Mute MONTE 1 CD [UK] (1992) Total Running Time: 78 min 12 sec
1. Psychiatric Review (2:09) 2. To Mom on Mother's Day (3:26) 3. Candy Man (2:32) 4. Rabid Rats (Vietnam) (2:08) 5. Distress (2:20) 6. Mary Bell (2:21) 7. Kick that Habit Man (2:04) 8. First/Last (5:13) 9. Tiny Tears (1:38) 10. Stairway to Hell (4:49) 11. Sex is no Emergency (2:57) 12. A Snitch is a Snitch (8:59) 13. Six Eyes From Hell (4:45) 14. Liars (Feed those Christians to the Lions) (5:25) 15. A is for Atom (6:09) 16. If Thoughts Could Kill (4:45) 17. Mark of the Devil (6:16) 18. Climax (8:00)
This aptly-titled compilation from Mute's Grey Area subsidiary catalogues the career of the infamous Monte Cazazza, cultural terrorist, colleague and contemporary of the Throbbing Gristle crowd and all-round generally weird person.
The CD starts off with a spoken psychiatric review by Bart Alberti M.D. in which he concludes that Monte is, to summarise his lengthy evaluation, the sort of person who should be kept in a rubber room and well away from your children lest he eat them. Having been through the CD a few times, I can't really find any evidence of this, and have to conclude that the "psychiatric review" is fabricated for disinformation purposes. Sure, Monte has a pretty grisly sense of humour and a certain preoccupation with the occult and matters sexual, but he generally seems to approach these more in an interested, investigative sense than an obsessive one. Or maybe I should be locked up too?
He does seem to have been at his, erm, oddest back in the late seventies when he was associated with the Industrial label and Throbbing Gristle. The material from this period ranges from "To Mom On Mother's Day", with Cazazza mumbling unintelligibly over (well, "under" would be more accurate to be quite honest) a Throbbing Gristle noisescape, to "Candy Man" with Monte simultaneously narrating three threads documenting the deeds of a serial killer over more TG electronics. Other goodies include a spoken word (over synths) piece on the use of rabid rats in Vietnam, the toy piano and female sing-song backing vocals of "Mary Bell" and, oh, lots of other things, many of them quite odd. The only sections that make you wonder if perhaps Dr Alberti had a point are "Distress" which is...well, distressing in places and "Tiny Tears" which demonstrates a rather gory sense of humour. As for the others - well, all Monte's doing in "Rabid Rats" and "Candy Man" is documenting real-life. Would committing Mr Cazazza for this be a case of shooting the messenger?
Later material gets rather more conventional. "Stairway To Hell" and "Sex Is No Emergency" are pleasant enough musically, with only Monte's lyrics taking them in odd directions. Hell, "Sex Is No Emergency" even features a Casio VL-Tone, what more could you want? "A Snitch Is The Snitch" is an extended musing on principles and honour (or the lack thereof) amongst both criminals and the police. Interesting, but it goes on way too long.
Things get confused from here onwards since what's listed on the leaflet and what's on the CD differ in their order. The track listing given at the top of this review reflects the actual ordering on the disc. The annoying thing is that the tracks should have been in the order that placed all the Atom Smashers and Love Force tracks together, rather than mixing them up.
Monte definitely seems to have mellowed over the years or at least to have directed his more extreme impulses into other media such as film. While "A is for Atom" is percussive dancy synth industrial (in the more contemporary sense of the word), "If Thoughts Could Kill" is melodic stuff, almost like conventional pop/rock. For some reason (probably my untutored European ears) his speak-sung/rapped lyrics here make him sound vaguely like Fred Schneider of the B-52s. "Mark Of The Devil" is in a similar vein and liberally sprinkled with appropriate samples, although the guttural demonic backing vox aren't exactly top 40 fare. Perhaps too light to be classified as industrial in the modern sense, it's still good stuff.
The most recent material by the Love Force is to an equally high standard, although rather less cerebral lyrically. "Six Eyes From Hell" features some nice violin work and a purposeful, loping beat. "Liars" is decent dance industrial with female vocals and some rather neat lion noises. The one predictable piece is "Climax". You know before you even play it that, yep, it's time for the obligatory industrial sex-noises song. A slow paced dance track with Michelle Handelman on orgasmic moans and vocals, Monte on keyboards and both Monte and Elden M on sampling (the expected mix of sex-related samples). Unexceptional, but at least it sounds like Michelle enjoyed herself (well, enjoyed pretending to enjoy herself anyway).
I personally really like this disc, much more than I thought I would. There's stuff here to appeal to fans of both "old" and "new" industrial. Those who like both forms are doubly lucky. Nothing represents the cream of either genre, but it's still well worth a listen.
Erland Rating: +2
Al Crawford / email@example.com