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 including, 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" sung by Emilie Autumn 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.