Throbbing Gristle - Heathen Earth
It is somewhat futile to claim one album is more essential than another when discussing a band as prolific and indispensable as Throbbing Gristle. Every release from their initial period of activity, (1976-1981), plays a fundamental role in shaping the monolithic and well deserved reputation of the band. However, here at the shop we feel there is a pretty strong case to consider the bands 1980 “live” album Heathen Earth as their essential work.
Recorded in front of a small-invite only audience at their own Industrial Records Studio on February 16 1980, Heathen Earth reflects a group at the height of their powers. Throbbing Gristle had evolved into a truly masterful musical unit having shed the need to agitate and infuriate their audience with sonic imagery of the darker side of humanity. Heathen Earth seems to sew together all the various aspects of the group and in doing so, reflects a cohesion and confidence that is the product of total focus and dedication to the cause as TG. We hear the gamut on this record from the harshness and confrontational nature of Second Annual Report, the disjointed yet atmospheric work on D.O.A and the more structured / rhythmic period reflected on 20 Jazz Funk Greats. And keep in mind, this was achieved without any post production and was executed in real time. There is a simplicity to their sound that has been imitated by many but with little to no success. Throbbing Gristle seemed to invent a new language with each one of their releases and Heathen Earth is no different. They had successfully found the middle ground where premeditation meets immediacy, where technology meets humanism. A reflection of a band that clearly spent serious amounts of time in the studio but could just as easily execute their ideas in a live setting. From start to finish this record is perfect.
As the group had coined the term “Industrial” and applied it to music for the first time, Heathen Earth shows that it is not just the machinery of the industrial nature that the term refers to, but the focus and efficiency of the assembly worker as well. Throbbing Gristle was an assembly line of brutality, individuality, and all that is extreme. This intention had never come across so clear as it did with Heathen Earth. (Adam)
Check out a track here.