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[Fabryka] Where does industrial music come from?

William S. Burroughs contributed to the way of industrial music making. His technique of writing was based on purely artistic precepts - create a text, cut it into pieces, connect them in random order and record the result. The writer used this method with his voice recordings and television presentations (therefore, movie dialogues are frequently used in industrial music). [photo: William S. Burroughs]

The futurist movement had also an immense influence on the industrial culture. Its main concept was the opposition to rationalism (in France), Romanticism (in Poland) and Classicism (in Italy). Sentimentalism and stability was opposed by dynamics, past was opposed by the future, and mechanical noise was put above the beautiful, harmonic and deft romantic pieces.
The father of futurism, created in 1909, Philippo T. Marinetti, an Italian poet. The Futurists considered themselves as the avantgarde of new times, breaking bonds with the past, looking for new ways of expression. They were fascinated by fighting tradition, the urge to begin everything anew, irrational factors, spontaneity and technological progress, urban growth, the dynamic pace of city life - everything that can be summed up as "Municipality, Mass, Machine." Italian futurism connected the above with glorifying brutality, misogyny (hatred towards women), aggression, bravery and the cult of the superhuman (a clear borrowing from Nietzsche). This led a lot of the Italian futurists to joining the fascist movement. [photo: the Futurist Music Manifesto, B. Pratella]

The first electronic instrument was invented in 1876 by Elisha Grey. Thaddeus Cahill invented Telharmonium in 1906, a 200-ton instument that influenced Hammond, who created the famous Hammond organ in 1929. Commercial electronic instruments were available from 1920 onwards, with Edgard Varese, a famous avantgarde composer, using them in his music. In 1931, Leon Theremin produced a keyboard instrument called the thereminvox, able to play series of repeating sounds phrases - probably the world's first sequencer. Musicians kept on dreaming about something smaller, more handy; a box that would generate sounds, noises according to the wishes of the composer.
Another musical breakthrough was the arrival of the tape recorder. The first one was presented in 1898 by Valdemar Poulsen, a Danish inventor. The device carried electromagnetic impulses between the microphone and a steel piano string. Music created with this then-advanced equipment was published in 1948. Pierre Schaeffer, a sound engineer used the sound of steam coming from a train in his etude, in connection to the modern industry, praised so much by the Futurists. Once the electronic instruments and tape recorders were popular, reading from notes and lengthy practice were no longer needed to play a part of a song correctly.

Simple synths showed up in the early 50s. It all started with the RCA Synthesizer, replaced later by Moog and Buchl machines in the 60s, with a renewed interest in Hammond's organs (the 70s), and Roland, Korg and Akai synths dominating the market in the 80s. Since the 90s, it's all about computer technology, music software (Cubase, Cakewalk, Ableton and others) powered by samples recorded with synths from other decades. Cabaret Voltaire promoted a technique called looping, creating loops of samples resulting in a specific music structure, usually used as a background element. They added sounds of colliding metal objects and primitive percussion instruments.
Recording studios were present usually in conjunction with radio studios, e.g. the British BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the Northwest German Studio in Cologne.
BBC R.W. created soundtracks and special effects for radio and television (e.g. for science fiction shows).

Throbbing Gristle got their own sound by building instruments themselves (e.g. the Gristle-izer) or using guitar effects. Cossey never learned to play guitar, and she considered this an asset: "I can produce sounds that no one who knows how to play this instrument ever would." TG used instruments in a childlike manner, ignorant of the mastery of others. What's more, the instruments were out of tune, and Genesis played his bass in a leather glove. The only member of TG with some knowledge of technology and synths was Chris Carter.
Another group that had an immense influence on industrial music is the German Einstuerzende Neubauten ("Collapsing New Buildings") - they took a direct approach to industrial: the instruments they use to make music are hammers, concrete mixers, welders among other, more traditional instruments.
EN was followed by groups like D.A.F. and Die Krupps in Germany, Test Departament and Whitehouse in the UK and S.P.K. and Foetus (Jim Thirlwell, who also had his 15 minutes of fame). In 1979, Foetus, working at that time as a Virgin Records store salesman organized a meeting of Throbbing Gristle fans with the band, and thanks to his contacts with Peter Christopherson (a member of the band) he produced the records of Coil, he also helped Einstuerzende Neubauten achieve popularity in England, and remixed songs by NIN, Pantera, Front 242, Prong and Megadeth in the 90s. Foetus admitted his inspiration to be John Cage, an avantgarde musician. The latter used pianos in an unconventional way - e.g. he put cutlery under the strings while he played. [photo: Foetus]

The dadaist movement was focused on experimenting, so Cabaret Voltaire members used tape recorders and simple synths in the beginning of the 70s. During their shows, they used movies as visual backgrounds, and thus they can be called the pioneers of the audio-visual style, used so frequently by many industrial groups from the 80s and 90s.
The style is meant to confuse and entrance - sounds and images assault the audience from all directions, changing rapidly before they can be identified and decoded by the brain. Industrial music bears traces of shaman, ritual and oriental music, mainly of Arabic origin with the characteristic chant of the muezzin under soaring minarets. Entangling such motiffs in electronic music was originated by Cabaret Voltaire as well.

