The color of your Gristleism box has about as much to do with the way it sounds as the color of your copy of Douglas Coupland’s Generation X had to do with the way the story played out. In the end, both objects, regardless of their edition, produce the same chunk of culture, regardless of hue. Yet Ugol Ratmanova, a Russian duo, take the time, on the occasion of their recent free audio release, to make it clear that both the red and the black Gristleisms were employed (not the chrome one, in other words), along with a Waldorf Blofeld synthesizer and an electric guitar on December 27, 2009, when the track in question was recorded.
Again, in the end, all that means is that two different Gristleisms were pumping out looping segments of the industrial-noise catalog of the band Throbbing Gristle (who developed the gadget with Christiaan Virant, of the duo FM3, pioneers of the loop-device with their Buddha Machines).
Those sounds are heard here, sublimated amid slowly developing pop ambience, with a regulated beat and glimmering accents — in other words, old-school space music, which as with a lot of contemporary Slavic electronica has a certain debt to the proggy excesses of Tangerine Dream. Very much to their credit, Ratmanova do a great job of reining in any potential histrionics; their motivations are more chamber than orchestral, and the track is an excellent series of maneuvers through various sonic zones, some glossy, some gritty, all cinematic (MP3).
And if Ratmanova do have an ear to the past, it’s not a past defined by a certain aesthetic. As the piece comes to a close, a part comes to the fore that sounds like nothing so much as an early solo by Herbie Hancock when he was first finding his way at the electric keyboard.