Seen above is an original Gristleizer, the custom audio effects unit that helped define the industrial sound of Throbbing Gristle (TG) in the late 1970s. TG co-founder Chris Carter made the device in 1977 based on a design printed in Practical Electronics magazine and sold in kit form by Phonosonics. (Cloned Analog Gear posted a PDF of the article.) Apparently, Carter is a quintessential maker. From an interview with him at Planet Origo:
When I was about 12 years old I was given a "Young Scientist" electronics kit that included instructions and parts to build a basic radio, a small amp, a flashing lamp and so on. Which I really enjoyed making. I then subscribed to Practical Electronics magazine and spent my pocket money buying electronic components to build the monthly projects. By the late sixties I was building synth circuits such as oscillators, filters, amps etc. from scratch....Chris Carter's Gristleizer (Throbbing-Gristle.com), From Which the Gristleizer Came (Matrixsynth), Interview: Chris Carter (Planet Origo)
When I joined TG I built an effect unit called a Gristleizer for each of us. This (now infamous) box of tricks consisted of a smallish metal case containing an LFO, VCF, VCA, a pre-amp, various front panel controls and LEDs. Certain settings on the Gristleizers were very distinctive and it's often regarded as imparting one of TG's trademark sounds. We used them on almost everything: synth, guitar, bass, violin, tapes, rhythms and of course on Genesis (P-Orridge's) voice. The beauty of the Gristleizers was that its range of sounds was so extreme, which also meant it could sound completely different depending on the instrument. The sounds included slow modulated filtering, a metallic ring-modulation effect , clipped and fuzzed distortion and tremolo. At the time there was no other battery powered effect unit capable of such a wide and weird range of sounds. When TG finished I was constantly being asked by musicians to build more Gristleizers but it was something I only did for a few friends . Ultimately I built about 10 units in total but I know there are at least two (just about) working
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David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.