Industrial music for industrial people

When the black metal scene started to produce “ritual music” I was happy to be able to listen to other things than metal. I got in good contact with Mortiis and when the Swedish label Cold Meat Industry contacted him to discuss the release of his second album (“Keiser Av En Dimensjon Ukjent” 1995) I learned about CMI. CMI was founded in 1987, when I learned about them, they had about 20 releases available, most of them sold out. CMI was still a small label and Roger Karmanik still corresponded with his customers, giving me tips about what I would like. I bought, and loved, releases of In Slaughter Natives, Memorandum, Mental Destruction, but most notably Raison d’Être, Deutsch Nepal and Morthond/Morthound. The latter made “dark ambient” in the very recognisable CMI-style. CMI also had harder material (Mental Destruction is already quite loud), but Karmanik’s own Brighter Death Now (harsh noise) has never been my cup of tea. CMI also had mailorder of considerable size and I started to explore the scene that would later turn outr to be called “industrial”. I got in contact with the German label that was then called “L.O.K.I.-Foundation” (nowadays “Loki-Found”) where I got the legendary debut cd of Endvra (and the demo they released under the monicker Abraxas), the debut lp of Turbund Sturmwerk, Blood Axis, that sort of stuff. Also I found The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud. During the “ritual music” time I liked the medievalish sound and with TMLHBAC it seemed that there was more professionally-sounding ‘medieval music’ available, so I made a short shift towards a more ‘gothic’ musical taste with bands such as Engelsstaub, Ataraxia, Faith and The Muse and the like. Slowly but surely the size of the industrial (and related scene) started to become clear to me when I ran into new mailorders with gigantic lists of bands that I never heard off.

But let me make a jump back in time. CMI was founded in 1987 like I said, that is amazingly far back in time! That was just after Venom and well before the second black metal wave that I thought I was pretty early part of. 1987, Man, I was 12 years old when CMI was founded! The thing is that only now I realise how old industrial music actualy is. I wrote the story about goth first, because I thought goth was older than industrial. Recently (februari 2011) I got a compilation with the project Gerechtigkeits Liga on it, which, according to the booklet, was founded in 1981. When playing Gerechtigkeits Liga radio on I got music from as early as 1979! This means that modern industrial music is as old as gothic.
Thinking back, this is of course not that surprising. Philips (yes, the Dutch firm) already experimented with electronic music in the 1950’ies. In the 1960’ies equipment to create electronic music became available for the public and since 1967 there were (proto) “ambient” or “soundscapes” projects and artists such as Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultz or Brian Eno, not to forget the famous Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre. Pretty soon there were darker electronic projects. I have the idea that the ‘electronic punk’ band Suicide should definately be in story that goes from punk to industrial music. Though closer to industrial, the band sure looked like a punkband. Famous and surely influential was Kraftwerk (1970). More extreme were (still relatively punky) bands such as Cabaret Voltaire (1973) and Throbbing Gristle (1975). The latter released their material on their own Industrial Records (1976) which had the slogan that I used to title this little story. Electronic music went in several directions, some of which I may tell a story about lateron. Here I want to continue with the projects which took their inspiration in the dark sides of life.

To the present
Some of the projectst that I already mentioned still exist or exist again. From 1978 on projects were started that in many more cases are still there. Generally, this seems to have been a fruitfull period for industrial music. Clock DVA (1978), SPK (1978), Nocturnal Emissions (1980) and Laibach (1980) are of these oldies. As early as 1980 the “power electronics” project Whitehouse was founded, electronic music became much more extreme.

I knew most of the previously mentioned bands only by name. Throbbing Gristle seems to have been the inspiration of Roger Karmanik to make his own music under the monickers Lille Roger, Bomb The Daynursery, but mostly Brighter Death Now. It were Karmanik’s extreme electronics that I skipped in my early CMI days, I was more into dark and depressive music, CMI-style dark ambient was perfect a the time. Pretty soon I was even happier with what I called “mystical industrial”, the victorious sounds of Blood Axis and Turbund Sturmwerk. Like I said, for a period I aimed my arrows at other kinds of (gothic) music. Electro/EBM (in a way some sort of industrial), medievalish things, a little bit of gothic rock, neofolk and through “martial industrial” (that I will treat together with neofolk later) I found my way back to industrial music. I (re)discovered projects that I knew before, such as Söldnergeist, Drape Excrement, Predominance, Ex.Order that I knew from the State-Art 7″s in 1997 and 1998 (I came in contact with Marco when he had Mortiis shirts printed under the labelname Itsemurrah Arts) and I realised that not all noise was high-pitched unstructured tonal terror. I started to find more noise that I like, I rediscovered the Tesco label from Germany (founded in 1987!) and went to industrial concerts and festivals where a lot of the old crowd still goes around, many people are older than myself, probably of the second wave of industrial music and may not (or perhaps they did) have made a little excursion around the gothic scene.

In some regards the gothic and the industrial scene seem two different worlds. It is easy to tell the audience of one from the other. There is a lot of overlap in audience of course, since thematically the scenes are somewhat alike. Industrial seems to go a lot further in extremity, not only in sound, but in particular in apparel. Early bands have flirted with themes such as serial killers and extreme politics. A taboobreaking band such as Laibach have videos in which they wear WWII uniforms. The point that more than a few artists of today seem not enough tongue-in-cheek in their (political) extremism which makes the industrial scene frowned upon by many. Like I said in my little story about gothic music, it is where politics seem to go too far in one direction, there is no longer room in the tolerant gothic scene.

‘My part’ of the industrial scene goes in a direction that I personally like. Tradionally noise projecs such as Haus Arafna or Thorofon started to make more ‘industrial disco’ kind of music, “angstpop” the term seems to be in the first case. Something fresh of these oldies, more accessible, but still with an industrial twist. Geneviève Pasquier (the female half of Thorofon / The Music Wreckers) has a solo project under her own name with a very girly appearance, but very harsch live performances, something between industrial and electropop. Nice!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *