Mutant Throbbing Gristle
TG Remixed, CD
 

So Throbbing Gristle are finally back it seems, with re-issues and re-mixes of their past material being released, a one-off re-union show that mysteriously had to be cancelled and downsized to a "secret gig", and even talk of a new album. But the question is: have TG ever been away?

Throbbing Gristle are probably the perfect specimen to represent the cultural phenomenon of cult bands. Ever since TG evolved out of the infamous performance art group COUM Transmissions in 1976, they've successfully managed to offend and mock established society and the so-called entertainment industry by their unfiltered display of human atrocities and their sonic frenzy. TG have only released a couple of albums before splitting up in 1981, but they've left an impressive quantity of "rare" and "live" recordings slumbering in the archives, only waiting to be released by the odd record company. The number of unofficially released TG-albums and -tapes is literally countless and interest in TG's oeuvre has not ebbed away throughout the decades. Interestingly enough, TG and their seemingly timeless concepts attract new followers even today, and in a rather ironical turn of history they've become darlings of the predominantly white, male, middle class folk who firmly believe that consuming radical off-mainstream products and art forms will make you part of a social elite.

What's the point in a TG-reunion then? Remember that TG have split up in 1981, because the members had personally and artistically drifted apart and the whole idea of "Industrial" culture had already reached a point where it had almost become a mere parody of itself. Then there's the fascinating creative output of the former TG-members' projects to consider: Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti with Carter-Tutti (formerly known as Chris and Cosey), Peter Christopherson with Coil, and cultural architect Djin (formerly known as Genesis) P. Orridge with his recently re-launched Psychic TV - what could possibly drive these people to get back together again under the monicker Throbbing Gristle? After all, to my mind TG have always been the most unlikely band to jump on the re-union bandwagon, as it embodies one of the most boring tricks of the music business to revive interest in old bands and their concepts.

Back to "Mutant Throbbing Gristle", an album that features a bunch of unusually accessible tunes from TG's quite atypical creative phase when they'd discovered the fascination of pop song structures: the "20 Jazz Funk Greats" period. The songs have been re-constructed and mutated by current electronic wizards and by one half of the TG-crew, Carter-Tutti. It feels a bit strange to see TG presented as progenitors of the contemporary electronic scene, but so be it.

A rather hypnotical version of "Persuasion", mixed by Motor, opens the album - all slow-motion, repetitive and a bit distorted, but without the bleak and deranged atmosphere of the original. "Hot on the Heels of Love" comes next: Carl Craig, a key-player in Detroit's Techno- and House-scene, has stayed quite close to the original recording, but made it more "bleepy" and danceable - he's also extended the playing time by a few minutes. "What A Day" has been dissected and re-built by Hedonastik, out comes a dub-filled frenzy with an almost hypnotizing bass-line. "United" has been turned into a real dancefloor smasher by the Two Lone Swordsmen Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood.

Now, it's interesting to hear what Carter-Tutti have made of "Hamburger Lady": their re-mix has a decidedly hypnotic effect on the listener, lots of weird effects and repetitive elements here. No wonder Simon Ratcliffe of Basement Jaxx has chosen to re-mix "Hot on the Heels of Love" (bar any vocal samples, though), as this is one of the more danceable TG-tunes. I can't find the end result very convincing, the same goes for Carl Craig's delay-drenched "re-version" of "Still Walking". The final tune "Hot Heels United", by Carter-Tutti again, mixes excerpts from "Hot on the Heels of Love" and "United" and turns out to be a slightly-above-average Techno-id stomper.

Having listened to "Mutant TG" a couple of times, I still can't see the point of this release. To my taste, none of the re-mixes achieves to come even close to the originals, so probably the way to listen to "Mutant TG" is NOT to compare it to the blueprints. But then again, who needs a dancefloor-album with a bit of TG strewn in?

(rh 08/MMIV)

Label: Novamute
 
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Throbbing Gristle's mutant debutant