I sweep the skies with fire and steel
April 14, 2010 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Journeys to the Internal Space Station (SLBP)

Breathe deep, mine eyes, the frosty saga of eternal suns
From unseen depths and dreams undreamt,
I sing the gleaming cantos of unvanquished space
By thought I embrace the universal
With wings of mind I sail the infinitude
Glory! 'tis the stars which beckon man's spirit and set our souls adrift!

— Hart Crane, 1930
posted by blue_beetle (29 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
(title from Gordon Boshell's "The Airplane")
posted by blue_beetle at 11:40 AM on April 14, 2010

Journey Through A Body was Throbbing Gristle's final studio album, originally released in 1981 and eventually re-appearing on CD on Mute's Grey Area subsidiary last autumn.

The sound is pretty much what you'd expect for late period TG. A mixture of bizarre sounds and tapes, Cosey's ill sounding cornet and assorted tinkly-bonk synth work from Chris Carter, although there's also some nice piano work here. The album consists of five tracks - supposedly one per body section - although for some reason (hopefully a technical or aesthetic one rather than just laziness in remastering) these have been grouped into just two tracks on the CD.

First is "Medicine", which opens painfully with a high-pitched tone that eventually mutates the intermittent beeping of an ECG. The track itself is disturbingly organic - sepulchral breathing that suggests it was recorded inside the lungs, female cries of pain, and assorted medical noises ranging from the voices of hospital staff through to the sterile clattering of surgical implements. The whole thing's rather suggestive of a birth seen from the point of view of the unborn child, albeit one where the child probably has red glowing eyes and can spin its head through 360 degrees while vomiting green soup.

This leads (directly - same track on the CD) into "Catholic Sex" which is, for want of a better phrase, TG's attempt at what has since become something of an industrial cliche, the "female orgasm set to music" record. At the time it was probably fairly innovative - it had only been done a few times before - but since then it seems that almost every group even remotely connected with the industrial genre has had a shot at this type of track, making it extremely tired. TG's version takes a burbly little Chris Carter percussion track, throws in a bunch of Cosey's trumpet work, some bass synth, assorted industrial noise and the inevitable moans, groans and cries. Eventually Genesis's vocals appear and the track undergoes a transformation, as he slurs the vocals (which, given the title, are a rather unsurprising mix of sex and religion) over a subdued background of church organ. His appearance is brief, though, and the songs reverts to its previous form.

Next is the rather bizarre "Exotic Functions" - a piano rendition of what sounds like "Spanish Eyes" over a mixture of jungle noises, percussion and water noises that mutates into an extremely fast, tinkly little pseudo-Chinese sounding affair before turning back into "Spanish Eyes" again. It'd all be rather pretty if you didn't remember that this is Throbbing Gristle and that, given the title of the track and the exotic nature of the music, those water noises probably weren't water.

"Violencia (The Bullet)" combines screams, cries, guns being cocked etc with the sounds of a piano being abused, deep bursts of bass rumbling, typical TG noise guitar. Quite effective, although it does go on a bit and the assorted death noises lose their effectiveness through repetition - which I always thought was the sort of thing TG were trying to avoid. The final track is "Oltre La Morte, Birth And Death" is surprisingly pretty - pianos being used in various ways (played, plucked), deep rumbles etc - and probably the gentlest TG track I can recall.

It's a shame that what otherwise would have been an excellent release is marred by brain-dead tracking. True, none of the tracks here have the sheer shock content that characterised the group's earlier releases, but it's probably one of the group's most musical and inventive efforts and hints at what we could expect from the various members once they'd gone their separate ways.
posted by swift at 11:42 AM on April 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Journeys to the Internal Space Station

I thought this was going to be one of those "Tiny spaceships enters human body" type things.
posted by delmoi at 11:46 AM on April 14, 2010

Love the holy hand grenade bit here.
posted by Behemoth at 12:19 PM on April 14, 2010


posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 12:20 PM on April 14, 2010

ref the throbbing gristle stuff
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 12:21 PM on April 14, 2010

Swift, what the hell are you talking about?
posted by craven_morhead at 12:24 PM on April 14, 2010

There's a little space station in all of us.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:27 PM on April 14, 2010

"Journeys to the internal space station" is reminiscent of a journey through the body, which happens to be a Throbbing Gristle album.

Also, I am not high.
posted by swift at 12:31 PM on April 14, 2010

Neat stuff; those pictures really captured the shuttle launch well. I was surprised that I didn't see any of Ben Cooper's photos, though. (I first learned of him through this AskMe, but I have since seen his pics on the NASA website and elsewhere.
posted by TedW at 12:33 PM on April 14, 2010

When a man is tired of pictures of spaceships, he is tired of life.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:38 PM on April 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

These are wonderful, thank you! #12, of the astronaut standing before a wall of glass in his socks, taking pictures, was breathtaking. Mankind has a friggin' space station!

