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...about "industrial music"....
"...Industrial music for industrial people. ..You get what you
deserve. Or do you?...Truth and hope have no
boundaries, no set style, they are implicit most clearly in the way you choose to live..."
(G. P-Orridge, liner notes on "TG CD1", 1986)
"...the concern of industrial music was to find an adequate response to a post-collapse society, a society that had yet to understand
how quite empty its core had become..."(Brian Duguid, in: EST (web-magazine))
"...I like Radiohead, some Coldplay, and I really like what Bjork does as well. I listen to a lot of electronic stuff, mostly
the laidback, chill out, British and French acts. That's merely for pleasure and everything else is for analyzing..."
(Graeme Revell, (formed the "industrial" group SPK in the 80's), interview, 2005)
"Nothing here now but the recordings." Or perhaps there
It should be mentioned that there is much disagreement
the industrial scene as to the current state of "industrial", to the
extent that some (including artists mentioned on this page) are of
the belief that there is no "current state of industrial", and that
"industrial music" ended with the demise of Throbbing Gristle and
"Industrial Records". Thus, the subgenre outlines that follow are by
no means definitive, and indeed are often a point of contention
between fans of the music.
First wave (70s to 80s - "Industrial Records")
"Industrial music" began as an intellectual movement to challenge the idea of what music can be.
The first wave of industrial musicians began performing in the mid-seventies.
There are still a number of artists who create music in a fashion very similar to the
original philosophies of Industrial Records. These genres all stem directly from "industrial".
Avant-garde / experimental
Popularized by Industrial Records this sound first defined the term "industrial",
but bears very little resemblance to what most people consider to be "industrial music".
By modern standards, most of this would better be described as "experimental noise".
Featuring tape loops, cut-ups, vocal and instrumental experimentation, this first
incarnation of "industrial music" would be considered very difficult listening for
many of those familiar with modern "industrial", but was widely considered to be
the defining sound of "industrial" in the 70s.
Artists: Throbbing Gristle, NON, Einstürzende Neubauten, William S. Burroughs,
Nurse With Wound, SPK
Labels: Industrial Records
Noise / shock
This branch of "industrial" focused more on brutal, ear shattering, noise,
much of it was for shock value, it was and continues to be a huge influence
on modern interpretations of "noise music", as well as "industrial music" in general.
Artists: Boyd Rice, Monte Cazazza
Power electronics / noise music
"Power electronics" was originally related to the early industrial records
scene but later became more identified with the "noise music" scene.
It largely consists of screeching waves of feedback, analogue synthesizers
making sub-bass pulses or high frequency squealing sounds, and screamed,
distorted, often hateful and offensive lyrics. Deeply atonal, there are
no "notes" or conventional rhythms in power electronics.
Artists: Whitehouse, The New Blockaders, Sutcliffe Jugend
Labels: Come Organisation (UK), Broken Seal (Germany), Alien8 Recordings (Canada)
Electronic / dance
A form of "industrial" that was more accessible, and more danceable, that came
about in the early 1980s. Evolved alongside "EBM" (electronic body music). Many of
the artists involved were originally practitioners of the classic industrial sound.
Artists: Cabaret Voltaire, Severed Heads
Second wave (80s to 90s)
EBM (electronic body music)
"EBM" (also commonly known as "industrial dance"): The term "EBM" was coined by
Belgian act Front 242 in the eighties; it denotes a certain type of danceable
"electronic music". "EBM" beats are typically 4/4, often with some minor syncopation
to suggest a "rock" rhythm. Heavy synths are usually prominent, and the vocals
are often militaristic. This style was widely considered to be the defining sound
of "industrial" in the 80s. In recent years, however, there has been somewhat of
a schism within the "EBM" scene, and it is now not uncommon to hear "futurepop"
and "synthpop" artists referred to as "EBM" artists. For this reason, many "EBM" fans
have begun to refer to this earlier style as "old-school EBM".
Artists: Front 242, Bigod 20, Nitzer Ebb, Skinny Puppy
Labels: Off Beat (Germany), Zoth Ommog (Belgium), Pendragon (USA), Wax Trax (USA)
"Electro-industrial" (Now often called "elektro", and not to be confused with "electro")
is largely a catch-all category that fills the space between "power noise", "EBM",
"old-style industrial", and "gothic music". The main forerunner for these acts is
the legendary eighties Canadian band Skinny Puppy, who used a variety of experimental
production techniques to great success. Whereas "EBM" was generally straightforward
in structure and production, "elektro" became known for its deep, layered sound.
Typically this is a darker form of "EBM"; however this can often refer to acts that
combine "EBM" with another subgenre (for example Feindflug, who combine "EBM" with "power noise").
Within North America, this style was widely considered to be the defining sound of
"industrial" in the mid to late 1990s.
Artists: Skinny Puppy, Numb, Wumpscut, Front Line Assembly, Haujobb, Ministry
Labels: Off Beat (Germany), Zoth Ommog (Germany), 21st Circuitry (USA), Pendragon (USA), Metropolis (USA).
Aggro-industrial / industrial / industrial rock.
With its roots in American "rock music", "aggro-industrial" (Often simply called "aggro")
fused "punk-rock" sensibilities with "techno-industrial" brutality. Known for their live
performances, studio releases by these acts often employed rotating and shared lineups
due to the frequency of improv and jam sessions. Much of this style's musical output
was very aggressive, with confrontational lyrics and samples. This aesthetic was
furthered by the larger-than-life stage presence of many acts, which often involved
costumes, pyrotechnics, elaborate sets, and horror-inspired makeup. This style was
widely considered to be the defining sound of "industrial" in the early 1990s.
