Attrition
Something Stirs
All mine enemys whispers - The story of Mary ann Cotton
Track List

What shall is sing?
The burial club
The Reinsch test
The Trial
At the gates of Eternity
Heaven is my home


Track List
Personnel
Recording
Artwork
Issues

reviews

Mary Ann Cotton was born October 1832 in County Durham , Northern England .
Possibly the greatest female mass murderer Britain has ever known, she left a trail of death throughout her life, killing between 16 to 21 of her children and former husbands over many years by arsenic poisoning .
She was eventually arrested, tried and hanged in Durham Jail on the 24th March 1873.
The Police officer that arrested Mary Ann Cotton was a Sergeant Tom McCutcheon.
Coincidentally, his daughter, Louisa McCutcheon, had worked for a while for Mary as a seamstress..
On departing for Durham jail Mary gave Louisa her prized sewing box as the only way she could now pay her for her work…
The sewing box was kept in Louisa's family and passed down through the generations.
Rather uneasily considering what it represented…
My own father met a by then very old Louisa when he was a young child in the 1940's
- He recently recounted this story and passed on the box on to me.
Louisa McCutcheon was my great great great aunt….

Martin Bowes. 2007

Attrition - All mine enemys whispers - review from Key 64

There are tones and ranges of sound that can channel emotional response directly into one's consciousness... Rhythmic entrainment and psychoacoustics are capable of eliciting specific emotional responses and constructing narrative experience.  Few musicians are able to construct tracks in such a way as to accomplish this feat successfully, and fewer still are able to sustain such an experience across an entire album. 

Attrition is certainly one of those few..  this is easily the most unsettling album I've heard in years, as deeply disturbing as anything I've come across in any piece of media.  The album's six tracks are spaces against which the mind unfolds the full tale of Mary Ann Cotton, a soundtrack conjuring her essence.  If any sequence of music has a chance of evoking a specific entity, this is the one.
It begins with an evokation, the children's rhyme that opens the very first track

"Mary Ann Cotton, She's dead and she's rotten
She lies in her bed, With her eyes wide open
Sing, sing, oh, what can I sing,
Mary Ann Cotton is tied up with string
Where, where?  Up in the air
Sellin' black puddens a penny a pair."

Legend has it that When the walls are thin between the world of the living and the dead on Halloween, reciting this rhyme over her grave was enough to call the spirits of those she'd killed to audible experience.  Whispers of long dead children are heard, bemoaning their painful deaths at her hands.

In those days, arsenic was often used for murder but few were as prolific, or as reviled, as Britain's Mass Murderess Mary Ann Cotton by the time she was publicly executed.  (One particularly interesting bit of trivia, newspapers had deliberately coarsened Mary Ann's features in what is likely the earliest incidents of airbrushing.)

At first listen this may seem like a soundtrack to a horror film, but this album is much more intentional and holds up to repeated listening in ways a soundtrack never could, subservient as they generally are to the director's vision--rather, this is a evocation of the essence of Mary Ann Cotton's story, linked by way of the sewing box she once held in her hand.

Martin Bowes great great great aunt Louisa McCutheon, a seamstress, recieved as payment from Mary Ann Cotton a sewing box, prior to her incarceration and subsequent public execution in March of 1873.  This same sewing box can now be heard on track five, 'played' by Martin Bowes to provide texture to one of the most moving tracks on the cd.

The first track, "What shall i sing?" is available for download via Attrition's website , and provides a stunning introduction to this piece of work, but my favorite track is easily the fifth.  A chilling piece entitled "The Gates of Eternity" split into two sections, i. A short Drop and ii. Rock of Ages , an incredible ten and a half minute track that sumons Cotton's public execution to the mind's eye while conjuring wind and ghosts through Bowes' soundscaping and Erica Mulkey's complex cello arrangement of Mary Ann Cotton's self-professed favorite hymnal.   Emilie Autumn's vocals on ii.Rock of Ages manage to be both purifying and lost, a melodic anchor that fleshes out the mental construct the entire album creates.

