Reform! Reform! Reform! Not since the days of Martin Luther have the constant calls for reformation come with such repeated insistence. If you were somebody once . . . you can be somebody again! The Police? No, good God, help me, please! Roxy Music? Nein, herr Ferry, nein! Gang Of Four? Not today, thank you.
So, quite why Throbbing Gristle have pitched their tent once again is, frankly, beyond me. The Throbs, as absolutely no one whatsoever referred to them back then, really have to be one of the very last going concerns not going anymore that you ever thought likely to get going again. I mean, once you’ve defined a genre, where else is there to go?
To be fair, if you’ve got one Throbbing Gristle LP, you’ve got them all, haven’t you? The first one was the best – as is often the case in radical sound collective compilation exercises - & probably still is. So, if you’ve already own & cherish “Second Annual Report” – what need have you to obtain “Part Two: The Endless Not”?
Do they still flirt with fascism? Are they still obsessed with sex? Do they still have an unhealthy fascination with concentration camp humour?
One thing is for sure: they have Genesis P Orridge, Chris Carter, Sleazy Christopherson & Cosey Fanni Tutti all under one recording studio roof. Can’t say fairer than that.
“Part Two: Endless Not” (Mute) “Vow Of Silence” – 6.57 “Rabbit Snare” – 8.51 “Separated” – 4.46 “Almost A Kiss” – 6.43 “Greasy Spoon” – 9.27 “Lyre Liar” – 7.47 “Above The Below” – 4.27 “Endless Not” – 7.57 “The Worm Wants Its Turn” – 5.46 “After The Fall” – 4.02
On reflection, the most pertinent observation I can offer when comparing the two is not the differences between “Second Annual Report” & “Part Two: Endless Not” per se – but the differences between the climates in which both were created. During the 30-years that separate these two works of art - & let’s make one thing perfectly clear – both were intended to be viewed as works of art – said climates have altered beyond recognition – whist, somehow, perversely – remaining exactly the same. Much as Led Zeppelin predicted, all those years ago! Elder statesmen & women may continue to imply that ‘things aren’t as good as they were back in the good old days’ – but - & it’s a fucking great 10 ft tall BUT – they are talking absolute bollocks. There were no halcyon days. It’s all about generational signifiers.
Content wise, compared to “Second Annual Report”, “Part Two: Endless Not” is a million miles from the original epicentre. This is alternative music created by people in their 50s, after all - and by its very nature, what was once groundbreaking, innovative & dangerous, is now easy to condemn as tepid, vacuous & safe by anyone currently dancing anywhere near the cutting edge. Such is the nature of experimentation.
The paranoid, edgy gear – “Vow Of Silence”, “Separated”, “Greasy Spoon” – is excellent. I genuinely dig the low-slung cut of these jibs - the digi-dub-wise gait of the production values – the attempts to move things forward - but does “Part Two: Endless Not” really sound like a Throbbing Gristle record?
“Ah ha, Mr Orridge, what we have here is someone else’s history!”
Guy Debored – tMx 29 – 04/07