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Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson: Two Personal Tributes
The Quietus , November 30th, 2010 09:52

Quietus writer Jonny Mugwump and Mute Records' Paul A Taylor pay tribute to Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson, who died last week

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"Don't worry, I'm fine, I think :-) but remember 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! ,-)"
Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson writing in the Quietus comments section, July 31st 2010

Details and photographs of Sleazy's funeral in Thailand can be found on Chris Carter's Twitter

A Personal Appreciation, by Jonny Mugwump

NB- this is not a career overview (you would need a book)… just some notes written from the heart about a remarkable artist who changed my life and who i never met.

The death of your father, the death of your mother
Is something you prepare for
All your life
All your life
(Coil, Broccoli)

I find it incomprehensible to be writing these words tonight. This morning I learnt of the sudden death of Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson.

"Our dearest beautiful Sleazy left this mortal coil as he slept in peace last night. Words cannot express our grief."
(Chris and Cosey on Twitter, 25/11/10)

It's a testament to the incomparable power of this individual that you could probably write a book about the alchemical value of his life- the unrelenting assault on Occidental reality and the straitjackets that society place on perception, feeling and existence before exploring the music he created. The enormity of his artistic legacy in sound and vision is beyond comparison but these are merely tendrils of a bigger 'project' which was to live and communicate life beyond limits. Sleazy's art is this way because quite clearly, HE was this way.

His artistic life runs (excluding remixes and countless collaborations) as a designer then partner at Hipgnosis, through meeting COUM and the formation of Throbbing Gristle with the earliest experiments in sampling, to meeting Geoff Rushton (Jhonn Balance) and co-founding Psychic TV to the Coil - the greater part of his life's work and then (post Balance's tragic passing) beyond to Threshold HouseBoys' Choir, a reactivated Throbbing Gristle, Soisong (with Ivan Pavlov aka CoH) and in only the last month, the mouth-watering prospect of X-TG (being Sleazy with Chris and Cosey after Genesis unexpectedly walked off the tour). Any one aspect of those is wondrous enough really - to make sense of them all, quite frankly, is near impossible.

In 1977 Throbbing Gristle (off the back of the COUM exhibition Prostitution where TG debuted) were branded "wreckers of civilisation" by Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn. A deep truth is belied by the use of the word "civilisation". This was of course the peak of punk - an artistic year zero (or so we're told by the middle-aged journalists who still drearily monopolise the media) that TG are often associated with (or at least the more anarcho end of things). Punk, however, was a social menace. Civilisation is a much more ambitious target with a greatly vaster reach. Civilisation implies not just society but the whole concept and history of society. Transgressive sex, ritual magick, the occult - all these things (sometimes lurking in TG and fully unleashed in Coil) stand outside of temporality as defined by conventional Christianity (a temporality that unnecessarily defines Western culture).

"Sometimes those issues are serious, deep or dark... but darkness, you know, that doesn't necessarily mean anything bad..."
(Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson)

By the summer of 1995 I was a real mess - burnt out feeling the death throes of rave and jungle - feeling vibrancy and revolt collapse into a black hole as the music took on Burroughs' junky cold: rigor mortis infected the break - the curvature of the spine snapping shut into his patented hydraulic jack - the cold was inside: everyone and everywhere. I ran away from my life, from everything and everyone, and took refuge with my grandmother in the middle of a rural nowhere. My last purchase, as yet unopened, was still in my bag - Kevin Martin's Macro Dub Infection compilation. That very first night, after my nan went to bed, I sat still outside in shocked relief. Bathing in starlight, hyper-alert to the teeming life around me I pressed play. In 30 minutes my life would never be the same again.

'The Hills Are Alive' by Coil. I have never heard anything so unhinged in my whole life. It feels literally insane. In its sparse acid/techno entrenched grooves lurks a repetition, a kink, so peculiar as to be outright malignant. You can hear it obsessively rocking backwards and forwards - out of almost nothing a palpable and decidedly sinister spirit. This was just a little too fucking weird to fall in love, but that came soon after.