The album comes to a close with the sixth track, "Heaven is my home or the other side of Jordan..." an auditory experience of the veils of space and time ripping apart to reveal some glorious afterlife and the deep fabric of souls wailing in harmonics outside of human hearing.  This is an album you feel as much as hear, an album of dark ambient neoclassical compositions constructed both acoustically and electronically by a master of the craft.

Attrition - All mine enemys whispers - review from Fearnet :

My absolute favorite – and possibly one of the best dark ambient releases in recent years – comes from one of the leading names in that genre, the UK experimental outfit Attrition, alias Martin Bowes. I came upon this talented artist a few years ago – fairly late in the game, considering Attrition has been around since the early '80s – and I was instantly hooked by Bowes' solitary devotion to creating moods and atmospheres instead of catchy melodies. Back when the term “industrial music” was less mainstream and applied mainly to avant-garde acts like Throbbing Gristle, Coil and Einsturzende Neubaten, Attrition were building a revolutionary style of their own, and decades later Bowes hasn't strayed from that goal with the latest Attrition release All Mine Enemys Whispers – one of the band's finest achievements in a long and storied career.

Whispers weaves the horrific tale of Mary Ann Cotton, one of England's most notorious serial killers. Responsible for the deaths (by poisoning) of up to 21 people – most of whom were her own children – Cotton would be perfect subject matter for a horrifying Halloween concept album. But instead of taking the more overtly gruesome route, Bowes opts for a sublime ambiance of growing doom to pull you headlong into the very thoughts of this human monster... even daring to make you sympathize with her before dragging you bodily to the depths of the underworld, surrounded by the whispering chants of her many victims.

As it turns out, Cotton is more than a mere macabre curiosity as far as this artist is concerned: the project was born out of Bowes' own ancestral link to Cotton's killing spree. Not only is he a distant relative of the constable who arrested Cotton in 1872, but Bowes recently came into possession of Cotton's sewing box, which the convicted murderer gave to the officer's daughter (Bowes' great great great aunt) just before her imprisonment. A photo of the box is included in the CD liner notes, and the sound of the box being struck can be heard on the track “Gates of Eternity.”

Interwoven with Bowes' elaborate synth programming and sound effects – which range from deep drones and hums to open, airy washes and some jarringly distorted glitch-loops – are eerie contributions from variety of recognizable names in the Gothic and dark ambient/industrial genres: Emilie Autumn takes up her signature violin as well as providing one of the few conventional lyric passages (a creepy rendition of “Rock of Ages”) on “Gates of Eternity,” while Rasputina's Erica Mulkey joins on cello, Ned Kirby of Stromkern plays piano and Laurie Reade of Pigface and High Blue Star offers backing vocals. Even Bowes' children participate with a bone-chilling rendition of a Victorian children's rhyme (“Mary Ann Cotton... She's dead and she's rotten”) on opening track “What Shall I Sing?” The expanded canvas results in a more complex, focused sound than I expected, with motifs that speak to an abstract storytelling style – it all feels like the score to a sublime horror film that exists only in your mind.

Avoiding all of the pretensions that can often accompany a concept album, Whispers is one of the most unique musical realizations I've heard in a years. A completely immersive work of art, it deserves to be experienced in a darkened room, awash in your choice of incense. To top off the experience, there's even a set of collectible stickers styled after vintage poison vial labels, that you can use to keep your roommate from borrowing your favorite cologne. -Gregory S. Burkart

Attrition: All Mine Enemys Whispers. The Story of Mary Ann Cotton
Review from Judas Kiss magazine. UK


Every release has a concept, or at least some sort of nucleus of an idea behind its conception, and as the title suggests, this is very much the case with this, the latest offering from the UK based dark industrial/electronica group Attrition. Telling the story of Mary Ann Cotton, a British serial killer who left a trail of at least twenty murders (some her own children, others were partners) by poisoning with arsenic, behind her. She was arrested and hanged in 1873. ‘All Mine Enemys Whispers' has a brilliant concept behind it, and thankfully Martin Bowes, the main driving force behind Attrition since its birth in 1982, does a hugely impressive job in transferring the murderously haunting qualities of the story into a wonderfully intense dark ambient album.

