Throbbing Gristle

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Throbbing Gristle
Throbbing Gristle-New York.jpg
Throbbing Gristle performing in New York in 2009
Background information
Origin Kingston upon Hull, England
Years active1975 (1975)–1981, 2004–2010 (2010)
Labels Industrial
Associated acts
Past members Peter Christopherson
Cosey Fanni Tutti
Chris Carter
Genesis P-Orridge

Throbbing Gristle were an English music and visual arts group, officially formed in September 1975 in Kingston upon Hull by members Genesis P-Orridge (born Neil Megson), Cosey Fanni Tutti (born Christine Newby), 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).

Visual arts art forms that create works that are primarily visual in nature

The visual arts are art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, filmmaking, design, crafts, and architecture. Many artistic disciplines involve aspects of the visual arts as well as arts of other types. Also included within the visual arts are the applied arts such as industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and decorative art.

Kingston upon Hull City and unitary authority in England

Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, is a port city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It lies upon the River Hull at its confluence with the Humber Estuary, 25 miles (40 km) inland from the North Sea, 50 miles (80 km) east of Leeds, 34 miles (55 km) southeast of York and 54 miles (87 km) northeast of Sheffield. With a population of 260,700 (mid-2017 est.), Hull is the fourth-largest city in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Genesis P-Orridge British musician and writer

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is an English singer-songwriter, musician, poet, performance artist, and occultist. After rising to notability as the founder of the COUM Transmissions artistic collective and then fronting the industrial band Throbbing Gristle, P-Orridge was a founding member of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth occult group, and fronted the experimental band Psychic TV. P-Orridge identifies as third gender.


The band released several subsequent studio and live albums—including D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle (1978), 20 Jazz Funk Greats (1979), and Heathen Earth (1980)—on their own record label Industrial Records, building a notorious reputation with their transgressive and confrontational aesthetics; they included the extensive use of often disturbing visual imagery (such as fascist and Nazi symbolism, and pornography), as well as that of sound manipulation (noise; pre-recorded tape-based samples) influenced by works of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin.

<i>D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle</i> 1978 studio album by Throbbing Gristle

D.o.A: The Third and Final Report is the second studio album by industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle, released in December 1978 by record label Industrial.

<i>20 Jazz Funk Greats</i> 1979 studio album by Throbbing Gristle

20 Jazz Funk Greats is the third studio album by British industrial music group Throbbing Gristle, released in December 1979 by the band's label Industrial Records. It is known for its tongue-in-cheek title and artwork, and has been hailed as the band's best work, with UK magazine Fact naming it the best album of the 1970s, and Pitchfork naming it the best industrial album of all time.

<i>Heathen Earth</i> 1980 live album by Throbbing Gristle

Heathen Earth is a live album by the English industrial band Throbbing Gristle, released in 1980 through Industrial Records.

Throbbing Gristle dissolved in 1981 due to interpersonal differences; the individual members went on to participate in other projects, such as Psychic TV, Coil and Chris & Cosey. The band was reformed in 2004, and released three more studio albums— TG Now (2004), Part Two , and The Third Mind Movements (2009)—before disbanding again after P-Orridge's departure and Christopherson's death in Autumn 2010; the band's last studio project — a cover version of the 1970 Nico album Desertshore called The Desertshore Installation — was released in 2012 under the moniker X-TG.

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.

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.

Chris & Cosey British band

Chris & Cosey, now performing as Carter Tutti, are a band formed in 1981, consisting of couple Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, both previously members of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle.


First era: 1976–1981

Throbbing Gristle evolved from the performance art group COUM Transmissions, which was formed in Kingston upon Hull by a group of performers centred on Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti. The last known performance of COUM Transmissions—Prostitution, an exhibition which was held in October 1976 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts—was also the public debut of Throbbing Gristle. [8]

COUM Transmissions was a music and performance art collective who operated in the United Kingdom from 1969 through to 1976. Influenced by the Dada artistic movement, COUM were openly confrontational and subversive, challenging aspects of conventional British society. Founded in Hull, Yorkshire by Genesis P-Orridge, other prominent early members included Cosey Fanni Tutti and Spydeee Gasmantell. Part-time member included Menzies, Haydn Robb, Les Maull, Ray Harvey and Fizzy Paet. Later members included Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson and Chris Carter, who together with P-Orridge and Fanni Tutti went on to found the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle in 1976.

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.

Institute of Contemporary Arts art centre in London

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) is an artistic and cultural centre on The Mall in London, just off Trafalgar Square. Located within Nash House, part of Carlton House Terrace, near the Duke of York Steps and Admiralty Arch, the ICA contains galleries, a theatre, two cinemas, a bookshop and a bar. Stefan Kalmár became its director in 2016.

