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Label & Cat.Number: Mute Records TGCD14
Release Year: 2004
Note: kind of "best of" with 14 tracks from the bands 4 proper albums, plus 3 rare / live tracks; the ideal introduction to TG with their most well known "hits" on one album, feat. nice cover artwork by Sleazy
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €12.00
More Info"One of the most intelligently transgressive agitprop noise troupes ever to decimate homemade synthesizers and mundane rock 'n' roll tropes, Throbbing Gristle's distinct factory-fuck sounds are as abrasively fresh today as when the quartet initiated its mission in 1975. Discontent with ho-hum frameworks and facile reactionary accouterments, Throbbing Gristle set out to subvert standard musical performance, and in the process, lived up to their infamous parliamentary epithet of "wreckers of civilization." In the booklet accompanying the 2002 reissue of the band's 1976-1980 live opus TG24, a 24xCD box set reissuing 1979's 24 Hours (originally available on cassette only), Genesis P-Orridge states that where punk sought "to change the nature of rock 'n' roll," he and his cohorts were all about mutating and re-inscribing the very nature of music itself.
Whether or not they succeeded is the stuff of music-geek webboards, but either way, Throbbing Gristle possess one of rock history's more intriguing back stories. In 1969, P-Orridge and then partner Cosey Fanni Tutti formed the confrontational performance crew Coum Transmissions, inspired by the similar, earlier troupes Fluxus and Happenings. Graphic designer Peter Christopherson saw the duo's Couming of Age exhibition at South London's Oval House Theatre in 1974 and asked if he could document the event with some photos. A kindred spirit, he was quickly nicknamed "Sleazy" by his Coum compatriots and joined the group the following year for their Couming of Youth performance in Amsterdam. The final TG catalyst was Waveforms mastermind Chris Carter, a techie who built his own synthesizers and keyboards. He attended one of the band's jam sessions, and then signed on.
Prostitution, a Coum exhibition at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts in October 1976, officially brought them into the general consciousness. This Coum retrospective consisted of nude photos of Fanni Tutti and objects from Coum performances (used tampons and the like). These materials, coupled with a set by L.S.D. (later Generation X) and Throbbing Gristle's first official (and very bloody) set, caused outrage in Parliament and amongst the general populous.
A full-fledged musical juggernaut, Throbbing Gristle went on to start its own label, Industrial Records, in 1977. Using the slogan, "Industrial Music for Industrial People," they released recordings by themselves, William S. Burroughs, Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA, The Leather Nun, and others. Reveling in Burroughs' work (especially his cut-ups with Brion Gysin), as well as pornography, Aleister Crowley, and the Marquis de Sade, the band itself was suitably named after the Hull slang term for an erection. After their final appearance in 1981-- part of a two-date California tour-- they notified fans and friends of their breakup via postcards that read, "The Mission Is Terminated." After the dissolution, the central cast of characters-- Chris Carter, Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, and Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson-- tried to make good on their numerous manifestos and claims, spawning Psychic TV, Chris & Cosey (aka Carter Tutti), and Coil, and partaking in careers in art, writing, and video/sound production. The bifurcations are endless.
It's important to see Throbbing Gristle as a supreme non-band, a group of individuals who thought fashion the enemy: Whereas Marilyn Manson gave himself digitized breasts for the cover of Mechanical Animals, P-Orridge had a pair (to match his girlfriend's) implanted for real; pop divas play with the idea of sexuality, whereas Fanni Tutti was a bona fide porn model and actress, partaking in 1975's Teenage Sin and 1970's 22-minute reel, Sexangle, among others.
As relevant (and forward thinking) as ever, Throbbing Gristle have now released two new collections of material. The stronger of the two, The Taste of TG: A Beginner's Guide to the Music of Throbbing Gristle, offers 14 tracks culled from the band's four proper albums, two live tracks, and "Exotic Functions" from Journey Through a Body, the group's last studio recording from March 1981. Packaged with a disturbing, tongue-lashing cover image by Sleazy, there happily isn't much overlap with 1984's Greatest Hits-- only the absolutely essential "Hamburger Lady", "Hot on the Heels of Love", and "United" are repeated-- and while neither replaces the original full-lengths, these Cliff's Notes are as good a launching point as any.
