Pigface – Glitch

I don’t have a huge number of music DVDs, but the ones I own are generally great performances that have been polished up a bit in the studio afterwards. That’s as true of, say, Foetus’s ultra-low-budget MALE DVD as it is for Skinny Puppy’s slick The Greater Wrong of the Right. What this messy cacophony does is put them in the same band.

Martin Atkins (Public Image Ltd, Killing Joke) had the bright idea of putting members of Ministry and KMFDM on the stage together. From there it “sort of exploded” and he wound up with a “supergroup” that, in its 20 years of existence, has featured members such as NIN’s Trent Reznor, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wayne from Static-X and Black Francis from The Pixies. (Full list of members here.)

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I replaced this immediately on realising that the old VHS copy I owned was broken. I did this despite recognising that, for the most part, Pigface are f***ing abysmal. Although JG Thirlwell is credited twice (both as ‘Clint Ruin’ and as ‘Jim Thirlwell’), the actual track he did with them (available for download from Amazon) is the worst, most tuneless racket it has ever been my misfortune to hear (and I’ve seen Iron Monkey live). Thankfully it doesn’t actually appear on any of the 31 tracks on offer here, which is why you might be staring mystified at the credits. I couldn’t make out David Yow (The Jesus Lizard) or Lori Barbello (Babes In Toyland) either.

Most of the fun comes from trying to work out who’s who, since the footage between the two halves (Glitch and Son of Glitch) and the “special features” (bonus tracks) were filmed many years – and haircuts – apart. Genesis P-Orridge looks fairly terrifying at the best of times, so you can’t miss him, and KMFDM’s En Esch provides a few unintentional laughs.

Some of the members – generally the longest-serving ones – adapt well to the ever-changing lineup and are consistently entertaining. This is definitely true of Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks) and Ian ‘Mary Byker’ Hoxley (Apollo 440).

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Byker, in particular, is effortlessly engaging – so absolutely likeable that on first seeing this tour diary 15 years ago, I resolved that I absolutely had to meet the guy (and, yes, he was every bit as adorable in real life). The backstage footage is entertaining, lending a chaotic, dreamy atmosphere to the whole proceedings.

Dreamy and hypnotic is a good way generally to describe the Pigface sound. It’s rarely terribly musical, but somehow after a while of listening to white noise and shouting over the intense rhythms (there are often three drummers on stage) you start to drift off into an altered state of consciousness. Or just feel like a drunk teenager again, which is the effect it has on me.

Either way, as Atkins points out, he wanted to document some very magical moments before they disappeared forever, and if you’re a fan of any of these bands, you could do worse than to check this out.

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