It’s astonishing how much Throbbing Gristle can claim credit for. Apart from having pioneered and named the industrial music movement, their fingerprints are all over EDM, and there’s hardly a subgenre of noise music that doesn’t owe them a tribute. Really, TG were basically industrial and noise’s Beatles, Stones, and Who all in one, and in their five years of existence (the first time, that is—they reunited in the oughts for another go-‘round to collect their overdue accolades and disturb the peace anew) they explored musics and aesthetic strategies so extreme as to make punk look like a conservative movement.
In May of 1981, before they ended their first incarnation to split into Psychic TV and Chris & Cosey, Throbbing Gristle played a final and brutal show at the Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. There was a Raymond Pettibon flier, and SF’s notorious sludge progenitors Flipper were the openers. A good deal of documentia survives of the show— it was videotaped by Target Video, the audio was released on the LP Mission of Dead Souls, and the complete video was included in the 7-DVD set TGV.
The Target footage includes work like the excellent “Guts on the Floor” and “Vision and Voice,” neither of which turn up elsewhere in TG’s discography. Later on, it also features 20 Jazz Funk Greats’ “Persuasion,” and the intense piece that became a sort of signature for the band, “Discipline.” That song is loosely structured, and largely consists of noise improvised over a electronic pulse that mimics a martial rhythm, while singer Genesis P-Orridge chants “We need some discipline in here.” Some recorded versions of the song have lasted nearly a half hour. This one is about twelve minutes, but it’s truncated to three minutes on Mission.