Peter Christopherson

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Peter Christopherson
Peter Christopherson 2007 (02).JPG
Peter Christopherson in 2007
Background information
Birth namePeter Martin Christopherson
Also known asSleazy
Born(1955-02-27)27 February 1955
Leeds, England
Died25 November 2010(2010-11-25) (aged 55)
Bangkok, Thailand
Genres Industrial
music video director
commercial artist
Instruments Keyboards
french horn
Years active1975–2010
Labels Threshold House
Associated acts Soisong
The Threshold HouseBoys Choir
Throbbing Gristle
Psychic TV

Peter Martin Christopherson (also known as Sleazy, 27 February 1955 – 25 November 2010) [1] was a musician, video director, commercial artist, designer and photographer, and former member of British design agency Hipgnosis.

Hipgnosis was an English art design group based in London that specialised in creating cover art for the albums of rock musicians and bands. Notable commissions included work for Pink Floyd, T. Rex, the Pretty Things, Black Sabbath, UFO, 10cc, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Scorpions, Yes, The Nice, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Def Leppard, Paul McCartney & Wings, the Alan Parsons Project, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Electric Light Orchestra, the Police, Rainbow, Styx, Pezband, XTC and Al Stewart.


He was one of the original members of the Industrial Records band Throbbing Gristle (TG). After the disbandment of Throbbing Gristle, he participated in the formation of Psychic TV along with Genesis P-Orridge and Geoff Rushton—Rushton later changed his name to John Balance. [1]

Industrial Records is a record label established in 1976 by industrial music group and performance artists Throbbing Gristle. The group created the label primarily for self-releases but also signed several other groups and artists. The label gave a name to the industrial music genre.

Throbbing Gristle English band

Throbbing Gristle were an English music and visual arts group, officially formed in September 1975 in Kingston upon Hull by members Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson and Chris Carter. They are widely regarded as pioneers of industrial music. Evolving from the experimental performance art group COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle made their public debut in October 1976 on COUM exhibition Prostitution, and, the following year, released their debut single, "United / Zyklon B Zombie", followed by an album, The Second Annual Report (1977).

Psychic TV British-American multimedia collective

Psychic TV is an English experimental video art and music group, formed by performance artist Genesis P-Orridge and video director Peter Christopherson in 1981 after the break-up of Throbbing Gristle.

After his short time in Psychic TV, Christopherson formed Coil with Balance, which lasted for just under 23 years, until Balance died of a fall in the Weston-super-Mare home he shared with Christopherson. [1] Christopherson participated in the reunification of Throbbing Gristle and, after his relocation to Thailand in 2005, composed an album for his solo endeavour The Threshold HouseBoys Choir. Christopherson died in his sleep on 25 November 2010.

Coil (band) English post-industrial band

Coil were an English experimental music group, founded in 1982 by John Balance in London. Initially envisioned as a solo project by singer and songwriter Balance while he was in the band Psychic TV, Coil evolved into a full-time project with the addition of Peter Christopherson, a former member of pioneering industrial group Throbbing Gristle who became Balance's creative and personal partner. Throughout the group's existence, Balance and Christopherson were the only constant members; others members and contributors included Stephen Thrower, Danny Hyde, Drew McDowall, William Breeze, Thighpaulsandra, and Ossian Brown.

Thailand Constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup in 2014 established a de facto military dictatorship.

The Threshold HouseBoys Choir British musician

The Threshold HouseBoys Choir was a musical guise for Peter Christopherson, announced in 2005 as a follow up endeavor to his former group Coil. Despite the name, it was a solo project which relied heavily on computer generated vocals, of which he was formally credited as the "director." The name was derived from a play on words, combining the terms houseboy, house of boys, boys' choir, and Threshold House. THBC was stationed in Bangkok, Thailand.

Early life

Christopherson was born on 27 February 1955 in Leeds, England. His father, Derman Christopherson, was a professor of engineering who became master of Magdalene College, Cambridge prior to receiving a knighthood. Following school, Christopherson studied computer programming, theatre design and video at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) in New York, United States (US). [1]

Leeds City in England

Leeds is a city in West Yorkshire, England. Leeds has one of the most diverse economies of all the UK's main employment centres and has seen the fastest rate of private-sector jobs growth of any UK city. It also has the highest ratio of private to public sector jobs of all the UK's Core Cities, with 77% of its workforce working in the private sector. Leeds has the third-largest jobs total by local authority area, with 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015. Leeds is ranked as a gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by four universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and the country's fourth largest urban economy.

