Listening to “Transverse” all at a stretch may produce disturbing side effects. The most evident: uneasiness and disconnection from reality. The album barely lasts 40 minutes, but forty minutes that are so intense that they leave an indelible mark: as soon as you have finished “Transverse”, the brain asks for more. And it isn’t exactly easy listening: repetition, loops on top of each other, layers of industrial noise... We aren’t listening to songs, but rather to four stages of a single song that mutate into different versions (the titles of the songs, “V1”, “V2”, “V3” and “V4” say it all).
“Transverse” was born last year in Short Circuit, organised by Mute. That is where Carter, Tutti and Void performed and recorded these songs that are now seeing the light of day. Primal music, which speaks directly to our instinct and drives, built with distortion and dark beats. And in spite of everything, there are moments when “Transverse” is incredibly warm, even welcoming, like in “V2”, where it is easy to lose oneself and not want to find your way out.
In the project of Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti (together, Chris & Cosey) and Nik Void (Factory Floor) there are echoes of the Throbbing Gristle of “20 Jazz Funk Greats”, of that “anti-music” that can cause all sorts of reactions in the audience, and which led them to be accused of being the “scourge of civilization” by some do-gooders. “Transverse” shows that Carter and Tutti still have much to say on their own—or accompanied by disciples like Void—and that it is a mistake to think that age leads to maturity (a word that in music is often a synonym for “boredom”). The proof is in these absolutely radical, nihilistic, innovative, disturbing 40 minutes. To listen to “Transverse” is to set out on a hallucinatory trip that you know when you start, but not when you’ll finish, because it’s almost impossible not to listen to the album on repeat. “Transverse” isn’t music, it’s something more.