I always say that I have never been much of a magazine reader. I do not really care much what artists that I listen to have to say. Still, when I was looking for something the other week, I ran into a firm pack of “fanzine”, “zine”s, “magazine”s and similar publications. The peak lays in the years 1994 to 1996, the time that I shifted from metal to industrial music. I was surprised to see how many magazines that I have that feature both these scenes. There are also some classic interviews. I might want to read back a couple of them some time. Here are some covers for your enjoyment.
Yesterday I needed a cassette tape to check if I connected my tape player correctly. Since then I have been delving through my demo collection. I thought it would be nice to share some covers with you. When you can read an address, the chance is small that it is still correct. These demos are from about 1991 to 2000. Contrary to my ancient flyer publication of a while back, I did not use the scanner this time. It was a ‘quicky’ using my camera-phone, so no guarantees for quality. I have not checked if these demos are on Discogs, if all projects still exist or exist again and I picked them relatively at random, but of course some brought back memories so they were easiest to pick. There may be something for many of you here!
Many years ago I wrote for a metal magazine called “Battle Helm”. I took care of “the goth pages”, a section with non-metal music. For the website I made some kind of introduction into ‘goth music’, saying a few things about the styles and presenting photos of the audiences. As you can see in the other stories, “gothic” is an umbrella term, a “scene” covering a whole range of music. When you are familiar with the scene a little, it is often relatively easy to tell what is the main kind of music that a person listens to just by looking at him or her. Somehow people like to extract their identity from some (sub)(sub)culture that they are in. Now things are of course not so black and white. (Almost) all people listen to different kinds of ‘goth’ or even music from other scenes. They might just like the ‘look and feel’ of one of these genres, dress up according to the concert they go to or just find their own style regardless of what other people look like. Especially with the average age of goths getting higher, the number of people looking (relatively) normal raises (most people do not go to work with a mohawk) and it seems that the older you get, the more varried your musical taste becomes and the less obvious it is to adopt the ‘style’ of one of them. In any case, at a festival such as the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig (annually at Whitsun) almost all gothic subcultures come together. Let us have a look and try to put these people in convenient boxes. Most of the photos that I use are from the WGT photogallery. With this I mean no offense to the people on them or the people who took them. Drop me a note when I crossed a line.
As you probably know, gothic rose somewhere in the 1980′ies when black was the colour of fashion and people has The Cure like haircuts. That look is still present, usually among the older goths.
Do you see that guy on the far right? That is the genuine “gruftie”, probably a ‘deathrocker’, a vintage kind of figure. Your eyes probably were first attrackted to the group that the photo was made of I guess. The group is rather typical for a young and moder gathering of goths. The bright colours are something of the last decade. Initially these people were referred to as “techno goths”. They listened to EBM, but also to The Prodigy. Nowadays? I do not know, but the style is becoming general and bright colours and yellow mohawks also turn up at industrial concerts. In any case, the group is obviously about half as young as the genuine gruftie, which is the case with most of the people looking like this.
But of course I should not forget to tell you that there is another ‘vintage gothic’ look. Goth originally sprang forth from punk and the real punk look is also still present.
When thinking about goths, many people nowadays more likely will have something like this in mind.
It is this medievalish / romantic style that brought the sympathy of the general audience. Nothing offensive, obviously created with care and money. There is not much saying what music these people listen to, but it will probably not be any of the more extreme forms of music. Probably a medieval gothic rock band such as Faith & The Muse or something. There are many, many of these goths nowadays. They are often of the first new wave of goth, so now in their 30′ies, working, having a family and not needing eye-catching (such as strange hair, tattoos or piercings) when not at a concert. It is a truely romantic style.
Quite similar, but when you look at the hair, you already see that this style is for people who do not want to be ‘not goth’ in ‘normal life’. It is still very goth, but can mostly be seen among younger people who do not need to apply for jobs or please an employer.
Especially at a festival such as the WGT, the styles get more extreme. I have the idea that this has little to do with music.
These gasmasks are getting more and more popular.
Back to music styles. There are a few danceable kinds of gothic, EBM (or electronic body music) and electro (and many more terms). The audience of these kinds of music often look similar to industrial and neofolk audience. The style is simple, all black and often uniform-like clothing and army boots.
Somehow you can tell an industrial listener from an EBM or electro listener. The industrial fellow more often has a shaven head and looks a bit more military. Of course these differences are also in the details. Bandshirts (of course) or the use of symbols. In any case, it was not easy to get images of the more military style of the industrial, martial industrial and neofolk audience. This is probably because they do not look interesting enough for a photographer and, even in Leipzig, their performances are much smaller (and many of these people try to stay away from “the gothics” as far as possible). Some smaller pictures from different sources therefor.
Uniforms, or rather uniform-like clothing, I said it. Offensive in combination with other symbolism to some. Since neofolk is easy-listening music, it is relatively more popular and the style (or the audience) is more fashionable. There are more ‘real’ uniforms at those kinds of concerts.
I probably forgot a style or two, but these are the ones I could easily present to you. I hope you enjoyed it. Now do not become prejudiced by my black and white story. Not everyone who listens to neofolk wears a uniform and not every uniform listens to neofolk, but just to give you an idea of the variety the clothing styles and their (possible) link to musical styles.
I am not much of a person who collects a lot of things or who cannot throw anything away. Somehow I have collected quite a load of flyers over the years though. For a while I wanted to scan some of those so I can post them, but this is (of course) quite a bit of work. In the end I did a ‘quick and dirty’ scanjob and give you here a gallery with ‘classical flyers’, forgotten bands or just scans of flyers to show what these things looked like.
