"In the gap caused by the failure of punk rock's apocalyptic rhetoric,
[the term] 'industrial' seemed like a good idea."--Jon Savage, London
Experimental. Aggro. Techno. Cutups. Alternative. Noise. Ambient.
Musique Concrete. Sound Collages. Avant Garde. Performance Art.
Difficult. Improv. Industrial?
So many names and so many labels. It gets confusing when from all
around us, publications continue to spew out more complex and
different names in an attempt to pinpoint a source, while at the same
time converging on one obvious thought: industrial. To demonstrate
this idea, we could even trace these origins of industrial back to
dadaism if we wanted to. This FAQ file is less an attempt to force
people into their place and more to widen the flow of information.
Sharing the precious information allows us to experience more in our
learning than by strange militaristic actions.
It is generally accepted that the term "industrial music" was coined
in 1976 when members of Throbbing Gristle formed Industrial Records.
It was to be a vehicle to explore a new form of expression through
analysis, presentation and aural stimulation. All of the individuals
involved used different means to achieve their goals, but the ideas
they shared were on common ground. Examples of early people on the
industrial label include Monte Cazzazza, Clock DVA, Cabaret Voltaire ,
Throbbing Gristle, Leather Nun, and William S. Burroughs. Although
critics felt they were too deviant, their brand of confrontation
signaled a desire for a change in the political and social system
currently in place. However bleak and distressing, their music was
merely a reflection of the society that surrounded them. But what's
really important is that they cultivated ideas on topics ranging from
serial killing to sex and censorship as well as countless others which
are not encouraged in genteel discussions. This was the first strike
against the information war launched by the propaganda leaders and it
positioned them as more than just a musical movement, but an
alternative culture. To paraphrase, these essential ideas are the
makeup for the movement:
Organizational Autonomy. A conscious choice to record independently.
To preserve the intention of music and to take it away from the
tainted and greedy major record companies who enjoyed success at
Access to Information. With the perception of control techniques
leaving any physical boundaries and moving into the realm of the mind
and the mouth, it was of vital importance to discuss and be aware at
Use of Synthesizers and Anti-Music. Using found materials and
unconventional means of composition industrial music was more
antagonistic to its intended audience, than being music true itself.
It was "sounds without content".
Extra-Musical Elementrs. Because television has become a more powerful
agent of control than any pop music song, the use of films and video
arrangements often accompanied these aural counter attacks.
Shock Tactics. The final blow in the scheme for control has to be the
use of hitting home what you have to say, making sure that it gets
noticed. By far, this last technique is what is most often used by
modern day "industrialists" and most probably the connecting puzzle
piece that gave them such a distinction at all. Unfortunately, we've
all witnessed death and war so often in this day and age, that we're
far too jaded to care, rendering such an attempt almost useless.
Does this mean that industrial is now dead? Perhaps. But it cannot
prevent the presence of their past actions from being muted or lost.
In the early to late 80's a number of other groups began to interpret
some of the audio ideas to formulate their own territorial grounding.
Mixing the use of new technology, imaginative found (or homemade)
materials, and the incorporation of percussion and rhythm helped guide
it into the new decade. Examples of some of these bands would include:
Non, SPK, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Test Department, Laibach, Rhythm
and Noise, Ono, and Trial.
By the end of the 80's, "industrial music" had more than just changed,
it had more or less, continued to progress and evolve alongside its
society. These days, it has often come to be known as electronic
instrumentation used to create a form of dance beats blended with
harsh noises and sound bites such as Skinny Puppy , Revolting Cocks,
Ministry, Front 242 and Front Line Assembly. Today, there are
musicians who create industrial music from both sides of the fence;
and the list is ever growing.
The fascination with noise and machinery which is so much a part of
what one tends to think of as "classic" Industrial music had historic
precedents. In the late 1800's ideophones (noises, concrete sounds)
were used in orchestral music, Luii Russolo performed using his
"intonarumore" (noise machines) (1913) and around 1920 Erik Satie used
pistols and typewriters in the music for his surrealist play Parade.
The twenties also brought the "Futurist" and "Machine Music" schools
in both Italy and France. Other important historical figures include
Edgard Varese, whose "Ionisation" (1930) was the first piece of
Western music for percussion instruments alone and who produced an
important tape piece called "Poeme Electronique" in 1958; the "Musique
Concrete" works of Pierre Schaeffer and others (tape pieces made
exclusively from electronically altering recordings of natural sounds
like water drops, glass breaking, etc. He was also responsible for
probably the earliest 'loop' which used groves cut into vinyl
records); and John Cage, whose "First Construction in Metal" (for
metallic percussion) and "Imaginary Landscape No. 4" \ (for 12 radios)
were landmarks in American music.