Was also cool to see several nationalities along with a couple of women seemingly living and working well together.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:57 PM on April 14, 2010

I love how elegant the Soyuz is. So little launch infrastructure by comparison to U.S. programs. They pull the launch stack out to the launch site with a locomotive, tip it upright, and shoot it off from a launchpad in the middle of the Kazakh steppe. The rocket leaves the pad and the gantry just falls away from it, on all sides at once, like the petals of a flower.

It's beautiful, but even better, it's totally yawn-inducing. It's a non-event. Watching shuttle launches, I'm continually thinking, "fly, motherfucker," because there's always some question (at least in my mind) as to whether it will. In U.S. practice, spaceflight is a long series of grand experiments, shiny and expensive and awe-inspiring and nerve-wracking. For the Russians, launching Soyuz is more like making toast, using the same ultra-reliable military-drab toaster they've been using for 50 years. They worked out all the parameters and perfected the hardware decades ago. So there's no suspense when the Soyuz leaves the pad, none at all. It's quite something.
posted by killdevil at 12:58 PM on April 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am happy to live at a time when photos like # 34 are possible. Check out the double image-inversion as the light passes through the water & air.
posted by richyoung at 1:17 PM on April 14, 2010

*wistful sigh* ... I love pictures like this. Such wonderful fuel for daydreams.

This is why I'm not an astronaut (well, apart from the whole serious klutz and spacesickness barf-a-thon thing) - I'd spend all my time gawking out the window.
posted by Quietgal at 2:07 PM on April 14, 2010

Lovely, amazing photos. Every time I get suckered into sitting through a church service, listening to some earnest, but limited, person prattling on about awe and majesty and grandeur in what is, even in a decent-sized cathedral, a setting that is pretty much the opposite of those things, I just wonder why religious folks don't just step outside and look up. To each their own, I suppose. Hell, even the mundane spectacle of Iridium satellite flares make me feel happy to be human and living in this time, and on this planet.

This also reminds me how amusing it felt to me watching Borat and realizing that Kazakhstan has an active human space launch facility with a future while we, the great country that continually claims itself to be better than the whole rest of the world, don't.

Curious thing, that.
posted by sonascope at 2:22 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Of course the Japanese astronauts are up there to take photos with giant lenses. For some reason, I particularly like the shot of the external fuel tank from the shuttle.
posted by snofoam at 3:05 PM on April 14, 2010

Photo #5 made me LOL. They caught the guy trying to look as cool as possible under the circumstances. It's like what's he doing, playing with a lock of hair there...?
posted by circular at 3:06 PM on April 14, 2010

Whoa, that entry helmet in #16 is awesome! It's like the NFL designed it or something.

#26 and #38 are neat too
posted by circular at 3:13 PM on April 14, 2010

The one of the Russian Orthodox priest made me wonder what would happen if Dom DeLuise got onto the ISS.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:27 PM on April 14, 2010

Photo #5 made me LOL. They caught the guy trying to look as cool as possible under the circumstances. It's like what's he doing, playing with a lock of hair there...?

I think he's adjusting the strap on the rather obvious headgear.
posted by delmoi at 4:30 PM on April 14, 2010

Thanks for this. I'll...I'll be in my bunk.
posted by Minus215Cee at 6:56 PM on April 14, 2010

The pure wonder here is just.. well, I'm speechless. Where do I sign up?
posted by Alterscape at 7:37 PM on April 14, 2010

I love the classical spaceship-y look of the Soyuz TMA. I mean, it's pretty well built to purpose - you might be able to get rid of the orbital module and just have a descent module and service module (for ISS crew transfers), but hell, it's what works and I'm sure they're grateful for whatever additional lifting capacity they have.

But it's still so wonderfully vintage late 60's spacecraft design. Hell, it doesn't even have aerodynamic concerns, as it's buried under an aeroshell for launch.
posted by Kyol at 9:07 PM on April 14, 2010

Worth to mention that there currently are more women in space than ever before: Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Soichi Noguchi.
posted by Catfry at 12:40 AM on April 15, 2010

Great photos. I really want to see more images that show what it is like to look out of the cupola.

Worth to mention that there currently are more women in space than ever before: Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Soichi Noguchi.

I believe Soichi Noguchi is male.
posted by knapah at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2010

You're right! I mistakenly swapped the names between him and Naoko Yamazaki who is definitely female. Both Japanese astronauts are on board the ISS at the moment.
posted by Catfry at 8:07 AM on April 15, 2010

Yet Buzz Aldrin was standing next to Obama today as the President charted a somewhat different course for NASA.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:58 PM on April 15, 2010

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