Throbbing Gristle

Part Two: The Endless Not

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Why is it in 2007 that Throbbing Gristle -- the once-feared monolith of cultural warriors from the outlaw zone -- no longer sound frightening, disturbing, or, for the most part, even interesting? Certainly the industrial music and technology they pioneered has come so far as to implode and leave behind it a trail of diehards clamoring for more, but more of what? It's true that Coil, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson's project with the late John Balance, was a far more unsettling unit, picking up from where TG left off and taking it into the black light of the void. Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti's solo and joint projects with electronic and electro-acoustic music resonated with dancefloor crowds as well as art students, and continue to move ever so carefully quietly and decidedly forward in their sonic research. Genesis P-Orridge (now "Breyer P. Orridge") has succeeded in turning himself into a living experiment at becoming a truly omnisexual being. Musically, his Psychic TV output in the '80s was rather dismal, though his collaborations with others such as Monte Cazazza, David Tibet, Diana Rogerson and others were a might compelling. But Part Two: Endless Not -- improperly using a holy Tibetan Buddhist symbol for the interconnected nature of the spiritual path and the flow of time and movement within the eternal -- is, actually, ridiculous. There is nothing remotely compelling about this reunion album except for the backing jazz fragments on "Rabbit Snare," thanks to Tutti's trumpet playing. This is the same track, however where Genesis sings "Why are you scared?" There's nothing remotely scary, disturbing or otherwise even noteworthy about the cut except its infernal length: five seconds shy of nine minutes. On "Separated" and "Above and Beyond," there's a bit of the old paranoid ambience courtesy of trumpets and echoey samples, rail-yard sonics and other detritus from the aural world that recalls the original TG, the one that appeared on 20 Jazz Funk Greats. "Greasy Spoon" too has its moments, and resembles things on Second Annual Report, but the songs are simply too rhythmic and go on for too long. "Endless Not" feels like a song from a bunch of adolescents who can't make up their mind whether they want to be Pink Floyd or the Stranglers. "After the Fall," the brief closing track, is the most moving and beautiful thing here. It not only offers a glimpse of what TG were on occasion -- of what made these gorgeous little ambient cuts so sinister in their emotional beauty -- but where they might have gone if they'd forgotten about their reputation and just made noise together.

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