Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review :: Throbbing Gristle :: The Second Annual Report

So a band called The Death Factory was formed on exactly September 3rd, 1975.  Two years later, they issued their second annual report under a different name, Throbbing Gristle, as a generous token of what's been cooking.  A sort of "Hey, I wonder what the Death Factory has been up to all this time."  Well, Mom, we've been isolated in a concrete hell-hole decorated with bullet-hole disco-rays and rat shit for two years, obsessing over long-gone Nazi encampments and inventing what some ass pigeonholes as industrial music down the road for journalistic innovation and ease.  Cue elemental worry masked by disapproving looks.

Well, the long-gone Nazi encampments ring true here, but this is no Joy Division.  A recent series of Throbbing Gristle reissues by the original Industrial Records place this debut comfortably alongside the rash of 1970s reissues by labels like 4 Men With Beards and Bureau B.  The Internet is well-seeded with literature about this landmark of drone and noise, but in this collector-nerd's experience, I can't help but draw direct comparison to six-years-previous German innovators Cluster, or a completely sequencer-less Tangerine Dream.  Even those guitar-squalls on "Slug Bait" sound like pristine German engineering racing by on the Autobahn.

The fixation continues on "Zyclon B Zombie," an early single referencing the cyanide gas used in the Holocaust.  Here, this track spans the entire second side, the title making it much more harrowing than otherwise suggested.  I like to internally rename it "Zombie Curiously Gazing Over City-Scape," so I can share it enthusiastically with the family.  It's a bubbling, belching 20-minute outcropping at red dusk, levitating with tape-samples perfect for TV dinners and staining the carpet.

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