[Fabryka] Where does industrial music come from?
Updated by Draconina on 09/01/2007 15:38
Fabryka Music Magazine covered:
- industrial rock bands (see the list)
- industrial metal bands (see the list)


[This article hasn't been updated since 2003]

The differences between industrial and industrial rock
Industrial rock should be kept separate from industrial, the core genre. The former appeared much later, and was only slightly inspired by industrial. It can be said that IR was created by adding industrial to raw, aggressive guitar music. IR is an easier listening and it's got more guitars, being less avantgarde and electronic at the same time. It usually has some vocals, while original industrial was based on sounds and infrequent comments. We shall focus on this a bit later.

...in the case of IR is long past. Between 1989 and 1994 many good bands surfaced, with those already in the scene releasing great albums. In my opinion, the best era for IR began after 1988 (thanks to Ministry and their followers). Fear Factory, Godflesh and Skrew (among others) brought a lot of metal into the genre. [photo: Skrew]

Rock is rock - it's all about energy. On the other hand, the idea of the music is showing how this energy can be tapped by music software, samplers, sequencers, etc. Still, the most important element is the guitar riff, the more predatory it is, the better. As an example, the song can begin with a sampled dialogue from a movie, joined by drums. This is accompanied by a looped melodic riff, usually guitar or synthetic. The song evolves upon such structures and additional samples. Its tempo can also be increased, or the so called "wall-of-sound" (a cacophony of samples and riffs, noisy but not chaotic) effect can be used. [photo: Pitchshifter]

You should remember the following names: Bill Kennedy, Sean Beavan, Neil Kernon, Rick Rubin, Dave Ogilvie, Trent Reznor, Keith LaBlanck, Mark 'Flood' Ellis, John Fryer, Genesis P-Orridge, Al Jourgensen, Charlie Clouser, Jimmy "Foetus" Thirlwell, Alan Moulder, Martin Atkins. [photo: Trent Reznor]

Industrial rock can be found in labels like: Wax Trax! (bought by and incorporated into TVT Records), TVT Records, Rough Trade, Earache, RoadRunner, Sire, 21st Circuity, Re-Constriction, Slip Disc, Bile Style, Fifth Colvmn Records, Energy Records, Van Richter, Nothing Records, DHR, Devotion, Columbia, Play It Again Sam, Mute, Music For Nations, Metropolis Records, Cleopatra Records, Sanctuary Records.
Industrial and noise are also present in catalogues of Cold Meat Industry, Cop International, Ant-Zen, Metropolis Rec., Nettwerk, Nuclear Blast, Offbeat, SPV, Zothommog, Decibel.
Poland: Metal Mind Rec. (an "indu" tag appearing before the material's ID), true industrial: War Office Propaganda.

Industrial music was (and still is, usually) created with technology and electronics, but it's not limited to these media. You can create industrial using such live and simple instruments like a washboard or a snare. The music consists of two elements - a lot of electronica and raw sounds, similar to those found in punk rock or heavy metal. According to this, we can come up with the following definition of industrial music:

Industrial as a music genre is characterized by a hard, solid sound of percussion instruments, electronic melodies, distorted vocals and an overall cut-and-paste design. Performers are usually white, full of anger, alienated, rebelling, touched by pain and overpowering control. Dance industrial peruses repeating patterns and group chants based on a verse-verse-chorus-verse scheme.
The foreground is occupied by the beat or the drums. Many industrial tracks begin with synthetically generated beats, continuing in a stable, repeating pattern. Although the majority of industrial tracks are not really dance-friendly, they might seem good dance tracks due to the overwhelming beats.

Industrial borrows heavily on electronica, composing the body of a song. These could be looped melodies or samples taken from various sources (usually movies).
Other frequently used elements are: metallic, dehumanized sounds produced by operating machines (e.g. sounds made by tools, metal objects, drills, jackhammers, moving cyborgs or robots, factory machinery and very often the sound of compressed air from some hydraulic systems or the sound of machine gun shells hitting the floor).
The last element is the technique of song creation. It it always done using the cut-and-paste method, originating from the software commands (usually ctrl+x, ctrl+v).

