Fight The Radio With Throbbing Gristle And Other Helpful Antidotes


I don’t hate all popular music, but you could be fooled if I told you my opinion of the radio, which plays the safest, blandest stuff it can find. And in the wake of the Disney blitzkrieg of teen pop, John Mayer’s ubiquity, and Brian Eno’s newfound normalcy, stuff can get pretty bland.  One needs an antidote to this, and desperate times call for desperate measures.  Therefore, I present to you this list of the strongest alternative to the radio that there is.  


Throbbing Gristle- The Second Annual Report Of Throbbing Gristle:  This record is the first the world ever heard of industrial music.  It sounds absolutely nothing like Nine Inch Nails, to say the least.  Lyrically it deals with eating fetuses and testicles (Slug Bait), and the music is sludge without rock (especially the studio version of Maggot Death).  It drones on and on without actually playing any notes, simply generating painfully churning noise.  Highly recommended and, the perfect thing to play after hearing John Mayer bitch about the world not changing.


Suicide-Suicide: The most disturbing record ever recorded, Suicide’s first album is a bunch of cheap synthesizers and drum machines attempting to play rock and roll, which turns out not being comedic but utterly frightening; think Elvis Presley and the Stooges making a soundtrack for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. If musically it’s unsettling, Alan Vega’s breathless delivery and horror films screams don’t make the atmosphere calmer.  Vega adds a sense of urgency to Martin Rev’s electronics, and in “Frankie Teardrop”, the duo created a masterful ten-minute piece that is the scariest piece of music ever recorded.  The perfect thing to play after the Jonas Brothers numb your brain.


Faust-Faust: Not as deliberately noisy as some of the other stuff on this list, Faust’s first record consists of three tracks, all over eight minutes, but it is one of the most fractured and fast-paced recordings ever, matched only by Faust’s third record, The Faust Tapes.  And it does have its noisy moments, including the first forty-five seconds of “Why Don’t You Eat Carrots?”, featuring the Beatles and the Stones lost in a haze of feedback and distortion.  If krautrock often tends towards drones and repetition, Faust simply did anything they wanted to do.  Perfect to play after you realize that every song on the radio sounds exactly the same.


Mars & DNA- John Gavanti: It doesn’t seem like Sumner Crane, Mark Cunningham, Ikue Mori, Don Burg, Arto Lindsay, and Duncan Lindsay are trying to make a noise record; in fact, this is an adaptation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  But it meanders along so tunelessly, it uses trash cans as percussion (at the same time as Einsturzende Neubauten started up), and Crane’s vocals are more bizarre than Beefheart or David Thomas.  Surreal in that it seems somewhat operatic, but it’s done in such a bizarre way it calls to mind the absurd yet ultra-realistic images of Dali and Magritte.  Perfect to play when Faust doesn’t work.


Whitehouse-Erector: If all else fails, put this on.  Whitehouse’s third record is the farthest noise music has ever gone; essentially, the twenty-six minute, four song album is composed of tinnitus inducing tones and William Bennett’s screaming.  There is barely a sound or a moment on the album that does not cause actual, physical pain, but the edge has to go to Bennett’s first vocal on the title track; after a few minutes of a synthesizer that sounds like a buzzsaw, he incomprehensibly screams “ERECTOR!” and high pitched feedback squeals and wreaks havoc with your brain waves.  Next to this, Metal Machine Music is for elevators.  Merzbow is New Age music.  Throbbing Gristle is rock and roll.  Erector is a noxious, suffocating album and the purest expression of noise music I know, which means it’s perfectly realized.  The perfect thing for really any problem you have with the blandness popular music; even a glance at the song titles (Erector, Shitfun, Socratisation Day, Avisodomy) will remove any unpleasant aftereffects from the radio.


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