Peter Christopherson

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Peter Christopherson
Peter Christopherson 2007 (02).JPG
Peter Christopherson in 2007
Background information
Birth name Peter Martin Christopherson
Also known as Sleazy
Born (1955-02-27)27 February 1955
Leeds, England
Died 25 November 2010(2010-11-25) (aged 55)
Bangkok, Thailand
Genres Industrial, experimental, electronic
Occupations Musician, songwriter, music video director, commercial artist, photographer
Instruments Keyboards, synthesizer, electronics, french horn
Years active 1975–2010
Labels Threshold House, Eskaton, Chalice, Industrial
Associated acts Soisong, The Threshold HouseBoys Choir, Coil, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Nine Inch Nails

Peter Martin Christopherson (also known as Sleazy, 27 February 1955 – 25 November 2010[1]) was a musician, video director, commercial artist, designer and photographer, and former member of British design agency Hipgnosis.

He was one of the original members of the Industrial Records band Throbbing Gristle (TG). After the disbandment of Throbbing Gristle, he participated in the formation of Psychic TV along with Genesis P-Orridge and Geoff Rushton—Rushton later changed his name to John Balance.[1] After his short time in Psychic TV, Christopherson formed Coil with Balance, which lasted for just under 23 years, until Balance died of a fall in a London home he shared with Christopherson.[1] Christopherson participated in the reunification of Throbbing Gristle and, after his relocation to Thailand in 2005, composed an album for his solo endeavour The Threshold HouseBoys Choir.

Early life[edit]

Born on 27 February 1955 in Leeds, UK, Christopherson's father, Derman Christopherson, was a professor of engineering who became master of Magdalene College, Cambridge prior to receiving a knighthood. Following school, Christopherson studied computer programming, theatre design and video at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) in New York, United States (US).[1]

Music[edit]

Christopherson was a founding member of Throbbing Gristle, who are credited with creating the industrial music genre before disbanding in 1981.[citation needed] Throbbing Gristle members Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti formed their own group, while Christopherson and the band's other member P-Orridge formed Psychic TV with Balance and other musicians.[2]

Balance met Christopherson as a Throbbing Gristle fan and the two became intimate partners.[1] Christopherson worked on the first two Psychic TV albums, Force The Hand of Chance and Dreams Less Sweet, joined by Balance on the latter. The two performed live several times with Psychic TV prior to forming their own project Coil. Strictly a recording project, Coil consisted of Christopherson and Balance, while Steven E. Thrower occasionally played bass guitar and drums. Balance was the lyricist and also played Chapman Stick and some keyboards. In 1987, Christopherson explained the sound of Coil:

A ‘big movie theater’ ambience. We’ve always liked movies about Turkish prisons and Roman galleys. Most contemporary music draws its imagery from the past 30 years, going back to the ’50s. But there’s a whole wealth of imagery from earlier times that’s fascinating to draw from.[3]

Over two decades, Coil released a myriad of recordings, in addition to contributing to the work of other artists. They recorded parts of the album The New Backwards at Nothing Studios in New Orleans, US, owned by musician Trent Reznor at the time. In the liner notes of the 2008 CD release, Christopherson wrote: "Thanks to everyone there, especially Trent Reznor who made it all possible."[4]

Despite Christopherson's long and extensive history as a musical artist, he only released two tracks under the name "Peter Christopherson". The first, "In My Head A Crystal Sphere of Heavy Fluid", appeared on the compilation Foxtrot, a benefit album for Balance's rehabilitation from alcohol dependence, while the second, "All Possible Numbers", appeared eleven years later on Autumn Blood (Constructions).[citation needed]