Over recent years, Attrition have become renowned for their unusual coupling of electro beats, neo-classical music arrangements and operatic female and deep male vocals, all held together by a huge swathe of darkened atmosphere. Yet just below the surface, Attrition has always strived to be more diverse than this, with a number of their releases, including their 1982 ‘Death House' release, focusing on the more experimental recesses of dark ambient compositions and captivatingly dark soundtracks, which is pretty much where we find ourselves now.

With a strong backbone of dense layers of dark ambient soundscapes and washes of electronic drones, a suitably dark and ominous atmosphere is produced and maintained throughout the album. This is built upon with lush neo-classical string arrangements, which add a depth and tantalisingly seductive and dreamily eerie edge to the proceedings, and are joined by a lone piano piece and the slow tones of a saxophone. The dark atmosphere created by this amalgamation of traditional instruments and electronically produced soundscapes is fantastically compelling, and has captivating qualities that share a great similarity to the attributes of a musical score. However Attrition are not content with stopping there. Oh no. They want this musical interpretation of Mary Ann Cotton's story to be even more atmospheric and chilling, which they achieve by adding vocals in a variety of different styles, ranging from barely audible whispers of incidental vocals to children's rhymes to the beautifully seductive charms of Emilie Autumn's vocals on ‘Rock of Ages'. The use of occasional vocals on a predominantly instrumental album is executed fantastically well, and as such just adds another dimension to the drifting soundscapes that swirl beneath them, without becoming overpowering or losing the atmosphere that the music alone creates.

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Attrition, and I feel that Martin has, over the years, delivered a wide range of musical styles through his music spanning a plethora of genres and tastes, yet still, for whatever reason, the band don't quite get the recognition in the post-industrial genre that they really deserve. I have a feeling, though, that that is likely to change finally, thanks to this release, as it offers a grand set of sombre, unilluminated soundscapes that fit more than comfortably alongside the more revered names within the genre. And the addition of stirringly alluring neo-classical arrangements may well help give them that extra edge over their contemporaries.

The album is housed in an impressively designed digipack and accompanied by a six-page inset that tells the story of Mary Ann Cotton, and how this infamous mass murder can be linked to Attrition's Martin Bowes through his ancestor, police sergeant Tom McCutcheon. Also included in the first pressing are a number of stickers reproducing the labels from the arsenic bottles that Mary Ann would have used.

There's a huge catalogue of material out there that Attrition have produced over the years, with this album ranking near the top of the pile. It delivers the perfect exploration point for those who have yet to discover Attrition's work, and for those already familiar with it, it delivers a dark, surreal exploration of sounds and aural textures from a band that never fails to impress.


Attrition: All Mine Enemys Whispers. The Story of Mary Ann Cotton
Review from Darktwincities.com, USA

Mary Ann Cotton isn't well known in the States the way other serial murderers are but considering she left approximately twenty bodies in her wake, many of them children, the tale makes for one of brutal fascination.

After a troubled childhood in Northeast England, Mary Ann got a taste for wealth when her Mother remarried to a man considerably more well-off than her Father, who had perished by falling down a large mine shaft. In her late teens she began to study as a dressmaker and met the man who would become her first husband. They had nine children together, most of whom died from gastric fever, a common ailment at that time. Her husband happened to die from a similar ailment, leaving her to collect his insurance money. A second husband also died suddenly. She was hired as a housekeeper by a man whose wife suddenly fell ill and died. He took comfort in Mary Ann's advances and they were married, but suffered great tragedy as their children died off, one by one, from gastric fever. Distraught and growing distrustful of Mary Ann and her inquiries into his insurance plans, he threw her out.

