From the starting point of COUM Transmissions, a performance art group centred around Genesis P Orridge and the stripper Cosey Fanni Tutti, a notorious history and reputation for confrontation, experimentation and invention was born, this would be fleshed out through COUM’s art anticks, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV’s music and a host of other projects including Thee Temple ov Pyschick Youth, a world wide network of like minded individuals.
COUM earned notoriety with a headlining grabbing show at the ICA, called Prostitution, this involved nude photographs of Cosy and shocking performance art from Genesis.
Always looking at new mediums to further develop their ideas, COUM transformed into Throbbing Gristle and set up Industrial Records. Now joined by Chris Carter and Peter Christopherson, Throbbing Gristle’s music was avant garde and experimental, they made use of samples, pre-recorded tapes and the cut up techniques of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin. Their performances would include pornographic imagery and photographs of Nazi concentration camps, the band would dress in military uniforms and make visits to Auschwitz and the Spahn Ranch. Their mission was to challenge and explore the darker and obsessive sides of the human condition and they would produce a body of work that stradled the art world and music industry including composing music for the Derek Jarmen film ‘In the Shadow of the Sun’.
Initial releases included –
The Second Annual Report (1977)
D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle (1978)
20 Jazz Funk Greats (1979)
Heathen Earth (1980)
Genesis P Orridge and Peter Christopherson went on to form Psychic TV with Alex Ferguson of Alternative TV and Monte Cazazza an American performance artist. Pyschic TV mixed catchy pop tunes, exotic percussive instruments, psychedelic sounds with experimentation in music and video art, ‘Force the hand of chance’, the first lp, included Marc Almond’s voice on Guiltless and ’Stollen Kisses’. The Second lp ‘Dreams less sweet’ included choral and orchestral elements with Tibetan thigh bones and singing bowls and made great use of the Zuccarelli Holophonic recording technique to deliver 3D atmospheric and unsettling sounds within the music. Physchic TV went through many changes and explored different music genres before Genesis P Orridge’s self imposed exile with his family after a video he had created was shown on the Channel 4 TV programme Dispatches. The programme, now discredited, presented the material as Satanic ritual abuse and was followed by a Police raid on the P. Orridge house, Genesis had already been in trouble with the law for sending obscene postcards, a picture of Buckingham Palace with a bottom superimposed on it.
After Throbbing Gristle, Cosy Fanny Tutti teamed up with Chris Carter to form Chris and Cosy and signed to Rough Trade. Peter Christopherson moved on from Psychic TV to form Coil with the late John Balance.
In 2004 Throbbing Gristle reformed, performing at All Tomorrows Parties and releasing a retrospective box set and book on their history and ideas, further material and new releases would follow.