THROBBING GRISTLE: Part Two – The Endless Not (Industrial)


Posted on Aug 15th 2007 12:55 pm

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Throbbing Gristle: Part Two - The Endless Not

Part Two – The Endless Not
Industrial Records 2007
10 Tracks. 67mins21secs

For a group so notorious for the bombast of its artistic statements, Throbbing Gristle’s breakup was a low-key and unexpected end. In 1981, TG announced its disbandment with a simply phrased postcard reading, “Throbbing Gristle: The Mission Is Terminated.” At the cusp of new wave and synthpop, TG were beginning to enjoy commercial success, bringing an illogical and abrupt end to a dense, wild, and frequently shocking trip.

It should, perhaps, not have been a surprise that, as sublimely as they broke up, Throbbing Gristle reunited some two decades later. Shortly following the reunion was the issue of the TG Now EP, and, now, the appropriately titled full length, Part Two. From the outset, it’s clear that this is the sound of TG older, and wiser. As is hinted at by the title, however, TG do not feel the need to look backwards. It’s definitely Gristle, but they’re not resting on their laurels. From the very beginning, the cleanly digital vocal cutups of Vow of Silence establish that TG don’t fear the advance of technology. While they may have traded in some of the old homemade sequencers for laptops, the classic TG aura remains – nauseating bass twists, fervent and frantic drum loops, and oddly disturbing samples are abundant.

Owing perhaps to their maturity, TG have, literally, slowed down. There’s nothing here as fast and direct as Something Came Over Me – or even United – rather, this is an album whose songs require the proper time and space to build. Amid a dissonant, free jazz backdrop, Rabbit Snare establishes a narrative of an assailant addressing his victim (or maybe a John pleading with a prostitute?). Why are you scared? asks P-Orridge, in his most menacing baritone, “do you love me?” Things only take a turn for the more disturbing (and, it can be said, thrilling) in this direction with Almost A Kiss, in which P-Orridge desperately laments a love that will never be. The real star of this one, however, is Cosey Fanni Tutti’s lush, spilt-out guitar solo. Odd to be saying it, but TG have accomplished their Maggot Brain.

Similar to 1978’s D.O.A.: The Third And Final Report, Part Two features one solo track by each member. Most intriguing is Peter Cristophsen’s After The Fall. It’s not clear what exactly “The Fall” is, but one can make an educated guess that it has something to do with the tragic 2004 death of musical (and sometimes romantic) partner Jhonn Balance. After a lifetime making brilliant and challenging music with Coil, as well as battling numerous addictions, Balance fell to his death from the balcony of his house. Indeed, one can feel the specter of Balance, and Coil, all over this release; “after the fall” being the most likely candidate for Sleazy’s way of saying goodbye on record.

With any reunion, the $64,000 question is, was it worth it? Was it worth it for all the members of TG to work together again after all these years? Does it have more value that just as a nostalgia act? The good news is that TG are far too confrontational to become a nostalgia act. Nor are they content to reunite without a sense of purpose. While Part Two may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and lacks the immediacy of both their noise collages and proto-synthpop songs, it is a complete statement of an album, one which rewards patience and multiple listens, and more than justifies their resumption of the Industrial Mission.


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