Sir Derman Guy Christopherson was a British engineering science academic.

Magdalene College, Cambridge constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England

Magdalene College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college was founded in 1428 as a Benedictine hostel, in time coming to be known as Buckingham College, before being refounded in 1542 as the College of St Mary Magdalene. Magdalene counted some of the greatest men in the realm among its benefactors, including Britain's premier noble the Duke of Norfolk, the Duke of Buckingham and Lord Chief Justice Christopher Wray. Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII, was responsible for the refoundation of the college and also established its motto—garde ta foy. Audley's successors in the Mastership and as benefactors of the College were, however, prone to dire ends; several benefactors were arraigned at various stages on charges of high treason and executed.


Christopherson was a founding member of Throbbing Gristle, who are credited with creating the industrial music genre before disbanding in 1981. [2] Throbbing Gristle members Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti formed their own group, while Christopherson and the band's other member P-Orridge formed Psychic TV with Balance and other musicians. [3]

Industrial music is a genre of experimental music which draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic defines industrial music as the "most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music" that was "initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments and punk provocation". The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by members of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazazza. While the genre name originated with Throbbing Gristle's emergence in the United Kingdom, concentrations of artists and labels vital to the genre also emerged in Chicago.

Chris Carter is an English musician, best known for being a synthesist and member of Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey. His longtime partner Cosey Fanni Tutti is the mother of his son, Nick, as well as a member of Throbbing Gristle.

Cosey Fanni Tutti British musician

Cosey Fanni Tutti is an English performance artist, musician, and writer, best known for her time in the avant-garde groups Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey.

Balance met Christopherson as a Throbbing Gristle fan and the two became intimate partners. [1] Christopherson worked on the first two Psychic TV albums, Force the Hand of Chance and Dreams Less Sweet , joined by Balance on the latter. The two performed live several times with Psychic TV prior to forming their own project Coil.

<i>Force the Hand of Chance</i> album by Psychic TV

Force the Hand of Chance is the debut studio album by English experimental group Psychic TV, released in 1982 by record label Some Bizzare. The first 5,000 pressings came with a bonus album, Themes.

<i>Dreams Less Sweet</i> 1983 studio album by Psychic TV

Dreams Less Sweet is the second studio album by English experimental band Psychic TV, released in 1983. It was the last Psychic TV album to feature co-founder Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson.

Coil consisted of Christopherson and Balance, while Steven E. Thrower occasionally played bass guitar and drums. Balance was the lyricist and also played Chapman Stick and some keyboards. In 1987, Christopherson explained the sound of Coil:

A ‘big movie theater’ ambience. We’ve always liked movies about Turkish prisons and Roman galleys. Most contemporary music draws its imagery from the past 30 years, going back to the ’50s. But there’s a whole wealth of imagery from earlier times that’s fascinating to draw from. [4]

Over two decades, Coil released a myriad of recordings, in addition to contributing to the work of other artists. They recorded parts of the album The New Backwards at Nothing Studios in New Orleans, US, owned by musician Trent Reznor at the time. In the liner notes of the 2008 CD release, Christopherson wrote: "Thanks to everyone there, especially Trent Reznor who made it all possible." [5]

Despite Christopherson's long and extensive history as a musical artist, he only released two tracks under the name "Peter Christopherson". The first, "In My Head A Crystal Sphere of Heavy Fluid", appeared on the compilation Foxtrot , a benefit album for Balance's rehabilitation from alcohol dependence, while the second, "All Possible Numbers", appeared eleven years later on Autumn Blood (Constructions) released on Fourth Dimension Records.[ citation needed ]

In 2005, following the death of Balance, Christopherson relocated from England to Bangkok, Thailand and founded the solo project The Threshold HouseBoys Choir. [1] He also released the final Coil CDs— The Remote Viewer , [6] Black Antlers , [7] ...And The Ambulance Died in His Arms [8] and The New Backwards [5] —on the band's own Threshold House label. In addition to the CD releases, Christopherson also released a 16-DVD box set following his relocation, entitled Colour Sound Oblivion, that was produced in a wooden box, in which a fifteen-page booklet, the program for Balance's funeral ceremony and a large collection of 6-inch × 4-inch postcards (mainly tour photographs) were also included. [9]

Throbbing Gristle also reformed for a few concerts in 2005 and announced a new album called Part Two . The group announced several additional concerts in 2007 for the promotion of the album.[ citation needed ]