Throbbing Gristle's confrontational live performances and use of often disturbing imagery, including pornography and photographs of Nazi concentration camps, gave the group a notorious reputation. The group always maintained that their mission was to challenge and explore the darker and obsessive sides of the human condition rather than to make attractive music. Throbbing Gristle made extensive use of pre-recorded tape-based samples [9] and special effects to produce a distinctive, highly distorted background, usually accompanied by lyrics or spoken-word performances by Cosey Fanni Tutti or Genesis P-Orridge. Though they asserted they wanted to provoke their audience into thinking for themselves rather than pushing any specific agenda (as evidenced by the song "Don't Do As You're Told, Do As You Think" on Heathen Earth ), Throbbing Gristle also frequently associated with the anarchist punk scene. They appeared in the fanzine Toxic Grafity, with a condensation of their own propaganda parody series, Industrial News. [10]

Sampling (music) reproduction of short extracts from a musical work

In music, sampling is the reuse of a portion or sample of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise rhythm, melody, speech, or other sounds. They are usually integrated using hardware (samplers) or software such as digital audio workstations.

Fanzine magazine published by fans

A fanzine is a non-professional and non-official publication produced by enthusiasts of a particular cultural phenomenon for the pleasure of others who share their interest. The term was coined in an October 1940 science fiction fanzine by Russ Chauvenet and first popularized within science fiction fandom, and from there it was adopted by other communities.

In 1977, they released their debut single, "United / Zyklon B Zombie", followed by an album, The Second Annual Report . Although pressed in a limited initial run of 786 copies on the band's own Industrial Records label, it was later re-released on Mute Records due to high demand; however, this later release was reversed with all tracks playing backwards and in reverse order. This was followed by a series of albums, singles and live performances over a four-year period.

United/Zyklon B Zombie single by Throbbing Gristle

"United/Zyklon B Zombie" is the debut single by industrial band Throbbing Gristle. It was released in 7" vinyl format in May 1978, through the band's own Industrial Records.

<i>The Second Annual Report</i> 1977 studio album / Live album by Throbbing Gristle

The Second Annual Report is the debut album by English industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle, released in November 1977 through Industrial Records. It is a combination of live and studio recordings made from October 1976 to September 1977.

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.

In 1981 Michael Sheppard, concert promoter and founder of Transparency Record label brought Throbbing Gristle to Los Angeles. [11] On 29 May 1981, Throbbing Gristle performed at the Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco. This concert marked the end of the group. As Cosey succinctly put it, "TG broke up because me and Gen broke up". [12]

Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson went on to form Psychic TV, while Cosey Fanni Tutti and Carter continued to record together under the names of Chris and Cosey, Carter Tutti and Creative Technology Institute. Christopherson had participated in Psychic TV's first releases, and had later joined John Balance in the latter project Coil. Meanwhile, Gen (now known as Genesis Breyer P-Orridge) subsequently formed Thee Majesty and PTV3 with the help of his wife, Jacqueline "Jaye" Breyer.

Second era: 2004–2010

In 2004, Throbbing Gristle briefly reunited to record and release the limited album TG Now . On 2 April 2007, TG released the album Part Two , which the group had finished recording in Berlin. With the exception of TG Now, it was their first studio album in twenty five years. It was originally set to be released by Mute Records in September 2006 but was delayed for unknown reasons.

In March 2007, Side-Line announced Part Two's final release date, adding that a string of special live events would take place in 2007. [13]

A seven-disc DVD set, titled TGV , was issued in 2007. [14] The set contains old and new footage of the band. TGV came packaged in a deluxe box with a 64-page book, all designed by Christopherson. [15]

The group performed a re-interpretation of their debut album The Second Annual Report twice in 2008 to mark thirty years since its original release. [16] The performance in Paris on 6 June was issued as a limited edition framed vinyl set entitled The Thirty-Second Annual Report, which was limited to 777 copies (as the group claim the original was, although other sources claim that there were 785). [17]

Throbbing Gristle worked to record an album based on their interpretation of Nico's album Desertshore . [18] The group issued the entirety of the recording sessions for this album as a limited edition twelve-CD set packaged in a custom CD wallet, The Desertshore Installation , which sold out via mail order from the group's website. [19]

In April 2009, Throbbing Gristle toured the United States, appearing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Chicago. A new release was made available at these shows, The Third Mind Movements , which was edited from jams recorded during the Desertshore recording sessions.

A collaboration with Cerith Wyn Evans titled A=P=P=A=R=I=T=I=O=N was displayed at Tramway, Glasgow from the 7 August to 27 September 2009. Throbbing Gristle contributed a multi-channel soundtrack that was played through sixteen hanging Audio Spotlight sound panels that Evans had incorporated into his sculpture. [20]

In November 2009, Throbbing Gristle and Industrial Records released their version of the Buddha Machine called Gristleism. It was designed by Throbbing Gristle and Christiaan Virant based on FM3's design. Gristleism offers more loops and almost twice the frequency range of the Buddha Machine. The player comes in three colours: black, chrome and red. [21]

On 29 October 2010, Throbbing Gristle announced on their website that Genesis P-Orridge had informed them that s/he was no longer willing to perform with Throbbing Gristle and would be returning to their home in New York. Chris, Cosey and Christopherson would finish the tour under the name X-TG.

