Throbbing Gristle came to be in 1975 as the musical arm of the COUM Transmissions performance troupe. They courted controversy throughout their existence, frequently labelled as “obscene” in the press. Mutant Throbbing Gristle, then, is an experimental reinterpretation of experimental music. Sounds interesting, right?
“Some people copy about why we are important from lots of famous people” states the inner sleeve (even the packaging is leftfield). The first track Persuasion is decisively underwhelming, consisting of a dubbed drum loop, fuzzy, repeated bass and little else. It would score a club scene in Blade 3 admirably, but frankly sounds far too minimal to provide anything more than a passing distraction. Lasting five excruciating minutes, it is two minutes too long.
Throbbing Gristle originally enjoyed total artistic freedom thanks to the fact that they set up and ran their own label. The reworking, however, would appear to be aimed squarely at a generation of clubbers, and may well be arriving five years too late considering the revival of live instruments throughout the dance community. Throbbing Gristle tracks were like Kraftwerk going beyond quirky and into the realms of disconcerting experimentalism. This release seems to miss the point to a degree, and the presence of club beats, whilst adding mainstream appeal, cancel out the initial purpose of the music.
Carl Craig‘s re-version of Hot On The Heels Of Love is certainly more engaging than Persuasion, sounding a little like a depressed Royksopp. At nine minutes, however, it too overstays its welcome by a long shot. What A Day, like the quarter of an hour already passed, is a filthy drum loop accompanied by various samples repeated ad infinitum.
United is the first significant vocal track on offer, and promises to redeem the collection as a whole. It sounds utterly modern (one suspects that this is not entirely down to the remixing process), and suggests that Throbbing Gristle were, indeed, ahead of their time.
Hamburger Lady becomes the perfect David Lynch theme, which is fine if you like that sort of thing, whilst Ratcliffe‘s interpretation of Hot On The Heels Of Love is admirable in a Modjo sort of way, but is hardly the art-house controversy we might expect.
In case you hadn’t guessed by now, Mutant Throbbing Gristle is strictly a fans-only venture. The modern remixes certainly offer a more accessible Gristle at times, but there is nothing here to get particularly excited about.