stirrups on the trembling red Arabian mare (a female horse of course), that is more open for interpretation. Some have likened the drawing of blood to loss of virginity and even rape since he uses force. It is then easy to move back to the train and see its shuddering, throbbing gait to be phallic.

“The connecting chains were grinding and squeaking as the tension varied, the mare pawed and struck away mechanically now, her terror fulfilled in her, for now the man encompassed her; her paws were blind and pathetic as she beat the air, the man closed round her, and brought her down, almost as if she were part of his own physique.”

Read the full chapter here.

The book is also famous for the scene in which Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin, played by Oliver Reed and Alan Bates, respectively, in the 1969 Ken Russell film version, wrestle nude in front of a fireplace.

Shown here from 8:20 onwards.

The homosexual image is integral whether intended or not, but the scene must also be seen as something merely animalistic, more innate, just men, after all. There are more complications, however. The movie also features a scene where Birkin, a thinly disguised Lawrence himself, shows an aristocratic audience at a grassy luncheon how to unfold a fig like a vagina. Birkin also runs naked through the long grass and woods to absorb its scent. Thus, the symbols have always been confused it seems, man and machine, terror and pleasure, nature and creation.

The fabled magician Aleister Crowley seems to have understood this contradiction deeply. The fervent optimism of Crowley’s piece generates its own intensity from within and is meant as a ritual, a transformation, at worst, theatre.

“Ever worth the passion glowing to distil a doubtful tear.
These are with me, these are of me, these approve me, these obey,

Choose me, move me, fear me, love me, master of the night and day.
These are real, these illusions: I am of them, false or frail”

- Aleister Crowley

Click here for full text of the ritual.

Interestingly the stage design includes plans for a swastika. It is somewhat ironic that the Punk’s intention to undermine the power of the swastika by wearing it, and thus wearing it down, bears similarity to the way that the bondage/fetish image has also faded in power with the same scene and its off-spring by over dissemination. But Crowley is forgiven of course as the piece “The Rite of Jupiter” from “The Rites of Eleusis” dates from 1910. It is probably only for this reason that he also uses the phrase

“Of the East and all its splendour, of the West and all its peace”

 One wonders what his attitude to industrialization really was? Certainly Lawrence is much clearer, yet both seem like they should come from similar perspectives on nature in many ways. It seems somehow fitting that Emptyset, by their mere geographical sitting in Bristol and via their recordings in the nearby countryside also invoke images of Stonehenge in nearby Wiltshire, the place where Thomas Hardy’s famous heroine Tess of the D’Urbervilles met her end, in the arms of nature and paganism.

The subtitle of the book (published first in 1891) is “A pure woman faithfully presented” and given the story, brings to mind the films of Lars von Trier. Yet the major theme is the same, the anguish at the growing segregation of man and nature.

“Beauty lay not in the thing, but in what the thing symbolized.”

- Thomas Hardy

Factory Floor also keep the sexual question alive and open in their video for “Stereotype”, their collaboration with the Pop Group’s Mark Stewart. The androgyny of the protagonists recalls the cult film Liquid Sky while the fashion is slighter more cyber and Blade Runner-punk style.

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