Different tracks stay bound together on specific strata, signaling their multilevel structuring.
The blueprint for an industrial track looks more or less like that: repeating hums of different frequencies, shards of dialogues, voices sifted through guitar-effects, shocking and disgusting lyrics combined with graphical visuals based on war atrocities, medical photographs, pornography - generally, everything that can cause some sick interest. Simon Raynolds remarked correctly that "groups generating noise are closely connected with psychopathies." Therefore, industrial music is defined as "dehumanized."
It's worth noticing that technology became so user friendly that everyone who knows how to run a sequencer, some music software and how to connect a microphone to a fuzztone, could easily and quickly produce a neat industrial track. The genre enjoyed significant ferment between 1991 and 1996.

Industrial (the music genre) came into being (and was later propagated) thanks to Genesis P-Orridge in 1975. It happened in a cellar (where else?), in Hacknay - a district of London. The cellar was called the Death Factory, because a mass grave of people who died in the 17th century because of the plague could be found in a nearby park. In such a neighbourhood, Genesis tried to give music a new face. His broodings led him to a singular conclusion - there is no slavery in the cotton field anymore. Slavery moved to factories, with people repeating activities till they dropped, surrounded and dominated by noisy machines. We live in an industrialized society. Therefore, new music came to life as industrial, and the first industrial record released through Industrial Records is "The Second Annual Report" by Throbbing Gristle, fronted by P-Orridge. Industrial Records became later the home for groups like Cabaret Voltaire, S.P.K or Clock DVA.

"Noise was born in the 19th century, coming to life through machines. Today, noise is triumphant over Man's sensitivity. (...) The sound in music is too limited in its multiplicity (...) We have to break the limited circle of sounds and rule the infinite variety of noises." - These are Luigi Russolo's words. His concept was based on the Futurist Music Manifesto of 1911 by Balill Pratell, who wrote: "music must represent the spirit of the folk, the spirit of the huge industrial combines, trains, ships, automobiles and aeroplanes." Russolo invented such instruments as the Whistler, the Burner and the Croaker, each of them generating a certain level of noise. [photo: Luigi Russolo]

If we take into account that industrial music was initiated by Genesisa P-Orridge, who was also a member of an art group called COUM Transmissions, the connections between industrial and are seem clear. In 1969 Genesis met then 16-year-old dark-haired Cosey Fanni Tutti, drawn into Throbbing Gristle as a guitarist. She also became his lover and collaborator in many artistic acts committed by COUM Transmissions. The troupe's shows were very frivolous to say the least - the performances consisted of self-mutilation, urine drinking, masturbation, sexual intercourses. The aim was to expose the taboos that surround sex, rituals and shamanism since time immemorial. P-Orridge pierced his scrotum with a needle, injecting the blood back into his forearm veins, or he masturbated with chicken heads. Industrial music is used to this day as the background to a vast array of performances, happenings, theatrical shows or short documentaries. [photo: Throbbing Gristle].

Dadaists. "Dada" (French, a term describing a toy or the first words uttered by a child) was an avantgarde movement in art and literature, created in Switzerland in 1916 (in Zurich, Tristian Tzara and the animators of the Cabaret Voltaire club mock art, politics, customs and common knowledge). It was meant to oppose logic, ethical and moral standards and, praising imagination, fantasy, unconventionality, spontaneity, creativity and improvisation. The dadaist poets were not worried by the nonsense they created. Dadaist art was about mockery. The dada artists mocked themselves, created absurd pieces, with their overarching idea of a rebellion against tradition and the aesthetic canons of art and literature. Futurists believed in the future, dadaists believed in nothing, not even in their own art. One of the manistestos discussed art creation using the collage technique. "Put words into a hat, stir it, pull some random ones out, put them together however you want, and you have a dada poem." Such pieces were clusters of inarticulate sounds or loose automatically connected wordstreams (e.g. Bruno Jasienski and his "Shoe in the Buttonhole"). The same kind of art came from William S. Burroughs (below).

