A luminary of the industrial music scene that includes Coil, Current 93 and Nurse with Wound, Diana Rogerson has been making groundbreaking music for the best part of forty years. Recording under alias Chrystal Belle Scrodd, Rogerson released her debut The Inevitable Chrystal Belle Scrodd Record in 1985 on the United Diaries’ experimental label, followed by Belle de Jour a year later. Since then, she has spent a sizeable chunk of time working with NWW’s Steve Stapleton (her partner for a time) both with the band and solo; and as one half of Fistfuck – the all-female duo famed for their noise and BDSM aesthetic. Her last solo outing was 2007’s The Lights Are on but No-One’s Home and now following a hiatus of nearly two decades, Rogerson has released Bluebottle In A Jam Jar – an intriguing musical take on the life of a trapped insect.
Replete with stunning artwork, Bluebottle In A Jam Jar weaves a complex and enthralling musical narrative that takes in industrial motifs, avant-garde ambient, sonic experimentation and vocal mischief. Opening with the dark, discordant guitar of ‘Falling Apart’, Rogerson’s highly-pitched voice and the playful interjections of Luke Lawless’ transform this track into one more akin to The Residents than her industrial music peers - as it propels towards a climactic clashing of pots and pans and the proclamation ‘Cos I’m in the milk and the milk’s in me.’ With Rogerson seemingly adopting the role of the all-significant bluebottle, the eponymously-titled second track describes its rather sad existence. A pseudo-drone is awash with whirring wings, intermittent mouth noises, undulating stuttering synth and multi-layered sounds that ebb and flow - highly evocative and rather disturbing to boot. Her ability to capture sonically these everyday sounds is quite incredible – this is virtuoso audio storytelling.
Moving swiftly onto another of God’s tiny creatures, ‘The Moth’ presents a similarly haunting depiction - this time one that emulates the swirling fans of Apocalypse Now with a sinister voice and twanging guitar, while ‘Extractor Fan’ is a noise odyssey. Tiny fragments of delicate synth mix with the background buzz of the supposed musical extractor fan creating one of the most sonically intriguing tracks on the album - Rogerson employs every trick up her musical sleeve. What then follows are two tracks that lay heavy emphasis on electronic vocal experimentation. ‘Lip Service’ is an intriguing well of loops that bring to mind the tape recordings of Alvin Lucier or Steve Reich – growing as it does in intensity, children’s voices melding with feline sounds and progressively redolent of Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Persuasion’. ‘‘Not What I had in Mind’ is conversely much more insistent – the vocal hook mirrored by an abrasive synth with accompanying dark nu-metal and distorted guitar that all builds towards a minor cacophony. Approaching the close, final track ‘Sylvia’ is a gentler finale than one might expect – a delicate(ish) ballad shrouded in jarring background guitar. bluebottle in a jar is challenging but utterly rewarding and is an album that yields something new with each listen.
-Vital Weekly October 2023