The music avantgarde influenced industrial mainly in the context of composing and presented genres - such was the music proposed by Zoviet France, Hafler Trio, P16D4 or Nurse with Wound. On the other hand, the composer Luc Ferrari began to add natural sounds to industrial, distorted as much as it was necessary to make them unrecognizable, creating the atmosphere of a narrative drama. People experimented with extreme noise - especially groups like Non, Controlled Bleeding and Merzbow delighted in that.

The punk and industrial movements were born same time, same place - 70s London. It was not unusual then for the two genres to meet. There was no union, however, as industrial was too heavy, too provocative, too difficult and shocking even for the punks. Siouxie Sioux from the Banshees was warned by Billy Idol before going to a Throbbing Gristle concert: "Beward of that P-Orridge. He's a lunatic." Genesis and COUM Transmissions were widely known - many feared their lack of taboos on stage, others were fascinated. Regardless of that, a semi-industrial band called Suicide toured with punk legends The Clash and The Slits.

The industrial scene began to go commercial around 1983. Thanks to MTV, the public was easily accessible, but the channel was not interested with very ambitious artistic enterprises. One cannot forget that people were partying a lot to new romantic and electro pop. Synths were already well established in popular music, and the younger generation wanted to have fun to tunes different than the ones their hippie or glam rock parents used to listen to. Thus, a space for groups like Nitzer Ebb, KMFDM, Die Krupps, D.A.F. or Front 242 was created. The Germans from KMFDM were brought up on music and art by Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, but, as Sasha Konietzko said: "we did those things, we covered our bodies with blood mixed with flour, we shot TVs, we set the stage on fire... but it all became boring. We wanted to create new guidelines, new songs." Such "songs" attracted also Ministry's Al Jourgensen around 1985.

Al is a remarkable character, as he was (and still is) involved in numerous industrial rock projects. Jourgensen collaborated with Trent Reznor (1,000 Homo DJs), Nivek Ogr (as Skinny Puppy), members of Front 242 (as Revolting Cocks), Cabaret Voltaire (as Acid Horse) Jello Biafra - the vocalist of Dead Kennedys (as Lard) and Ian MacKay (a member of Fugazi, together with Al in Pailhead). Such collaborations were pretty fashionable in the late 80s. Many supergroups were created back then, to mention Pigface (musicians from Ministry without Jourgensen + NIN, Skinny Puppy, Killing Joke, The rollins Band and The Jesus Lizard), Excessive Force (KMFDM + My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult) or Cyberactif (Front Line Assembly + Skinny Puppy). [photo: Ministry]

The late 80s brought about a merger of industrial and heavy metal, as new musicians joining industrial bands had roots in metal groups (e.g. Mike Scaccia of Rigor Mortis fame playing with Ministry on Psalm 69). Die Krupps founded the Atom H label for crossover-metal musicians, incorporating many hard and heavy guitar elements into their music. Sampling and looping of guitar riffs is a novelty, making industrial more accessible, and led to the creation of industrial rock. In the early 90s, the guitar comeback came in unison with grunge. On one hand, people got into Nirvana, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine and Jane's Addiction. On the other, they found industrial sampling among the guitar onslaught generated by Ministry, Skrew, Chemlab, Pitchshifter, Gravity Kills, Stabbing Westward, Filter, Godflesh, Prong and Nine Inch Nails. [photo: Nine Inch Nails]

The advancement of computer technology speeds up with every passing year. Cover albums appear on the market, and old industrial or indurock bands leave their old stuff behind, release Best Of albums or change their music. The hype is to meddle with movie music (Spawn, Mortal Kombat, The Crow, Lost Highway) or game soundtracks (Test Drive 5, Wing Commander: the Prophecy, Quake I/II/III, Doom 3, etc.). There is also a lot of post-industrial record producers. Others turn to ambient, pop or noise projects - searching, or just making money through popular but retarded music. We shall see what's going to happen next. Industrial is based on electronics, so there's hope for a second coming. [photo: Quake II]

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