Mary Ann's Mother also died of a mysterious stomach ailment around this time. Another husband, another lover and more children fell victim to Mary Ann's scheming. A Parish official became suspicious of all the deaths around this woman and persisted in his attempts for answers. It was discovered that the "stomach ailment" which had claimed one of Cotton's children was, in fact, arsenic poisoning. Mary Ann Cotton was tried for this and other murders and hanged on March 24th, 1873.

Martin Bowes, mastermind behind the legendary, twenty-eight year old electronic act Attrition became somewhat bedeviled with this story for an interesting reason. The daughter of the arresting officer in the Cotton case, Louisa, had worked for Mary Ann as a seamstress. When the murderess was sent to jail she gave Louisa her prized sewing box as a means of payment. It was an item which was passed down through the family and ultimately found its way into the hands of Bowes after having been in his family's attic for many years.

Bowes has always displayed a curious ear for art over traditional song structure and Attrition has never been an act known to play things safe in an effort to achieve mainstream acceptance. Back in the early Eighties there were no clubs that catered to fans of Industrial music. Booking a show and building an audience came slowly, but now the name Attrition is universally lauded and accepted as an innovator, a dark and creative force unparalleled by modern musicians. Bowes' standards are very high and he handpicked some fine collaborators for this project, among them Stromkern's Ned Kirby, Erica Mulkey of Unwoman and Rasputina, Laurie Reade of High Blue Star and Pigface as well as other capable contributors. Limiting the pressing of this release to 1000 and providing, along with the artwork in the digipak, a set of 4 reproduction stickers of original Victorian poison bottle labels, this is a work for the earnest collector and the sort of release that will be mentioned for many years to come.

The intonations of children flit through a milky darkness where piano suddenly breaks out of nowhere and a static hum permeates a weighted atmosphere, serving as the only rhythm in this formless void. Welcome to the mid 19th Century and the spirits that haunt the memory of a remorseless killer, a destroyer of lives. Things take an especially dark turn with "The Reinsch Test" where the sounds grow rather expansive and considerably more eerie with a looping bass burnout and a lot of ambient metallic noises.

Accusations begin to fly about a minute into "The Trial," but not in a cohesive aspect. These are ghostly, angry and pained whispers floating in a discorporate manner above an ominous, airy ambiance. It's almost revolutionary in its severe, unsettlingly framed stasis. Then the piano draws forward, highlighting the horrific drama clawing at the senses of the decent and upright while cello underscores the dread.

"The Gates Of Eternity" don't offer any sort of salvation or provide a tidy ending to the story with cavernous, windswept sentiments and a frigid version of "Rock Of Ages" with violin accompaniment. "Heaven Is My Home" isn't exactly a glimpse into the promised land, but does embrace a sort of spiritual half-light which seems to call into question any kind of universal justice or lack thereof. Label it dark ambient, experimental electro, mood piece or simply uneasy listening , All Mine Enemys Whispers is a grippingly unsettling work of piercing art that will beckon you for an interpretation. From the soul of one haunted man to the place you call home, pull down the shades, dim the lights and see if you can relive the nightmare of Mary Ann Cotton without being deeply challenged and affected.


Attrition: All Mine Enemys Whispers. The Story of Mary Ann Cotton
Review from REGEN magazine, USA

As subtly chilling a thing as you'll ever hear, this excursion into Victorian horror sets the story of mass murderer Mary Ann Cotton to ambient drones and creaking violins.

