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Cindytalk - Hold Everything Dear

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Artist: Cindytalk

Album: Hold Everything Dear

Label: Editions Mego

Review date: Oct. 31, 2011

The last three Cindytalk records have been the best, most assured releases of Gordon Sharp’s 30-year career. Issued by Peter Rehberg’s Editions Mego, it’s hard not to hear them the triad as a culmination. Like most British men of a certain age (even in far-flung West Lothian, Scotland), Sharp first came to music via post-punk’s decree; to this day, The Freeze remain woefully underrated (especially their two sessions for John Peel). Much overrated, however, was the Peel session that led to Sharp’s association with Ivo Watts-Russell’s This Mortal Coil. “Kangaroo” notwithstanding, there was something about 4AD’s bourgeois glossolalia that just didn’t suit the fractured upbringing of this lad from Linlithgow. As I’d soon discover, that wasn’t all Gordon Sharp was not suited for.

Indeed, Sharpe had been fucking around with gender roles (mostly on stage, mostly in Europe) for quite a while. Of that, I was aware. I pegged it as some vestige of transgression leftover from his more “industrial” days. But then I heard 2009’s The Crackle of My Soul — the first in the trinity for Pita’s imprint. The tune “Transgender Warrior” said it all without saying a single word: “Gordon” would now be called “Cinder.” Up Here in the Clouds soon followed, and while there was nothing as startling or revelatory as “Transgendered Warrior,” it was a beautifully damaged record all the same. I pegged that as Cinder finally being comfortable in her own mortal coil.

By the time The Crackle of My Soul saw release, Cindytalk collaboratorMatt Kinnison had died of cancer. In the years post-“Kangaroo,” Cindytalk had dwindled steadily down to a one-man/trans-woman band. By the year 2000, on record anyways, it was really just Matt and Cinder. Hold Everything Dear, named after the John Berger book, is thus a lamentation. But make no mistake, a maudlin marche funèbre this one’s certainly not. The electronics are simply too intense, the field recordings processed too abstractly. First cut “How Soon Now...,” with its Teutonic child’s play soaked in sheets of feedback, sounds equal parts Stockhausen c. Gesang der Jüngling and Sutcliffe Jügend’s power electronics. There’s an isolation evinced in a track like “In Dust To Delight,” it’s perfect intervals slyly referencing Wagner’s opening to Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. On the other hand, Cinder’s sparse piano stylings never sounded so deliberate, as if every note was an ode to Kinnison.

Whereas before Cinder seemed content to let the samples do the talking, for the first time on the Mego discs, she physically intervenes here, tightening the contextual reins by adding that most fundamental of musical elements — rhythm. But because this is Cindytalk, you’ll not hear a quantized break or beat. Apropos for a tune titled “Floating Clouds,” forward motion actually starts from the ground up; there’s a teeming of organic life (winds and percussion, most prominently) underneath the sepulchral drone. In the interstitial pieces here, the piano often tolls pentatonic, perhaps a nod to the Japanese studio where much of this one was laid to tape. Developmentally, as with most of Cindytalk’s recent work, the happenings macro are still very much protracted. But what do you expect from an album named Hold Everything Dear?

Finding out precisely what is dear has occupied the majority of Cinder Sharpe’s life. You may think because you are … but what are you, exactly? Male, female or some third party in-between? Re-listening to the records Cinder made as Gordon, you can almost hear him searching. It’s more than a crisis of style. Having found both a label for herself and for her music now, Cinder is finally free to look for other, perhaps more philosophical answers. Yes, life sucks, and then you die. But what happens to the ones you leave behind? Well, if you’re Cinder Sharpe, you’ve come to know a thing or two about rebirth. And here, if you’re lucky enough to be in Cindytalk, ultimately, you make the greatest record of your second lease on life.

By Logan K. Young

Other Reviews of Cindytalk

Up Here in the Clouds

A Life is Everywhere

Read More

View all articles by Logan K. Young

Find out more about Editions Mego

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