Rebellious Jukebox: Throbbing Gristle
I don’t know where I had heard about Throbbing Gristle but I had just got a catalogue through from Mute Records and there was a big re-release program going on where they had all of the bands albums available so I bought six at once. I had never even listened to them once. To say that the first time I put on one of their albums was a headfuck will be something that anyone who has listened to them will understand. I wasn’t sure whether I liked them but I persisted. Their music is not something that it is easy to listen to at first. For a band that came out of an art school there is something that comes across as very unstudied in the music — and I know that must have taken a lot of work. The artfulness was much more apparent in the presentation — a continual exercise in confrontation, and prodding their audience. It’s meant to make you feel uncomfortable. But it makes you feel; it makes you react — how rare is that nowadays? Who out there really sounds like Throbbing Gristle? The music plugs into your head in a very visceral way — like a download of the spirit of the new flesh as explored in Cronenberg films like Videodrome. My favourite album by the group is 20 Jazz Funk Greats, why? Its rawness — raw in the way that Uncle Frank was raw in Hellraiser; raw in the meat and roar in the soul. If it engages you it engages you and I know with some people it will be a turn off exercise. Don’t do what I did and go out and buy the 24 Hour box set, or maybe do — jump in at the deep end. Throbbing Gristle invite extremes — they are one of, if not, the first industrial band; pioneers of electronic music, punk, arthouse; one of the most extreme, scarifying, and at times tender experiences that you are likely to have. Like being pulled through thorn bushes on the end of a barbed wire leash and then being fed your favourite ice cream.