Friday, June 22, 2007
The legendary Throbbing Gristle have a new studio album out. It is their first studio work in nearly thirty years and it is getting mostly very positive reviews. There was a period in my early twenties when Throbbing Gristle were among my favorite bands but I haven't been able to listen to them in years and am wondering whether or not I will get the new album.
It is funny that while my taste in films has perhaps gotten more and more extreme, I have found that my likes in literature, painting and especially music have really mellowed out. At any particular day in my early to mid twenties you could have found me listening to bands such as Throbbing Gristle, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Diamanda Galas or The Swans while reading something like the most abstract cut up work of Williams Burroughs.
I was really obsessed with artists who were really willing to push a form to its furthest extremes and I was more than willing to take their journey with them.
Looking back at my early twenties I now realize how depressed and confused I was much of the time and my taste in music and art definitely reflected that. I loved and admired so many of those people though like Lydia Lunch, Genesis P. Orridge, Diamanda Galas and Brion Gysin. I think that their extreme and at times extremely cynical world visions probably helped me get through a most sticky time period, even if at the same time I was letting them add to it.
I'm in a bit of a weird mood today which I guess is why I am writing this. I listened to some samples of the new Throbbing Gristle this morning and I must admit that it sounds very good but I just don't think that I have it in me anymore to give myself over to it.
I remember once during my Freshman year of college I played part of Throbbing Gristle's first album for a girlfriend and she started sobbing. It really shook her up and she was upset for days after. I had never seen music or art that had that kind of an effect on somebody and it made a big impression on me. She asked me several times after that how I could listen to it and made me promise to not play it while she was around anymore.
It is to Throbbing Gristle's credit as artists that they could cause such a disturbing reaction in someone but it is hard for me to imagine being able to enclose myself in that kind of art anymore. I have the utmost respect for artists like Throbbing Gristle, Lydia Lunch, Michael Gira or anyone who is willing to push a medium to its furthest extremes no matter the cost but I just can't follow it anymore.
I'm not sure why my tastes in film haven't mellowed but a filmmaker like Gaspar Noe, who could be called the cinematic equivalent of a band like Throbbing Gristle, remains a favorite. Maybe it has something to do with things that I connect to a certain period of my life, I don't know.
I hate the word mellowing and I certainly hate to use it in relation to myself. It represents a defeat of sorts, a sign that I am not willing to go as far as I used to. I suppose it is natural but occasionally I have to pull out something like Teenage Jesus or Throbbing Gristle to remind me that art doesn't always have to be safe and pleasant. There are, and have always been, certain artists who are willing to go and explore the darkest aspects of human nature. Our society needs them and they are to be held in the highest of esteem for their courage and willingness to go to these places...but for the most part it is a journey that I am unable to take these days.
I might get the new Throbbing Gristle as I am curious to hear it but I doubt that I will play it much. Their return should be celebrated though as our modern culture is overly saturated by safe art and artists who skirt over dark terrains. Throbbing Gristle will not ever be a safe band skirting over anything, their home is deep inside the very dark places most artists wouldn't even consider going near. I wish them luck in their ongoing journey even though it is one I can't continue with them.