P-Orridge's website stated that s/he had not quit Throbbing Gristle and had just stopped participating on the current tour; it also said that an explanation would be released when all things were cleared up. However, on 24 November 2010, Christopherson died in his sleep at the age of 55, and the band subsequently dissolved. [22]

Third era: 2011–present

In 2011, Industrial Records had an official "re-activation", as TG's contract with Mute Records had expired. Since TG has permanently disbanded following the death of Christopherson, the label's plan is to re-release the original TG albums ( The Second Annual Report , D.o.A: The Third and Final Report , 20 Jazz Funk Greats , Heathen Earth and Greatest Hits ) on the label. Originally intended to be released en masse on 26 September 2011, they had to delay due to a Sony DADC warehouse fire in London. The plan changed to issue each album chronologically once per week starting on Halloween 2011 with The Second Annual Report and ending 28 November with Greatest Hits. [23]

Industrial Records announced that a double album, called Desertshore/The Final Report, would be released on 26 November 2012. Chris and Cosey produced the album, with the participation of guest vocalists Anohni (from Antony and the Johnsons), Blixa Bargeld (from Einstürzende Neubauten), Marc Almond (from Soft Cell), film director Gaspar Noé and former pornstar Sasha Grey. [24]

A group decision had been made prior to Christopherson's death that the album would be recorded afresh, as they were not satisfied with the ICA recordings. Christopherson had been the driving force behind the project and had been working on the record in Bangkok with Danny Hyde, even getting custom instruments made to use for the album. "It was Sleazy's project, then Cosey and Sleazy's, then I came in on it", Carter explained in an interview with The Quietus . [25] After Christopherson died, the Desertshore instruments were given to Carter and Cosey and they began combining the recordings he had been making with the work they had done themselves. [26] They announced plans to debut the album live at AV Festival on 17 March 2012 accompanied by a screening of Philippe Garrel's film The Inner Scar "for which Desertshore was soundtrack and inspiration". [27] [ clarification needed ]


The band is widely viewed as having created the industrial music genre, along with contemporaries Cabaret Voltaire. [28] [ page needed ] The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazazza; on Throbbing Gristle's debut album The Second Annual Report , they coined the slogan "industrial music for industrial people." [29] The first wave of this music appeared with Throbbing Gristle from London, and Cabaret Voltaire from Sheffield. [30]



During Throbbing Gristle's extensive career they have released numerous volumes of music including studio albums, live releases as well as box sets.

Studio albums

Related Research Articles

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 America, namely in Chicago.

Peter Christopherson English musician

Peter Martin Christopherson was a musician, video director, commercial artist, designer and photographer, and former member of British design agency Hipgnosis.

<i>Desertshore</i> 1970 studio album by Nico

Desertshore is the third solo album and fourth studio album by German musician Nico. It was released in December 1970 on the Reprise label.

Paula P-Orridge, also known as Alaura O'Dell, is an English musician, writer, and entrepreneur.

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.

<i>Part Two</i> (Throbbing Gristle album) 2007 studio album by Throbbing Gristle

Part Two is an album by English industrial band Throbbing Gristle, released in 2007 through record label Mute Records.

Throbbing Gristle were noted for their live performances, which were often experimental and quite different from their pre-recorded work. In addition to studio albums, a large number of recordings of live shows were released, of varying sound quality. A concise history of Throbbing Gristle and COUM Transmissions can be found in Simon Ford's book Wreckers of Civilisation (ISBN 1-901033-60-0). A 25 CD boxed set, TG24, documenting many live Throbbing Gristle performances was released in December 2002. A follow-up to this boxset chronicling the last 10 performances was released as TG+ in January 2004. These releases accumulated recordings that had originally been released on cassette-only boxed sets and individually released vinyl albums of official and bootleg status. Long out of circulation, the new releases sparked a renewed interest in the band.

<i>TG Now</i> 2004 studio album by Throbbing Gristle

TG Now is an album by pioneering English industrial band Throbbing Gristle, released in 2004 through record label Industrial Records. It was their first album of original material since 1982's Journey Through a Body.

<i>The First Annual Report</i> 2001 studio album by Throbbing Gristle

The First Annual Report is a bootleg album of music recorded by industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle in 1975. The recording originally went unreleased, and the band instead decided to release The Second Annual Report in 1977. This recording was first released unofficially in 1987 as Very Friendly through Spurt Records, before being issued prominently as The First Annual Report in 2001.

<i>In the Shadow of the Sun</i> (album) 1984 soundtrack album by Throbbing Gristle

In the Shadow of the Sun is an improvised musical score by Throbbing Gristle for the 1981 Derek Jarman film of the same name.

Discipline (Throbbing Gristle song) single/song by Throbbing Gristle

Discipline is a song by the English electronic group Throbbing Gristle.


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Further reading