The Taste of TG opens with the ascension of hazy washes on 1977's "Industrial Introduction" and shifts imperceptibly to the poltergeist bells, trilling synth, and discotheque percussion of "Distant Dreams - Part 2" from 1981's Mission of Dead Souls, and later includes the solid tribal rocker "Something Came Over Me", which, along with The Dickies' "If Stuart Could Talk" and The Buzzcocks' "Orgasm Addict", ranks among the catchiest punk-ass songs about jerking off ever committed to tape. As P-Orridge enthuses: "Something came over me/ Was it white and sticky?/ I don't know what it was/ My daddy didn't like it/ But I do it anyway/ Well, I rather liked it." "Hot on the Heels of Love", from 1979's essential 20 Jazz Funk Greats, retains its compulsory techno danceability with chronic electro percussion, spare synth, and Cosey Fanni Tutti's breathy, "I'm hot on the heels of love/ Waiting for help from above."
Other tracks are less rhythm-oriented. You can hear Wolf Eyes in the humid, monkey-cage kabuki of "Exotic Functions" and the tortured insect monsoon of "Cabaret Voltaire", the latter of which is represented here by a 1978 live rendition captured at Wakefield's Industrial Training College. The submerged, incomprehensible grunge frolic of "Zyklon B. Zombie" still disturbs: Over distorted electronics, a warped, somehow bubbly vocal intones: "I'm just a little Jewish girl/ Ain't got no clothes on/ And if I had a steel hammer/ I'd smash your teeth in/ And as I walk her to the gas chamber/ I'm out there laughing." Elsewhere, the agonizing bare-bones scream-core of "We Hate You (Little Girls)" serves as an utterly tweaked foil.
Mutant TG, which contains eight remixes-- some by members of the band itself, and some by visionary electronic artists such as Carl Craig and Two Lone Swordsmen-- is a less powerful representation of Throbbing Gristle's work, due to some ponderousness and one too many cooks. Though a few of its pieces are interesting, Throbbing Gristle's originals are far trashier, ambient, intuitive, and less easily categorized. The edges seemed more porous and dense on the original versions, suggesting a sexier, far creepier dancefloor. Here, the French/U.S. collaborative duo Motor offer a nicely disemboweled "Persuasion", while Carl Craig wisely keeps intrusions to a minimum on his revamps of "Hot on the Heels of Love" and "Still Walking". Otherwise, Hedonastik turns "What a Day" into PBS-styled world techno, Two Lone Swordsman shift "United"'s spooky Crowley to maudlin Trent Reznor, and Basement Jaxx's Simon Ratcliffe turns a deaf ear to "Hot on the Heels of Love", plowing subtleties with overloaded dancefloor trope, sonic breakdowns and an embarrassingly "explosive" finale.
Proving they know how to best plug their own gaps with intricacies, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti ably rework "Hamburger Lady". Their update maintains the original's spooky locust feel, but slows things down ever more and splices in additional dub etchings. The duo also create a "United" and "Hot on the Heels of Love" hybrid titled "Hotheelsunited". The new percussion, insistent pulse swells, precipitate line-breaks, rich gradations, and overall shadowing allow "Hotheelsunited" to end Mutant TG on an official bang. Even so, it goes without saying that this is a fans-only release.
On these two collections, Throbbing Gristle not only sound current, but are current. In fact, they're still active today. Although their one-off reunion show planned for a couple of weeks ago was unfortunately cancelled, they do plan to rattle through their last-ever concert at self-curated event in April 2005. The unexpected delay has certainly bummed-out a bunch of longtime diehards, but at least newer fans now have close to a year to unpack the quartet's vast output before deciding if they'll partake in the last hurrah. That was advance warning, so arm yourself." [Brandon Stosuy, May 31, 2004 / Pitchfork]
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