In 2007 Christopherson released the debut album of The Threshold HouseBoys Choir. The album, Form Grows Rampant , consists of five "parts" or songs, and includes a DVD of the album set to video footage of Thai rituals in Krabi, Thailand. [10] [11] One tour promoter who organized a Threshold HouseBoys Choir concert described it as "easily the most shocking thing I have ever experienced". [1]

In 2008 Christopherson and Ivan Pavlov (aka CoH) started a new project called Soisong. The band officially premiered in Tokyo on 9 March 2008 and later performed several shows in Europe, having self-released their debut EP. As part of the tour, Soisong performed a live soundtrack to Derek Jarman's film Blue in Rovereto, Italy. In April of the same year, Christopherson and Pavlov, alongside David Tibet, Othon Mataragas and Ernesto Tomasini, also performed a live soundtrack for The Angelic Conversation in Turin, Italy. [12]

In 2009 Soisong recorded their first full-length album xAj3z, the release of which was followed by a European Reunion Tour and a worldwide campaign in search of the band's missing virtual vocalists featured on the record. In 2010 Soisong declared a "Split Phase 2010", during which all of the members would concentrate on their personal work; however, two independently recorded solo EPs, both entitled Soisong, were scheduled for release. Christopherson never finalized his work for the release, but Soisong Split was eventually published in September 2012, nearly two years after Christopherson's death. The release consists of a CoH Soisong EP by Pavlov, originally recorded in 2010, and a collection of four unpublished sketches by Christopherson that were made available on the band's website.[ citation needed ]

In 2010 Christopherson started collaborating with Hirsute Pursuit, featuring Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall, via email. They finished two songs together, "One Sleazy Night in Bangkok" and "One Sleazy Night in New Orleans", for the album Tighten That Muscle Ring. The album was signed to Cold Spring Records, but Christopherson died prior to its release. Boyd Rice was also a contributor and his vocal appearance opens the album with a cover version of David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging". Writing for the Quietus online publication, Luke Turner claimed that the album was "the most sexy and perverted album of 2012". [13]

Also in 2010, Christopherson was sent an iPad by musician Trent Reznor that contained music for a potential collaboration. Reznor had asked for his blessing to use the moniker "How to Destroy Angels" for a musical project that Reznor was creating with his wife (Christopherson had used the phrase in 1982, as the title of the first recording released by Coil). Christopherson responded amenably, suggesting that they could potentially collaborate as part of the project. Christopherson explained that Reznor was a "perfect gentleman" in regard to the way in which the matter was negotiated; however, Christopherson died before he was able to resend the iPad back to Reznor with his contribution. [14]

The final music that was ever recorded by Christopherson occurred in Bangkok, Thailand with a project named "Electric Sewer Age" that also involved musician Danny Hyde. The original intention of the recordings was to complete a series of releases called "Moons Milk", but an album called In Final Phase was eventually released in 2013, with only 999 numbered CD copies made available. The CD is packaged in record sleeve-style thickened cardboard, and each copy is numbered from 1 to 999, while the insert sleeve displays a picture of Christopherson in his Bangkok studio that was taken at the moment that the recording was completed. [15]

Musical innovator

Peter Christopherson in 2008 Peter Christopherson @ A2.jpg
Peter Christopherson in 2008

Writing for The Guardian , Dave Simpson credited Christopherson with using digital samplers on-stage before the Fairlight CMI popularised sampling. [3] Also writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis described Carter and Christopherson as "pioneers in technology", and noted a sampler that Carter had custom-built for Christopherson a number of years before sampling became popular. [1] Christopherson explained Carter's construction and musical experimentation in a 1987 interview with Keyboard magazine:

It was a box that [TG synthesist] Chris Carter made for me, to my design that basically switched on and off – through inputs on tape recorders – six cassette machines, the output of each going to a different key. Many of the machines I used in TG were cassette machines that were stripped down and altered to play backward and forward and four tracks at once, the speed variable by flywheels. The very first sampling device there ever was, as far as I know, was manufactured by Mountain Hardware for Apple computers. It was designed to reproduce voice samples, and had a very limited selection of pitches. I was using that onstage in '79 or '80, which was before the first Fairlight was used commercially. So I've always had a soft spot for sampling. [4]

Design, photography, commercial art and film

Prior to his musical projects, Christopherson was a commercial artist, designer, and photographer. Notably, he was one of the three partners of the album cover design group Hipgnosis, which was responsible for many notable album covers of the 1970s, such as those of Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here) and Peter Gabriel (first three albums). [3] He also designed the logo of UK fashion label BOY London. [16]

