Disaster Amnesiac was pretty shocked when Throbbing Gristle re-formed in the 2000’s, and fascinated to read about the subsequent falling out between Breyer P-Orridge and the rest of the group. Best not to dwell on the morbid details, though, and just listen to X-TG's The Final Report, submitted in tandem with a revision of Nico's Desert Shore, which will be reviewed later.
As I listen to the darkened tones produced by the original Illbient artists, what's striking is how the original vision remains, and, without P-Orridge in the mix, the three less flamboyant members of the group's sound move more clearly into focus.
Disaster Amnesiac realizes that Throbbing Gristle explicitly denied any interest in being a band as such, but the ways in which the members' characteristic sounds come out and interact with each other seem pretty undeniably band-like to this listener. It’s all there: Cosey's primitive trumpet and sliding non-sussed guitar sounds, Chris's evocative electronic sound landscapes, and Peter’s rhythmic intent (which seems to have come into sharper focus after time spent in Thailand). The mix is deep, giving the songs dynamic, live, rhizomatic feels. Minus the declamatory, world-weary P-Orridge rants, The Final Report is characterized by a more intimate overall mood. Their Industrial sounds: high speed rail whooshes, electronic shimmers, radio signals, jackhammer iterations, mumbled confessions, and brief melodic episodes, are all there, mixing into what amounts to a great headphone listen. As they always did, X-TG provides the listener glimpses into what sound like secret, internal dialogues. The tone, minus P-Orridge is somewhat more subdued, but no less intense.
I know that Throbbing Gristle have always been heard as noise by many, but would disagree. Listening to X-TG, it strikes me that they just wanted to make their own, personal music, with the means that they had at hand, to express their collective vision. This dynamic remains on The Final Report. Compared to the rhythm-less sheer wall of noise approaches that many have taken in TG's wake, X-TG, with their slow, dub-like repetitions (which have always been there; they never denied loving Disco, right?), move the electronic sounds in a very musical way. After all, they did use the phrase Industrial Music for Industrial People, right?