I fell in to Coil just as they themselves were stretched and exhausted beyond limits, finding the courage and maturity to surrender to the lunar drift - giving in to the tides and unfolding into a kind of ferocious peace (their influence on Boards of Canada and subsequent pastoral electronics is ocean-vast). A Thousand Lights in a Blackened Room, Astral Disaster, Musick to Play in the Dark Volumes 1 & 2, Moon's Milk (in Four Phases), The Remote Viewer and countless limited editions, rarities and collaborations. A staggering, breathtaking run of uneasy sublime art in just four-years.

Their ability to invoke the unseen, their sidereal sonic scrying - these were the elements that awoke something in me that had become forgotten about, buried and avoided. Burroughs talks of the truth as being that which you have been looking for but eventually find you knew all along. Coil reconnected me with countless truths. It's not that the subject matter was entirely unique to Coil - god knows the history of contemporary music is littered with pseudo-Satanists and mediums but their approach and deployment of such things was entirely their own. Peter Christopherson and Jhonn Balance worked, created and lived without recourse to cliché.

They could move from heartbreaking tenderness to outright sinister proclamation and terrifying shock sometimes in the space of the same song. Their sudden and exhausting commitment to live performance over the last three years of their existence the results were like nothing seen before - an orgiastic overload of light and sound - intense and incomparable. This was clearly emotionally and physically taxing and still they carried on regardless - the need to communicate tantamount, their commitment to themselves and their beliefs relentless. And Coil, finally, if anything was a love story between these two men.

Through Industrial Records, through Eskaton and Threshold HouseBoys' Choir, through the internet and mail order, TG, Coil et al always found a way of transmitting information - finding their like-minds. It should be the foundation for everybody but is actually too much the rarity. Circumnavigate the mainstream whilst retaining those links - keeping the name alive but making you work (just a little) to find the stuff. It's there if you want it.

What you encounter with Peter Christopherson - in TG, Coil and beyond - is an approach to art and the art of living that is entirely and inherently serious, focussed and on a mission (no matter how occasionally maniacal or uncontrolled that mission might sometimes be). But this is not to say that all of this has been carried out without humour, which is an entirely different thing.

It's heartbreaking to wake up in a world without Sleazy - without Throbbing Gristle, Coil or Threshold House Boys Choir. Because few artists no matter how talented will ever commit themselves so completely to a life of wrecking civilisation. The ability to communicate insight is a rare enough thing of beauty anyway. However, to act as a conduit for such ideas and emotions that are so alien to the mainstream and to transmit them with such grace, intelligence, eloquence and love under circumstances that are never easy and for such a long period of time now, well it's unthinkable to accept that, on this plane anyway, this story has come to an end.

"It's difficult to talk about one's personal beliefs but there are things that are... well, it's not just random and death is not the end... everybody thinks these things are outside ourselves or that church is something that is over there on the hill and you have to do what they say, but they're not - it's inside and you just have to listen and it becomes obvious."

A tribute by Paul A Taylor of Mute Records

Peter Christopherson, thank you.

In 1984 I was ushered over to my friend RD's house to listen to his new records from his trip to Rhyl to find new exotic tunes to listen to. The one he was most excited about was The Second Annual Report by Throbbing Gristle, an album he'd been searching for, but had never heard an utterance of music by.

I, as a 15 year old nerdy music aficionado, who knew everything about music, had never heard of them. We sat in his bedroom and listened to it together for the first time. It blew our fucking minds, a pivotal life changing moment, forever etched in my tiny mind. One year later, I started going out with young Abigail, Abigail had a step father who is was seriously into music in that knew everything, even more than my nerdy music self... who knew everything.

He played me two albums by Psychic TV, whom i'd never heard of, called 'dreams less sweet' and 'force the hand of chance'. unbelievably beautiful, both, but with this tremendous undercurrent of unease.

A pivotal life changing moment, forever etched in my tiny mind.

Four years later I started working at Mute, whom to my delight, looked after the catalogue of Throbbing Gristle. In my early days of working there, Daniel Miller asked me to call Peter and Jess to see if Peter would be interested in working on a video for us. I called and spoke to Geoff who said that Sleazy would call me back, but in the meantime asked me if I liked Coil? My 22-year-old self, who still knew everything about music, didn't know who Coil were, and Geoff sent me a copy of Horse Rotorvator The dark wonder that unfolded when I received the album was utterly spellbinding, and moved my musical landscape once again.