Artists: Ministry, Pigface, Cubanate, KMFDM, Chemlab
Labels: Wax Trax! (USA), Invisible Records (USA).
Coldwave / industrial metal.
"Coldwave" has its roots in "industrial metal" acts like the Young Gods and Ministry,
and exploded on the American scene in the mid-1990s. Albums like Chemlab's "Burn Out
at the Hydrogen Bar" exemplified the typical "coldwave" sound: "rock"-like guitars with
prominent synthesizer accompaniment, and live or sampled drums. Lyrical content varies,
but is typically "cyberpunk" -oriented in some fashion, often with "pop" sensibilities.
"Coldwave" record labels had a notoriously short lifespan.
Artists: Chemlab, 16 Volt, Hate Dept.
Labels: Re-Constriction Records (USA), Fifth Column Records (USA). If It Moves (USA).
"Death industrial" can be described as having much of the same source sounds as "power
electronics", but used to create a deep atmospheric sound with some thematic similarity
to "doom" or "death metal". Often features a more flowing rhythm and deeper, less abrasive
sound than "power electronics". The Grey Wolves are credited for pioneering the style,
but many the concepts of "death industrial" were first seen in NON.
Artists: The Grey Wolves, Brighter Death Now, Atrax Morgue
Labels: Cold Meat Industry(Sweden), Slaughter Productions (Italy)
"Dark industrial" is the marriage of "dark ambient". Much like "dark ambient",
the style is a minimalist soundscape. What separates "dark ambient" from "dark industrial"
is the harshness. The droning and distorted samples of "dark ambient" are replaced by
waves of static and eerie melodies.
Artists: Gruntsplatter, Innana, Keimverbreitung
Labels: Malignant Records (USA), Cold Meat Industry (Sweden), Cold Spring (UK)
Third wave (90s to 00s - Ant-Zen)
Perhaps as a reaction to the band and rock-oriented feel of the mid-nineties,
"industrial music" made a radical shift towards computer-generated, one-person acts.
Eschewing the explosive stage shows that were commonplace, many performances now
consist of a single artist on stage, surrounded by computers and electronic music equipment.
The structure itself is opening itself up to even further experimentation,
with modern equipment making a number of previously unattainable effects and techniques
fair game for anyone with enough computer savvy and patience.
"Aggrotech" is an evolution of "EBM" and "electro" that first surfaced in the mid-1990s,
but has been revitalised in recent years. Also refered to as "Terror EBM" or "TortureTech",
its sound is typified by somewhat harsh song structures, aggressive beats and lyrics
of a militant, pessimistic or explicit nature. Typically, the vocals are distorted
to sound hoarse, harsh and without tone. Artists also frequently use atonal melodic structures.
Artists: Aghast View, Suicide Commando, Wumpscut, Psyclon Nine, Hocico, Virtual Embrace,
Tactical Sekt, Grendel
Labels: NoiTekk (Germany), Mao Music (Germany)
"Industrial techno" is a cross between "power noise", "traditional industrial", and "techno".
It often resembles "house" music in structure, while keeping the harsh sounds, noises,
and fast pacing of industrial music. Although sampled and processed guitars are not uncommon,
lyrics and a verse-chorus-verse structure are very rare.
Artists: Pow[d]er Pussy, Punch Inc., Mimetic, Tarmvred, Epsilon Minus Ultraviolence
Labels: Ant-Zen(Germany), M-Tronic (France), Ad Noiseam
"Power noise" (also known as "rhythmic noise") takes its inspiration from some of the more
structured and distorted early industrial acts, such as Esplendor Geometrico. There are
also certain "techno" and "technoid" influences. The term "power noise" was originally coined
by Raoul Roucka, who records as Noisex. Typically, "power noise" is based upon a distorted
kick drum from a drum machine such as a Roland TR-808, uses militaristic 4/4 beats, and
is usually instrumental. Sometimes a melodic component is added, but this is almost always
secondary to the rhythm. "Power noise" tracks are typically structured and danceable, but
are known to be occasionally abstract. This genre is showcased at the annual Maschinenfest,
Germany, as well as at Infest in Bradford, UK.
Artists: Winterkälte, Imminent Starvation, Axiome, Converter, Haus Arafna
Labels: Ant-Zen (Germany), Hands Productions (Germany)
"Technoid" acts take inspiration from "IDM" (intelligent dance music), "experimental techno"
and "noise music". The end result is usually diverse IDM-influenced rhythms with varying
levels of noise and industrial influence. Artists will often use non-conventional sounds
within their music, such as field recordings of natural phenomena, dated 8-bit electronic
equipment, or samples from artists of a wildly different genre. It is not uncommon for
two albums by the same artist to have drastically different sounds and structures,
resulting in a number of acts that have evolved a great distance from where they were
only years ago. German label Hymen Records is largely responsible for the term and the style.
Artists: Gridlock, Black Lung, Somatic Responses, Xingu Hill
Labels: Hymen (Germany), Mirex (Germany), <UNIT> (USA)
Drum 'n' noise
"Drum 'n' noise" combines elements of "breakcore", "IDM", "Industrial", "hardcore techno"
and "power noise", often with a fairly free structure similar to more chaotic "IDM" and
"breakcore" artists. The term was coined by the act Winterkälte when it was used as
the name for one of their albums.
Artists: Enduser, Hecate, Tuareg Geeks