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26 November 2010

Take it Sleazy

On Wednesday night, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson died. Here’s a nice balanced obit.

I’m not writing as a particular fan of his work. (He was most definitely a Dionysian but after a brief fling with industrial music in high school, I’ve mostly been on the side of Apollo.) I do offer much respect though, both for his body of work and as a lifer in pop (sub)cultures. (More on lifers from yesterday’s blog.)

Christopherson was a co-founder of Throbbing Gristle, partner of the amazing graphic design studio Hipgnosis, and a video director for artists as likely as Sepultura and Nine Inch Nails — and as unlikely as Yes.

Naw, you say? But no, totally, he made this video for YES:

That he was able to bring his own vision to projects like this, projects that were quite unlike his own output, is the greatest testament to his gift as a creator. His collaborators recognized this. Listen below to one of the first recordings of Christopherson’s Coil project. The title of the song “How to Destroy Angels” has recently been adopted by NIN’s Trent Reznor for a new musical project he started with his wife Mariqueen Maandig.

While some of the obituaries that have come out in the wake of his death seem to be masking the occasional sleaziness of his life, I like how his own site, Threshold House aka is considerably less circumspect. Ergo this message serves as the current homepage:

I’ll close with a song by one of his more well known post-TG groups, Psychic TV. Therein, I can hear the bits of Sleazy’s cultural output that I do take as an inspiration. While he will be remembered as an icon of industrial music, a culture primarily understood for its darkness, its transgression, its harshness, the real wonder of his output is that he could effortlessly display how, within darkness, there was often a certain light.

UPDATED NOVEMBER 29, 2010: I’d be remiss in remembering Sleazy if I did not point you toward this collection of tributes collated by my friend Brandon over at Stereogum. Best of all, the piece included this quasi-Buddhist quote from the man himself (via The Quietus).

“We are all only temporary curators of our present bodies, which will all decay, sooner or later. In a hundred years or so ALL the humans currently alive will have died. I take great comfort in knowing, with certainty, that thing that makes us special, able to enrich our own lives and those of others, will not cease when our bodies do, but will be just starting and new (and hopefully even better) adventure… If we don’t get to meet in this Life, maybe in the next you can buy me a beer!”

Call me a hippie for taking great pleasure in that quote. Go ahead. Try it.

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis

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