In 2005, following the death of Balance, Christopherson relocated from England to Bangkok, Thailand and founded the solo project The Threshold HouseBoys Choir.[1] He also released the final Coil CDs—The Remote Viewer,[5] Black Antlers,[6] ...And The Ambulance Died in His Arms[7] and The New Backwards[4]—on the band's own Threshold House label. In addition to the CD releases, Christopherson also released a 16-DVD box set following his relocation, entitled Colour Sound Oblivion, that was produced in a wooden box, in which a fifteen-page booklet, the program for Balance's funeral ceremony and a large collection of 6-inch × 4-inch postcards (mainly tour photographs) were also contained.[8]

Throbbing Gristle also reformed for a few concerts in 2005 and announced a new album called Part Two. The group announced several additional concerts in 2007 for the promotion of the album.[citation needed]

In 2007 Christopherson released the debut album of The Threshold HouseBoys Choir. The album, Form Grows Rampant, consists of five "parts" or songs, and includes a DVD of the album set to video footage of Thai rituals in Krabi, Thailand.[9][10] One tour promoter who organized a Threshold HouseBoys Choir concert described it as "easily the most shocking thing I have ever experienced".[1]

In 2008 Christopherson and Ivan Pavlov (aka CoH) started a new project called Soisong. The band officially premiered in Tokyo on 9 March 2008 and later performed several shows in Europe, having self-released their debut EP. As part of the tour, Soisong performed a live soundtrack to Derek Jarman's film Blue in Rovereto, Italy. In April of the same year, Christopherson and Pavlov, alongside David Tibet, Othon Mataragas and Ernesto Tomasini, also performed a live soundtrack for The Angelic Conversation in Turin, Italy.[11]

In 2009 Soisong recorded their first full-length album xAj3z, the release of which was followed by a European Reunion Tour and a world-wide campaign in search of the band's missing virtual vocalists featured on the record. In 2010 Soisong declared a "Split Phase 2010", during which all of the members would concentrate on their personal work; however, two independently recorded solo EPs, both entitled Soisong, were scheduled for release. Christopherson never finalized his work for the release, but Soisong Split was eventually published in September 2012, nearly two years after Christopherson's death. The release consists of a CoH Soisong EP by Pavlov, originally recorded in 2010, and a collection of four unpublished sketches by Christopherson that were made available on the band's website.[citation needed]

In 2010 Christopherson started collaborating with Hirsute Pursuit, featuring Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall, via email. They finished two songs together, "One Sleazy Night in Bangkok" and "One Sleazy Night in New Orleans", for the album Tighten That Muscle Ring. The album was signed to Cold Spring Records, but Christopherson died prior to its release. Boyd Rice was also a contributor and his vocal appearance opens the album with a cover version of David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging". Writing for the Quietus online publication, Luke Turner claimed that the album was "the most sexy and perverted album of 2012".[12]

Also in 2010, Christopherson was sent an iPad by musician Trent Reznor that contained music for a potential collaboration. Reznor had asked him for his blessing to use the moniker "How To Destroy Angels" for a musical project that Reznor was creating with his wife, and Christopherson responded amenably, suggesting that they could potentially collaborate as part of the project. Christopherson explained that Reznor was a "perfect gentleman" in regard to the way in which the matter was negotiated; however, Christopherson died before he was able to resend the iPad back to Reznor with his contribution.[13]

The final music that was ever recorded by Christopherson occurred in Bangkok, Thailand with a project named "Electric Sewer Age" that also involved musician Danny Hyde. The original intention of the recordings was to complete a series of releases called "Moons Milk", but an album called In Final Phase was eventually released in 2013, with only 999 numbered CD copies made available. The CD is packaged in record sleeve-style thickened cardboard, and each copy is numbered from 1 to 999, while the insert sleeve displays a picture of Christopherson in his Bangkok studio that was taken at the moment that the recording was completed.[14]

Musical innovator[edit]

Peter Christopherson in 2008

Writing for the Guardian newspaper, Dave Simpson credited Christopherson with using digital samplers on-stage before the Fairlight CMI popularised sampling.[2] Also writing for the Guardian, Alexis Petridis described Carter and Christopherson as "pioneers in technology", and noted a sampler that Carter had custom-built for Christopherson a number of years before sampling became popular.[1] Christopherson explained Carter's construction and musical experimentation in a 1987 interview with Keyboard magazine:

