“Nettwerk Sound Sampler Volume Two: A Food For Thought” Compilation (1986)

I’m currently reading Cosey Fanni Tutti’s recently released autobiography Art Sex Music. Tutti is perhaps best known to music fans as one of the founding members of industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle alongside her partner/lover/collaborator Genesis P-Orridge. She has also earned a well-deserved reputation as a artist, doing performance pieces with P-Orridge and others as part of their COUM project as well as being a very early participant in the mail art scene and doing some highly controversial solo work. While there was a certain amount of “openness” to Tutti and P-Orridge’s relationship, eventually the two parted ways as romantic partners as Tutti developed a deepening relationship with bandmate Chris Carter, one that eventually led to them starting a family and collaborating musically as a duo and allowing her even more freedom to explore other forms of art.

So what does all this have to do with the 1988 comp Nettwerk Sound Sampler Volume Two? Well, on Saturday I was doing some digging into the various Carter/Tutti projects, the most notable of which is Chris & Cosey. And that afternoon I stopped by Silver Platters to pick up the new Purple Rain re-release and while I was there I came across this comp… which features a song by Chris & Cosey. I pretty much had to buy it at that point. It was like it was meant to be.

Given that two of the artists on this comp are Chris & Cosey and Skinny Puppy, I expected the overall feel to be on the electro-industrial side. So imagine my surprise when it opened with a quiet acoustic singer-songwriter type song from a young Sarah McLachlan. Yes, that Sarah McLachlan. Huh. Didn’t see that coming. Fortunately things then take a weirder turn with the quasi-new-wav-ish “Greater Reward” by Severed Heads, which has a very Pet Shop Boys feel to it. But… then we get some folk rock by Lava Hay. WTF was Nettwerk’s strategy? These are definitely not the kinds of artists you’d expect to hear together on the same small indie label. The side closes out with Moev’s “Open Mind”, an industrial-lite kind of number that’s pretty decent.

The B side is more electronic, with all four artists contributing somewhat darker electro-pop tunes. Chris & Cosey’s “Trust” has a more early 1980s feel to it, along the lines of what was coming out of Germany at the time – cold synths, deep and almost mysterious sounding vocals, but delivered with a feeling of honesty that is actually a bit unsettling. Skinny Puppy close the comp out with “Addiction (Dog House Mix)”, unquestionably the most industrial thing here and arguably the best song of the bunch.