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Throbbing Gristle - 20 Jazz Funk Greats CD (album) cover


Throbbing Gristle


Progressive Electronic

4.16 | 45 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Seems like our Progressive net is getting wider these days, and bringing up some odd fish. Throbbing Gristle, in a Prog Rock forum? Good grief, who's next: Alan Vega and Suicide? (On the other hand, why not?)

Throbbing Gristle scared me in my sheltered adolescence, and even now, as a more worldly-wise adult, I still feel uneasy in their company. The band's transgressive audio-visual ethos was akin to lifting a rock and seeing the writhing mass of creepy-crawly things beneath it: all part of the rich tapestry of life, but hardly something you want your nose rubbed in.

Their 1997 studio album is probably the quartet's most accessible effort, but with this group that's a relative measure at best, and it doesn't extend too far beyond the parody cover art and title track: a rinky-dink robotic pop rhythm, complete with groovy, whispered interjections like "yeah..!" and "nice!" Just a touch of ersatz beatnik humor to brighten an otherwise nightmarish soundscape; some editions of the album telegraphed the punchline by adding a naked corpse to the faux-'60s cover photo.

But don't be fooled. Throbbing Gristle was notorious for exploring the darker recesses of the human condition, operating in a dark industrial netherland of post-punk electronics. The German bands that inspired them (KLUSTER, early KRAFTWERK, the first TANGERINE DREAM) were formed in reaction against the horrors of their collective past. But groups like TG embraced those same terrors as a way to confront our darker impulses, without flinching. Torture, genocide, pornography, disfigurement, etc...all set to a throbbing mechanical backbeat, with atonal brass accents, eerie tape effects, and soulless vocals conjured from somewhere beyond the grave.

Disturbing stuff, but...well, you decide. If nothing else, the band offered a challenging antidote to all those vapid synth-pop superstars hogging the limelight at the dawn of the 1980s. For the best effect, play the album late at night, with all the lights off. But hide the knives first.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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