Throbbing Gristle – Journey Through a Body / Mission of Dead Souls / Heathen Earth – Mute

How would you best describe Throbbing Gristle? The very opposite of pete waterman. The antithesis? It’s peculiar now that when these records were originally released between 1980 to 1982 they passed me by. I have absolutely no idea why that would be as the music contained (along with their initial albums) hold a special significance for me today. The passage of time hasn’t aged anything about them. Which, after all, is how you determine what is really classic, what is not. The bands importance both as innovators and as creating some of the most stunning music since Johann Strauss cannot be underplayed. Perhaps that was what lacking any traditional sense of coherence produces in Art.

Beginning with the turn of the decade and the live album Heathen Earth which features an uneasy sense of electrical ambience as it does fierce distortion, it was never going to be an easy ride, was it. Something Came Over Me, illustrates the beauty and the beast just as any of the consequent tracks pulsating with brisk electronic energy, off kilter voices, atmospheric horn blasts, plus the soaring blaze of uniquely realised synthesizers do. While the proceeding Still Talking fathomed depths through the sound of voice that haunts to this very day, also preceding what came next with the use of samplers etc: I always find the unexpected, those moments are the best. A number of added extras comes with both the vinyl and CD releases which include photographs from the performances and additional bonus tracks.

Mission of Dead Souls, recorded at the Kezar Pavillion, San Francisco on 29 May 1981 sees the final performance of the band. This contains Persuasion, and if you needed any play this LOUD and be convinced. It is the suggestion of the flipside to life which chimes so powerfully alongside the brutal accompanying analogue via Chris Carter and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson tearing at the edges of sanity, and of course Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s vocal. Which teases out any relevant, hidden or otherwise, nuances. Again another essential document from the time and all part of the fascinating story. Sleeve notes are from Jon Savage.

Journey Through a Body, completes the action and was recorded as a piece of radio art for Italian National Radio RAI, Rome in March 1981. Catholic Sex has a certain liquid funk to it as well as Cosey Fanni Tutti’s brilliant Cornet playing, feeling like light relief to their more abrasive output. As does the chiming musicality witnessed on the rush of rhythm on Exotic Functions and the charming piano of Oltre La Morte, which also contrasts markedly. Having said that there is Violencia, as the title intimates sequences the unforgiving chorus of darker energies once again. The album has been unavailable since 1983 and is pressed in silver. More than enough to whet your appetite for now. The Art of noise.

Release: September 14

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