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Throbbing Gristle

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Throbbing Gristle


The world of Throbbing Gristle is a large and complex one and any sort of concise description is necessarily an injustice to their art and legacy. The quartet of Genesis P-Orrige (later of Psychic TV), Peter Christopherson (later of Coil), Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter (both later of Chris and Cosey) created a great deal of noise (as music and in the press) with aggressive performances and media manipulations, but the debt we owe to them is the birth of Industrial music -- so named after their independent label Industrial Records. Though they are always given lip service for their important role in music history, their music is so challenging that even today it is greatly under-appreciated for its brilliance. Disgusted with rock music, they mishandled their guitars to produce intense dissonance, and created their own electronic instruments. Genesis' processed vocals and Cosey's trumpet produced a clarion call to psychic subversion. Their music was intentionally abrupt and abrasive, subversive and subliminal. They were more likely to use monotony for its psychological effects than melody for its emotional value. They used electronic noise as a compositional element and the most minimal rhythm programming as hypnosis. But for all their aural violence, their music was most akin to the Disco pulse of Giorgio Moroder or the electronic adventurousness of early Tangerine Dream than any Punk or Prog experiments. Their sound had no equal until they inspired artists like Monte Cazazza and Cabaret Voltaire to create similar sounds -- the beginning of Industrial music as a genre. Through time, many artists created a much watered-down, tamer version of their electronic cacophony with a much wider public appeal. Even people who appreciate Throbbing Gristle rarely claim to "like" their music. Art of this intensity is not for everyone.
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