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MUSIC CHRIS & COSEY : Stage Frights : The bizarre British band, which is known for decibels and dissonance, will perform in Isla Vista on Saturday.

July 25, 1991|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Chris & Cosey, industrial-strength weirdos out of Norfolk, England, are strange enough to scare mommy and daddy into writing you out of the will. And the cat will probably run away too.

So in the interests of greed and convenience, don't read this until the folks are at work. Chris & Cosey, once 50% of Throbbing Gristle, will be at the Anaconda Theatre in Isla Vista on Saturday night.

Chris Carter is a computer whiz who runs myriad machines that make an enormous racket. Some sound like a multi-car pileup in the living room; others resemble a fervent pagan religious ritual.

Then there are a lot of bizarre videos behind Cosey Fanni Tutti, the distaff half of the duo. She sort of sings, or groans or screams, which is tamer than in the old days when she was a stripper who liked to slice herself with razor blades and licked vomit off the floor. Yup, love hurts, and J. Geils was right, sometimes it stinks too.

If all of this sounds like the soundtrack for the Harlan Ellison witticism "Love Ain't Nothin' But Sex Misspelled," it probably is. The band seems obsessed with love, sex and violence (and more sex) in no particular order. When Cosey sings, whispers, hisses or groans words such as ecstasy , you don't know whether to make an insurance payment and run, or smile like Burt Lancaster hearing the "yes" he's been dreaming of.

"I think some of our music is intelligent dance music, but we're more than just a beat," Chris said in a recent phone interview from England. "We're very difficult to categorize. Some of our lyrics can be quite ambiguous, I suppose."

This promises to be a night of family entertainment, particularly for the Borgia or Manson families. But even the little weirdos in black--the ones with faces whiter than the good part of a Twinkie, who look as though the Predator just asked them to dance--need a spokesperson.

"At one time with Throbbing Gristle, there was sort of a uniform kind of fan that came to our shows, those dissatisfied with most music and they sort of dressed the same," Chris said.

"Now, we attract some fans nearer to our age, approaching 40, plus we get a lot of young kids. They usually start off just standing and staring a bit, then they dance a bit. We try to seduce people into entering our own little world. We don't want to alienate anyone. We would like people to go away thinking."

It has been more than a decade and a dozen albums since Chris & Cosey left Throbbing Gristle, the industrial-rock band they had founded. In fact, Chris & Cosey are credited or blamed for inventing industrial music, a genre in which dissonance and decibels are king and queen and Sting covers don't exist.

"At that time, before punk, there was no outlet for alternative music, so we were sort of going against the big companies such as EMI and CBS," Chris said. "And at that time, everything was very depressing and hopeless in England, sort of like 'A Clockwork Orange.' So we started our own company. We no longer have the company and things seem to be getting to be the same way again."

With such an extensive musical resume, the band could go on and on, but it probably won't. Expect some numbers off the band's new album, "Pagan Tango." Also expect to wait awhile if you miss this show--the band comes around only slightly more often than Halley's comet.

"We'll probably play about a dozen songs; it'll be quite a long set with no breaks, perhaps an hour and a half," Chris said.

"We've been to America three or four times--we tour every two years and release an album every 18 months. We don't tour in England at all--just Europe and America. We finished our European tour last month and our American tour will last about three weeks. Then we'll take a few years off."

Chris & Cosey left the rat race of London for the quiet of rural Norfolk. They have their own studio where they create their music and send the record company the finished product. Translation: total creative control.

Besides Chris & Cosey, the duo is involved in another project called Creative Technology Institute. They aren't sitting around watching "Leave It to Beaver" reruns.

"We don't really go out much anymore, but it's a bit of an exaggeration that we're hermits," Chris said. "I suppose our approach to our music is very unusual. We take as long as we want to, then we just send the record company a tape. We'll be starting a new Chris & Cosey album soon; we have lots of new ideas. We're going to try to finish it by the end of the year and beat our 18-month timetable.

"Creative Technology Institute is a project that involves other people. The music is a bit more serious, less mainstream and generally more difficult."

So what do they do for fun?

"You don't want to know," Chris said.

* WHERE AND WHEN

Chris & Cosey, Saturday at 8 p.m.; the Anaconda Theatre, 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, 965-3112; $15.

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