Throbbing Gristle grew evolved from the performance art group COUM Transmissions, a group of performers centered around Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti. The final performance of COUM Transmissions in 1976 was the debut of Throbbing Gristle.
Throbbing Gristle's confrontational live performances and use of often disturbing imagery, including pornography
and photographs of Nazi concentration camps, gave the group a notorious reputation. However the group always maintained that their mission was to challenge and explore the darker and obsessive sides of the human condition rather than to make attractive music. Throbbing Gristle pioneered the use of pre-recorded tape-based 'samples', and made extensive use of special effects to produce a distinctive, highly distorted background, usually accompanied by lyrics or spoken-word performances by Cosey Fanni Tutti or Genesis P-Orridge. Though they asserted they wanted to provoke their audience into thinking for themselves rather than pushing any specific agenda (as evidenced by the song "Don't Do As You're Told, Do As You Think" on Heathen Earth), Throbbing Gristle also frequently associated with the anarchist punk scene. They even appeared on the infamous Crass pamphlet Toxic Grafity, with a condensation of their own propaganda parody series, Industrial News.
In 1977 they released their debut single United/Zyklon B Zombie, followed by an album, Second Annual Report. Although pressed in a limited initial run of 786 copies on the band's own Industrial Records label, it was later re-released due to high demand on Mute records, however this later release was reversed with all tracks playing backwards and in reverse order. This was followed by a series of albums, singles and live performances over a four year period.
On 29 May 1981, Throbbing Gristle performed at the Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco, California, USA. This concert marked the end of the group and its mission. As Cosey succinctly put it, "TG broke up because me and Gen broke up".
Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson went on to form Psychic TV, whilst Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter continued to record together under the names of Chris and Cosey and Creative Technology Institute. Christopherson later went on to become half of the band Coil with his partner and fellow Psychic TV member, the late John Balance. Meanwhile, Gen (now known as Genesis Breyer P-Orridge) subsequently formed Thee Majesty and PTV3 with the help of his wife, Jacqueline "Jaye" Breyer.
In 2004, Throbbing Gristle reunited for a brief while to record and release the limited album TG Now. On April 2, 2007, TG released the album Part Two which the group had finished recording in Berlin. With the exception of the limited release TG Now, it was their first studio album in 25 years. It was originally set to be released by Mute in September 2006 but was delayed for unknown reasons.
In March 2007 Side-Line announced Part Two's final release date, adding that a string of special live events would take place in 2007.
A 7-disc DVD set, titled TGV, is currently available for preorder. The set contains old and new footage of the band. "TGV" comes packaged in a deluxe box with a 64-page book, all designed by Peter Christopherson.
Throbbing Gristle are currently recording a new album based on their interpretation of Nico's album Desertshore.
Throbbing Gristle are slated to appear at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on the last day, Sunday, April 19.
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