Attrition's newest release is an ambient interpretation of the story of Mary Ann Cotton, a notorious mass murderer who poisoned over a dozen of her own children and former husbands and was executed in 1873.
That's creepy enough, but adding to the visceral chill of the album is that it features actual recordings of Cotton's sewing box, originally given to a seamstress named Louisa McCutcheon, who was coincidentally the daughter of Tom McCutcheon, the police sergeant that arrested Cotton for her murders.
Louisa was also an ancestor of Attrition's own Martin Bowes, so there's a deeper involvement than you'd usually expect from this type of recording that no doubt contributes to its eeriness.
Continuing the family connection, Bowes' children contribute to opening track "What Shall I Sing?" with a Victorian children's rhyme that wavers over nervous minor-key pianos (played by guest musician Ned Kirby of Stromkern).
"The Burial Club" is even more unsettling, with shuffling sounds and anxiously scraped strings interrupting the relative peace of bass-heavy organ drones, while "The Trial" contributes a sense of urgent panic with its manipulated layers of frightened whispering and groaning strings (performed here by former Rasputina cellist Erica Mulkey).
"The Gates of Eternity" starts off as an ambient soundscape marked by echoing footsteps and the jittery violin of special guest Emilie Autumn, but ends with one of the album's most haunting moments: a sorrowful rendition of the hymn "Rock of Ages," also performed by Autumn, that's so beautiful it conjures up a momentary sense of pity for the condemned killer.
"Heaven is My Home" ends things on a suitably somber note with distant choirs.
Recorded on Oct. 31, 2006, this is no ordinary Halloween album; Mary Ann Cotton's story, augmented by the real-life connections between the album's composer and the killer herself, will do a much better job keeping you up at night than any slasher film killer or long-haired Japanese ghost child.
If you're brave, you can listen to All Mine Enemys Whispers in the dark, but you might want to pull the covers over your head just to be on the safe side.

By: Matthew Johnson

Attrition: All Mine Enemys Whispers. The Story of Mary Ann Cotton
Review from Musictap.net, USA

The latest album from Martin Bowes' Attrition is a conceptual work that is a brilliant mix of sound, instruments, and a poisonous draught of insanity.  Based on the legend of Mary Ann Cotton, who is perhaps Britain's most prolific female serial killer, All Mine Enemys Whispers explores the darkness that led Mary Ann Cotton to systematically slaughter around 21 of her own children, lovers, and former husbands over a series of years by administration of various poisons.  A telling of this story from an ambient perspective would be quite an undertaking for any musician but not so for Martin Bowes, whose previous works is no stranger to blended music and disturbances of the psyche.

In the album's six imaginative compositions, there is a thread of an unraveling mind, conjuring evil intentions and carrying them out to grisly results.  With voices, sound effects, a classical element (a hallmark of Attrition), and violin, even the use of strings to create the sound of a fly in “What Shall I Sing?,” this album is as eerie as music can possibly get.

All Mine Enemys Whispers may be Martin Bowes' masterpiece.  It also serves to show that the musical importance of Attrition is still at full strength, even after nearly 30 years.

Attrition: All Mine Enemys Whispers. The Story of Mary Ann Cotton
Review by Pete Chambers: from The Coventry Evening Telegraph. UK

For 28 years Martin Bowes (for Attrition is Martin and vice versa), has been producing thought-provoking music, that neither conforms to the norm (whatever that is), nor pretends to be something it's not.
Martin is an artist first and a musician second. His compositions, whatever genre you want to box them in to, have been interesting at the very least and spectacular at their best.

Today, sees the release of the lavishly-packaged CD All Mine Enemy's Whispers. It tells the tale of the infamous Mary Ann Cotton (1832-1873), possibly the most notorious female mass murderer of all time.
I often use the word 'haunting' to describe the musical soundscape Attrition create. This time that description is right on the button.

This latest CD is, in my humble opinion, his finest work, and I mean work. This is not merely another great musical offering, this is stellar stuff, and like any great composer Martin tells the story perfectly with sound.
It becomes a soundtrack to your own imagination, as it rumbles its macabre way through the half-light of a gothic Victorian nightmare.
Spirit violins from seemingly nowhere fade into the chilly darkness of silence as they strive to compose their grisly tunes.

Don't expect pop or even rock tunes here, this is far more akin to the classical music genre. It's superb, and I'm proud that something as imaginative as this can come out of Coventry.

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