A pivotal life changing moment, forever etched in my tiny mind.

Of course Mr Know-it-all soon figured out that Peter was Sleazy and Jess was Geoff was Jhonn.

It wasn't until 2003 when Mute put the TG24 box set together that I actually got to meet Sleazy in person, this man who was intrinsically involved in three incredibly important mind-switch moments of my life.

Out of great fear from the awe of both how I felt regarding how he had touched my life and out of the reputation from the myth that surrounded him and the rest of TG, I sat trembling in the Mute boardroom.

And guess what, he was a beautiful gentleman, not what I dreamed or feared he might be, but something more, someone more.

Over the years we worked together on the TG reformation, he touched my life, and appreciated anything I did for TG. What's more, over the years of knowing him, he taught me so much about people and art. It makes me wonder just who exactly I would be if not for having him in my life in all these ways. I’d probably still be that nerdy music aficionado who knew everything, yet knew nothing.

I told him earlier this year how glad I was that he was my friend, and not just someone I worked with. I'm so glad i did.

Peter Christopherson: a pivotal, life-changing person in my tiny life.

I will never forget you Sleazy. The world has changed now that you aren't in it, but it will be forever rich and exciting because you were.

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mark farmer
Dec 1, 2010 6:39am

Peter was a true gent....he will be sadly missed by many.

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nix
Dec 1, 2010 3:16pm

Johnny, you've just put to paper so much of what I've had in my mind, and in my conversations with like-minds, in the last few days. Such a great loss, not just of output but of approach. Sleazy, Chris and Cosey have been potently inspiring, Sleazy particularly through Coil, because of - as you rightly said - their relentless wrecking of the bounds of civilisation, and consensus reality. Jarman also lived in a similar manner and continues to transmit inspiration and energy through his work, writings, and comrades.

All we can do now, is continue to generate a genuine and committed frequency, continue the transmission, and support others who do the same with our whole hearts.

Sleazy: such a great loss, but always with us.

x

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Shirley
Dec 2, 2010 6:52pm

You know what's strange? I hardly ever sleep to music anymore (although I used to a lot), and for some reason decided to fall asleep last night listening to Musick to Play in the Dark. I have to confess that, as I get older, "music news" is less and less a part of my life, but I always occasionally still do a search for Sleazy occasionally. Because he's such a fascinating person, and always has such interesting things to say. And because, as HE got older, he continued to push in new directions, hold fast to his ideals, and do everything (as keeps being pointed out) as nothing less than a perfect gentleman. RIP. Although, if Sleazy was right about such things, I doubt he's resting or doing much of anything peacefully...

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Richard (The Synthesizer Book)
Dec 2, 2010 9:09pm

Some very beautiful sentiments.

This past week I can't stop playing-The Ape of Naples & Musick To Play In The Dark 1 and 2. I keep looking over at my vinyl copy of Horse Rotorvator, and floods of memories of Peter "Sleazy Christopherson overwhelm me. I didn't know him personally, but his music has left a lifelong mark on me. I pulled out an old interview from 1987 with Sleazy. I read it every few years. Even then he was talking about music as more than just beats and synthesizers. He was creating visualizations for me, with his music, and I didn't even know it. I've been thinking about the X-TG lot a ton too. I wish I could've made the journey to Bangkok.

Truly, truly, great artist only come around every once in a great while. Lucky for us, there was Sleazy. Leaving vast amounts of output, that expands over decades.

Thank you again, Mr. Christopherson for affecting me in so many positive ways with your art, music and passion. My thoughts are with you this week and for many ions to come.

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genesis breyer p-orridge
Dec 3, 2010 3:13am

Dear Paul,
Everything you say about Sleazy is true and you describe him impeccably. But let me say, Sleazy was right, you too have been incredible at walking the TG internal tightrope with absolute finesse. It surprises me NOT that you both connected so deeply. It was well deserved in both directions. We used to refer to Sleazy as The Great Mediator, he was. He looked, always for a positive. GENESIS

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