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Throbbing Gristle - TG24 (Industrial Records/Mute)

I'm not sure if there's any point in reviewing this release, if you're the kind of person who'd like a box-set featuring 24 hours of live recordings by a band, you're going to be fully aware of it and probably had an advance booking on the set before it was released. If you don't know who or what Throbbing Gristle is, then you've got some work to do, but "TG24" is not the place to start. But, be that as it may, this is as good an opportunity to introduce the latter group to the basics of TG.

Throbbing Gristle was possibly the most influential electronic act ever, in many ways more important than Kraftwerk. Formed in 1975 as a development of the extreme performance art group, Coum Transmissions, TG - Genesis P Orridge, Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Peter Christopherson - were uncompromisingly confrontational and extreme. Unlike many who were experimenting with synthesisers to make music, TG was experimenting with machinery to make some of the ugliest noises imaginable. The fact that, over the years, they managed to make some of the most influential music of all time was almost incidental.

TG's sampling methods and audio manipulation techniques owed as much to the Merry Pranksters as to any anything coming Germany. But they developed new methods of doing things themselves, including tape loops and rudimentary sampling, and helped to lay the foundations of all modern electronic music. The way they organised things is as important. They were stridently independent and formed their own record label, Industrial Records, to release their own recordings and those of a number of kindred spirits, such as Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, Clock DVA and William S Burroughs. Much of the label's material was released on cassette through the post by the band and they helped create the DIY culture that was such a part of punk.

TG's influence continued after the band split in the early '80s, with Genesis forming Psychic TV, the band that introduced the word rave and the phrase acid house to the UK dance scene, as well as more hugely influential music, Chris and Cosey became, well, Chris and Cosey and also released music that had a seminal influence, particularly the much sampled "Trance" album, while Peter Christopherson, following a period in Psychic TV, went on to form Coil and his work made its mark on alternative electronic music the world over, from Foetus to Nine Inch Nails. The list of people all four have worked with over the years is extensive and virtually a who's who of electronic music.

TG24 is an audio record of the band, featuring recordings of shows from 1976-80. It's not easy listening by any stretch of the imagination; some of it is simply noise. But there are some absolute gems on it as well, the one-hour promo sample released by Mute includes a fabulously sleazy version of 'Persuasion' and the raw aggression of 'Five knuckle shuffle' with Gen venomously spitting out the lyrics. It's well worth it if you're a big Throbbing Gristle fan, but if you're a newbie, you're probably best off waiting for the upcoming Mute TG compilation that will serve as a better introduction. Then you can think about investing in this.

Donnacha DeLong

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