It was a box that [TG synthesist] Chris Carter made for me, to my design that basically switched on and off – through inputs on tape recorders – six cassette machines, the output of each going to a different key. Many of the machines I used in TG were cassette machines that were stripped down and altered to play backward and forward and four tracks at once, the speed variable by flywheels. The very first sampling device there ever was, as far as I know, was manufactured by Mountain Hardware for Apple computers. It was designed to reproduce voice samples, and had a very limited selection of pitches. I was using that onstage in '79 or '80, which was before the first Fairlight was used commercially. So I've always had a soft spot for sampling.[3]

Design, photography, commercial art and film[edit]

Prior to his musical projects, Christopherson was a commercial artist, designer, and photographer. Notably, he was one of the three partners of the album cover design group Hipgnosis, which was responsible for many notable album covers of the 1970s, such as those of Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here) and Peter Gabriel (first three albums).[2] He also designed the logo of UK fashion label BOY London.[15]

As a freelance photographer, Christopherson shot the first promotional images of the Sex Pistols in 1976. He later provided design work for SEX, the fashion boutique owned by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood).[15]

Christopherson remained involved with commercial art up until his later life. He directed over 40 music videos—for artists such as Rage Against the Machine, The The, Van Halen, Sepultura and Robert Plant—and was responsible for a high number of television commercials.[1][15] He filmed and directed the Threshold HouseBoys Choir DVD that was filmed in Thailand.[10]

Death[edit]

Christopherson died in his sleep on 25 November 2010 and the cause of his death was not made public. At the time of his death, Christopherson was working on a complete re-working of Nico's 1970 album Desertshore, to be released as a Throbbing Gristle album.[1]

Legacy[edit]

In addition to numerous other tributes, P-Orridge wrote a lengthy eulogy for Christopherson, in which he concluded:

Sleazy loved Bangkok and Thailand. He had been visiting regularly for several years before deciding to move there permanently after Jjonn/Geff passed on. While we were spending time in 2009 with him we were pretty sick from the intense emotional stress of our ceremony in Nepal for the reliving and releasing of a beloved. Sleazy became a source of every suture for my heart, loving sustenance for my soul. He nurtured me with words of wise counsel garnered from his own similar and tragic losses. There had been a long sometimes desolate expanse between the seventies and now. But we had both crossed our abyss and we were blessed by Sleazy’s loving nature to be able to accept his gentle embrace and, crying like a child we often are, be able to lovingly say to him, “I HAVE GOT MY FRIEND BACK.” Many times, since then, we have stopped during hard times, confusing times, and we think of Sleazy and how his mastery of light went from cameras to hearts and souls, and that makes me smile and laugh. Which is as he would wish. We loved Sleazy in all he did…[16]

Peter Gabriel published a brief post on his website on 26 November 2010 that opened with the statement: "We tip our hats to Mr Peter Christopherson".[17] Speaking to the Quietus website in February 2014, Reznor stated: "[Coil's] 'Tainted Love' video remains one of the greatest music videos of all time ... If it's not immediately obvious: Horse Rotorvator was deeply influential on me. What they did to your senses. What they could do with sound. What Jhonn was doing lyrically ... Peter was a lovely guy. We had a respectful relationship."[13]

Discography[edit]

Solo as Peter Christopherson[edit]

  • "In My Head A Crystal Sphere of Heavy Fluid" on Foxtrot (1998)
  • "All Possible Numbers" on Autumn Blood (Constructions) (2009)
  • "Time Machines II" (Posthumously released in 2014)

Solo as The Threshold HouseBoys Choir[edit]

With SoiSong[edit]