In fine arts, buffoonish and ironic pictures were created, using collage and assemblage of newspaper clippings, rags, plastic, glass, straw and photography (trick photos). Children naivety and deformed beauty were all the rage. The literary theme became irrelevant - the contrastive play of colours and shapes was what mattered. A new branch of art and architecture was born - town-planning. Painters were mostly ironic (e.g. Duchamp gave Gioconda a moustache). For his paintings, Picabia used materials like feathers, wires or matches; he also used objects (using objects was broadly implemented in surrealism, which followed dadaism). [photo: dadaism]

In music, the focus was on the "mathematical" design of a song, full of cold calculation, pure intellect and extreme formal concepts. The traditional minor-major scale was forfeited, together with the rule that a song must be composed in a certain key. The atonal scale with 12 half-tones was introduced by Arnold Schonberg, Alan Berg and Anton Webern. Harmonies and melodies were crushed, with contrast and dissonance highlighting the uneasy, nervous and suprising expression.

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]

SUBCULTURE (in Poland)
Hidden. Industrialists have several parties, fanzines, meetings. Everything is powered by their own money, so many projects cease to exist after 3-6 attempts.
No professional press is published or obtainable in music shops. Information about the industrial scene is gathered from magazines released in USA, Germany, UK and of course, the Net. In Krakow, Klub Re bravely offered some avantgarde-industrial-noise parties and performances.

Poland: fanzines are self-financed (it means they are dying out after 2,3 issues because of a serious lack of sponsorship). It's hard to find any sponsors, because it's not popular enough. Printing is most expensive, next comes advertising. A vicious circle. It's better to make websites and reach the few interested people for free. Recommended zines: Syndrom, Cold (both exclusively industrial).

The party uniform: some people prefer Genesis P-Orridge's looks - "military style", with leather extras. Colours - usually black, green or camo. Other versions include "Reznor style", "Jourgensen style", "Pitchshifter style", "Skinny Puppy style", etc. - ripping off an idol's style is popular and accepted. You can take overalls and gas masks to a party. The clothing must be raw, simple, aggressive and hard. You won't find goth lace or hip-hop trousers with a lowered crotch.
Shoes: heavy leather boots. But you can experiment.
Haircuts: extravagant, avantgarde, shocking - whatever colour you like, as long as it's visible. Sharp contrasts are welcome, half black, half red and other combinations as well. The hair is frequently shredded, dreadlocked, ponytailed (in the middle of one's head), shaved on the sides with a mohawk, and so on - generally, punk hairstyles are preferred. The Germans, Brits and Americans are pretty inventive here.
Make up: heavy, sometimes on men as well.
The West knows fans of industrial and indurock or electro-goth are known as "rivetheads."

The power of impact (Poland)
Probably not a single noteworthy Polish label is interested in promoting an artist with an industrial, noise or indurock background. The label won't make money on such music, so it's not economically acceptable to invest in such bands. If there are any industrial bands, they play gigs and create music on an amateur level. It's probably a bit easier for those who play metal-industrial, as metal music is pretty popular in Poland even now, so such musicians can always "plug into" the metal genre and sell / promote their music.

Thanx go to...
...Vesper for his English translation of the whole article. The man is well known of his open mind, the Internet engagement and radio activities. Check his Myspace profile and let your industrial rock music be played on Radiomancer radio show hosted by Vesper! Great, great job!!! :))

Helpful links
The Futurist Manifesto Bailla Pratella :: Filippo T. Marinetti
Throbbing Gristle
Arnold Schoenberg
Twelve-tone technique
Industrial music
Industrial metal
Industrial rock

[Text: Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, 2003. Pictures: Internet]