Throbbing Gristle - Heathen Earth

Heathen Earth, for me TGs finest moment is a studio album recorded in front of a studio audience and filmed. The purpose to capture the live sound of TG. And with the better production afforded to them by the studio set-up, the power and ability of the group really does shine through. Perhaps less confrontational than there early recordings but without doubt more sinister. The subtle effects and manipulations combined with Genesis’s possessed vocals makes this for me there most rounded and realised release. The album has no track titles and flows almost seamlessly into one drifting unstoppable form. Beginning with distorted cornet and electronics but fast moving into a scathing guitar drive complemented by driving beats and sinister lyrics from Genesis. “Can the world be as sad as it seems?” asks he asks as Coseys guitar threatens to take you to the dark side of the moon (and not in a pink Floyd kinda way). The electronic treatments and distortions kept wonderfully in check by Christopherson and Carter, this is controlled deliberate force of will. Non musician like it may be but there’s no denying the compositional style and power. The lyrics more into a story about fate revolving about the number 23 (seen on the front cover) and a ship captain who’s ship sinks with the loss of all hands on the 23rd day of the month after 23 years of service. The third track is more electronic sounding with sampled breathing samples and weird synth scrapes and scratches. Then come Gen tour de force of TG propaganda “The way you live structure and market what you do should be as well thought out as a government coupe, it’s a campaign it has nothing to do with art”. And with that the track slips into another rhythm driven synth guitar grind. Track four is a little less engaging than the previous tracks. Know live as the whistle song, due to presence of an apathetic whistle through a large part of the track. The electronics are more present here than any other track and create a downbeat dilapidated feel to the song. In contrast track five is quite a upbeat in tempo with carters trademark keyboard style mixing with delicate synth distortions this goes on perhaps a bit to long. But TG being TG this may be intentional, to lull the listener into a false sense of security for the next track which is more than a little unnerving. Made up of distorted vocal samples of a man and a young girl. It seems like the man is trying to convince the girl to go with him for some indecent reason. The man becomes more and more desperate in the end offering to pay the girl for what ever service he requires. It echoes the tape collage collections that Whitehouse would later use of rape victims and prostitutes recounting there experiences. Although TGs approach is infinitely more chilling. Track seven is a curious one with a jarring metallic beat bass combination led by more dissonant cornet playing from Cosey or Sleazy. This track has a lyric that Gen now hates that was suggested by Christopherson to give the track a “Message”. The repeated “don’t do as your told!!, Do as you think” does sound a little trite compared to the usually subtle and non preachy delivery. The album ends with a sample of a relaxation tape inviting us to feel refreshed and alert. A cool ending. The CD version comes with the adrenalin/subhuman 72 single tracks. Adrenalin being a fast passed electro track, with good production and vocals from Gen. Subhuman is a mechanised rant against a groups of gypsy’s that had camped up behind TGs Hackney residence. Angry.