  • Soijin-No-Hi Octagonal CDEP / free download EP from www.soisong.com from March (2008)
  • xAj3z Octagonal CD housed in fold out custom sleeve with colour inlay (2009)
  • Soisong Octagonal COH CDEP / free download Sleazy EP from www.soisong.com (2010)

With Psychic TV[edit]

Other contributions[edit]

Date of release Song title Released on Group name released under Musical role
1980 "First/Last" Something For Nobody Monte Cazazza featuring (technical supervision)
1982 Seven Songs 23 Skidoo featuring (production)
1992 "First/Last" The Worst of Monte Cazazza Monte Cazazza featuring (technical supervision)
1993 "The Apocalyptic Folk in the Nodding God Unveiled" The Nodding Folk performer
1996 "Videodrones; Questions" Lost Highway soundtrack Trent Reznor production
1996 "Driver Down" Lost Highway Soundtrack Trent Reznor production
2000 "Silence Is Golden" Vox Tinnitus CoH vocals
2001 "My Angel (Director's Cut)" Love Uncut CoH vocals
6 August 2001 The Michel Publicity Window E.P. Thighpaulsandra album artwork design
2002 "Autumn" Seasons CoH uses field recordings by Christopherson
2005 "Unhealthy Red" A Nature of Nonsense Aural Rage written by
2008 "I'm in Black Out" The Zsigmondy Experience Sion Orgon uses field recordings and vocals by Christopherson
2012 "One Sleazy Night in Bangkok" Tighten That Muscle Ring Hirsute Pursuit collaboration tracks with Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall 1 of the last 2 tracks recorded before his death.
2012 "One Sleazy Night in New Orleans" Tighten That Muscle Ring Hirsute Pursuit collaboration tracks with Harley Phoenix and Bryin Dall 1 of the last 2 tracks recorded before his death.

Album artwork credits[edit]

This from Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson himself:[citation needed] "I worked as a free-lance photographer and contributor, then promoted to an assistant to Hipgnosis before becoming a partner, and continued to act also after I officially left the organization. So my contributions range from attempted but rejected artwork or design work, to partial contribution in either/both as an assistant, to being fully responsible for all design and artwork, such as the Peter Gabriel LPs. What you wish to document is up to you."

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Petridis, Alexis (28 November 2010). "Peter Christopherson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Simpson, Dave (25 November 2010). "Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson: 1955–2010". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Dery, Mark (29 November 2010). "This Mortal Coil: A Final Report on Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson". Thought Catalog. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Coil – The New Backwards". Coil at Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "Coil – The Remote Viewer". Coil Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Coil – Black Antlers". Coil at Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Coil – ...And The Ambulance Died in His Arms". Coil at Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "Coil – Colour Sound Oblivion". Coil at Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  9. ^ The Threshold HouseBoys Choir; Substrom (26 November 2010). "The Threshold HouseBoys Choir ~ So Young It Knows No Maturing" (Video upload). YouTube. Google Inc. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Christopherson, Peter; TheCoilFan (19 June 2012). "The Threshold HouseBoys Choir" (Video upload). YouTube. Google Inc. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  11. ^ Ferrari, Paolo (11 April 2008), La memoria dei Coil per Balance e Jarman (article), La Stampa 
  12. ^ Turner, Luke (28 November 2012). "Hirsute Pursuit". The Quietus. The Quietus. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Harry Sword (27 February 2014). "Trent Reznor on Coil & Nine Inch Nails, Plus Recoiled Review". The Quietus. The Quietus. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Electric Sewer Age No. 1 Infinal phase -CD-SOLD OUT------------ 22/10/13". Aural Rage. Aural Rage. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c Lucas, Gavin (26 November 2010). "Peter Christopherson: 1955–2010". Creative Review. Creative Review. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  16. ^ P-Orridge, Genesis; brandon (29 November 2010). "The First Five Minutes After Death: Various Artists Remember Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson". Stereogum. SpinMedia. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "Peter Christopherson: 1955–2010". PeterGabriel.com. Peter Gabriel Ltd. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 

External links[edit]