As a freelance photographer, Christopherson shot the first promotional images of the Sex Pistols in 1976. He later provided design work for SEX, the fashion boutique owned by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood). [16]

Christopherson remained involved with commercial art up until his later life. He directed over 40 music videos—for artists such as Rage Against the Machine, The The, Van Halen, Sepultura and Robert Plant—and was responsible for a high number of television commercials. [1] [16] He filmed and directed the Threshold HouseBoys Choir DVD that was filmed in Thailand [11] , as well as the infamous Broken . November 2014 saw the publication of a big retrospective book simply called "Peter Christopherson - Photography" by Edition Timeless, collecting a lot of unseen photos from all areas of his work in photography but focusing on his private work. [17]


Christopherson died in his sleep on 25 November 2010, aged 55. The cause of death was never made public. At the time of his death, Christopherson was working on a complete re-working of Nico's 1970 album Desertshore , to be released as a Throbbing Gristle album. [1]


In addition to numerous other tributes, P-Orridge wrote a lengthy eulogy for Christopherson, in which he concluded:

Sleazy loved Bangkok and Thailand. He had been visiting regularly for several years before deciding to move there permanently after John/Jhonn/Geoff passed on. While we were spending time in 2009 with him we were pretty sick from the intense emotional stress of our ceremony in Nepal for the reliving and releasing of a beloved. Sleazy became a source of every suture for my heart, loving sustenance for my soul. He nurtured me with words of wise counsel garnered from his own similar and tragic losses. There had been a long sometimes desolate expanse between the seventies and now. But we had both crossed our abyss and we were blessed by Sleazy’s loving nature to be able to accept his gentle embrace and, crying like a child we often are, be able to lovingly say to him, “I HAVE GOT MY FRIEND BACK.” Many times, since then, we have stopped during hard times, confusing times, and we think of Sleazy and how his mastery of light went from cameras to hearts and souls, and that makes me smile and laugh. Which is as he would wish. We loved Sleazy in all he did… [18]

Peter Gabriel published a brief post on his website on 26 November 2010 that opened with the statement: "We tip our hats to Mr Peter Christopherson". [19] Speaking to the Quietus website in February 2014, Reznor stated: "[Coil's] 'Tainted Love' video remains one of the greatest music videos of all time ... If it's not immediately obvious: Horse Rotorvator was deeply influential on me. What they did to your senses. What they could do with sound. What Jhonn was doing lyrically ... Peter was a lovely guy. We had a respectful relationship." [14]


Solo as Peter Christopherson

Solo as The Threshold HouseBoys Choir

With SoiSong

With Psychic TV

Other contributions

Date of releaseSong titleReleased onGroup name released underMusical role
1980"First/Last" Something For Nobody Monte Cazazza featuring (technical supervision)
1982 Seven Songs 23 Skidoo featuring (production)
1992"First/Last" The Worst of Monte Cazazza Monte Cazazzafeaturing (technical supervision)
1993"The Apocalyptic Folk in the Nodding God Unveiled" The Nodding Folk performer
1996"Videodrones; Questions" Lost Highway soundtrack Trent Reznor production
1996"Driver Down"Lost Highway SoundtrackTrent Reznorproduction
2000"Silence Is Golden" Vox Tinnitus CoH vocals
2001"My Angel (Director's Cut)" Love Uncut CoHvocals
6 August 2001 The Michel Publicity Window E.P. Thighpaulsandra album artwork design
2002"Autumn"SeasonsCoHuses field recordings by Christopherson
2005"Unhealthy Red" A Nature of Nonsense Aural Rage written by
2008"I'm in Black Out"The Zsigmondy ExperienceSion Orgonuses field recordings and vocals by Christopherson
2012"One Sleazy Night in Bangkok"Tighten That Muscle RingHirsute Pursuitcollaboration tracks with Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall1 of the last 2 tracks recorded before his death.
2012"One Sleazy Night in New Orleans"Tighten That Muscle RingHirsute Pursuitcollaboration tracks with Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall1 of the last 2 tracks recorded before his death.

Album artwork credits

This from Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson himself:[ citation needed ] "I worked as a free-lance photographer and contributor, then promoted to an assistant to Hipgnosis before becoming a partner, and continued to act also after I officially left the organization. So my contributions range from attempted but rejected artwork or design work, to partial contribution in either/both as an assistant, to being fully responsible for all design and artwork, such as the Peter Gabriel LPs. What you wish to document is up to you."

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Further reading