"These people are the wreckers of civilisation", exclaimed the Conservative Member of Parliament Nicholas Fairbairn in 1976.His outburst was meant to describe four artists and musicians: Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter Christopherson and Chris Carter-members of the seminal band Throbbing Gristle. Throbbing Gristle are widely lauded as the band thatinvented industrial music, and their influence can be observed across today's musical landscape: from house and techno toindustrial death metal. Wherever experimental electronic music is being made, Throbbing Gristle's influence can be felt. From the foreword by Jon Savage: "Wreckers of Civilisation recalls a time which, despite volumes of print, remains occluded,obdurate, even intimidating: that moment before the conservative reconstruction. To be awake in London in the late 1970s was to be plunged into turmoil: externally manifest in riot, internally within various forms of damage and depression and, if one felt brave or driven, extreme aesthetics.
Throbbing Gristle's work marks the furthest reaches of that impulse: even more so than punk, they plunged into a technological and personal examination of the dark side-the forbidden, the taboo, the dystopian future on the doorstep. Today this might seem like science fiction or deliberate shock tactics, but then it seemed like reportage,front line dispatches from a convulsed country." Reprinted nearly two decades after its original release, the book coincides with Hull-the city in northern England from which Throbbing Gristle hail-being named UK City of Culture. For perhaps the first time, the eyes of the world will be trained not just on Hull, but on its most controversial cultural provocateurs.
Simon Ford is a freelance writer and art historian. He was previously Research Associate in Craft and Design and Curator of the Design Council Slide Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University, as well as being a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He received his PhD in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2000. He is the author of Wreckers of Civilisation: The Story of COUM Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle (1999, 2017, Black Dog Publishing) and Hip Priest: The Story of Mark E. Smith and The Fall (2003, Quartet). His most recent book is The Situationist International: A User's Guide (2006, Black Dog).