Did you know that at some point Cold Meat Industry actually had a baseball/footbal kind of collectors cards? You know, these cards that you wanted to get all? I never did, here are the ones that I did get. The cards have texts on the back, but my scanner did not like the tiny letters, so just the fronts for your enjoyment.
I have not found an easy way to separate the flyers from the CMI cards, but they start after the fat ass.
The term “neofolk” was supposedly invented by a Berlin record shop to describe the sound of the band Death In June. Douglas P. liked the term and started to use it himself. In basis, neofolk needs to be nothing more than a guitar and vocals, but of course the sound and more especially the attitude/lyrics/image make neofolk neofolk. Before there was neofolk, a band called Changes already made this kind of music, including the lyrics and image. This band was first founded in 1969, but it was not before their third incarnation before material was released. This song is from the “Fire Of Life” album of 1996, but is said to be one of the old songs.
Just listen to the lyrics, it is an attitude that would later make a big part of the neofolk scene. Like I said, it was Death In June that ‘started’ the genre. DIJ was founded in 1980 and initially was more of an industrial band, but soon started to make minimalistic accoustic music (alternated with electronic experiments). In 1984 the following song was released on the album called “Burial”
After that album, Tony Wakeford left DIJ to start his own project Sol Invictus. In the UK there were other bands experimenting with folk-like music, most notably Current 93, but it would take quite a while before the third generation of neofolk artists arose.
My first (conscious) encounter with this third wave was Orplid and their brilliant 1998 album of which I cannot find the song that I am looking for on Youtube. Orplid made fairly dark and nicely heroic music with more tranquil songs and quite some electronic tracks.
The label that released Orplid’s debut found more neofolk bands and soon everything seemed to sound like this:
Much neofolk still sounds like this, I find it quite unimaginary.
In 2000 there suddenly was Ostara, a band risen from the ashes of Strength Through Joy, one of the early neofolk bands. Ostara took a much more poppy direction. Initially I did not like “Secret Homeland”, but it grew on me. After Ostara the poppy direction was taken over by a large (again too large) part of the neofolk scene.
This was also about the time that I lost interest in most neofolk material. Ostara did some nice things (before they became a poprock band), Orplid remained interesting, but the larger part of the ever increasing stream of neofolk was not for me.
The first EBM that I heard was In Absentia. However they have not released anything since 1995, there are still several tracks to be found on Youtube.
The danceable style was quite new to me, but I liked it quite a bit. My following EBM project was Wumpscut, something a lot louder.
Wumpscut had softer tracks and tracks harder than what you just heard, more industrial. I got a few of Wumpscut’s (mini)albums, but on “Embryodead” (1997) the music became uninteresting and from later albums I never really heard the energy of the old style. In fact, I still do not know any electro project that comes anywhere near the quality of the early Wumpscut releases. This is one of the main reasons why I seldom listen to electro, EBM or related genres.
A kind of electro that I did like for a while (but also not too many projects) was the German style, especially that of Terminal Choice:
For a short while I had a look at where this music came from. Front 242 has but a few good albums (and at the time, a great many side projects). This is from “06:21:03:11 Up Evil” (1993)
I have heard my share of other electro and ebm in all its varieties (“terror ebm”, “hellectro”, “industrial electro”, etc. etc.), but it is all too soft and too boring for me.
A few remarks to begin with. It will not be possible to give you a very thorough ‘lesson’ in noise with a little bit of text and examples, so just regard this text as an introduction. However I do not find Youtube a very fitting medium to listen to music, it does have some advantages for me. First, YT is quite static, a Myspace page will change tracks more often. Second, YT has become so common that with no effort whatsoever, I can ‘embed’ YT films, while I would have to go through a lot more trouble to have you listen to Myspace tracks. I am not very fond of ‘embedding’, since it means that what you see here, is actually located on another server. I would hate it if people did that with my material, but YT supports it, but the down part is, that when the clip is deleted for whatever reason, I have a broken link om my website. I do not intend to keep checking if the films I link to are still there, but should you find a missing one, just put a comment below and I will see what I can do about it.
It is not since very long that I can actually listen to noise. The main reason is that my first introduction to noise was the chaotic, extreme, unstructured kind. I can still not listen to something like this:
Brighter Death Now does also have material that is better to listen to, but a little too much of this for me to buy his albums. Yet, in the course of time there has been some quite extreme material that I do like. I like a little more structure though and a little more of that rhythm of the Brighter Death Now track. This relatively rhythmical kind of noise I usually describe as “industrial noise”. A good, but still rather extreme form is this:
This kind of noise gets some atmosphere, it is not just a collection of extreme sounds. A project that I really like is Ex.Order, a sideproject of the dark ambient musicians of Inade. Their music is very dark and moody. There is no really good film on YT, but this live performance has some of the good, new material with a fairly good sound.
This relatively tranquil kind of noise, I often describe as “ambient noise”. THE artist in this field is also the artist who showed me that there is also good noise and one of my favourite noise artists: Propergol. Propergol goes from very dark ambient, filmographic soundscapes to extreme outbursts of noise.
Just skip a little through the related tracks for more Propergol material. The older material is also too extreme for me, but the last albums are sublime. Jérôme has a label called Hermetique on which he released great material of Post Scriptvm, Sistrenatus and his many sideprojects.
The good thing about the noise scene is that is still develops. Some projects of old slowly develop towards other kinds of sounds. Two exemples to illustrate this are Thorofon and Haus Arafna.
They started as an extreme noise act, but later the sound got more rhythmical:
and that rhythmical sound became even more ‘discoish’, especially in the following project The Musick Wreckers and the two ‘sideprojects’ Dogpop and Geneviève Pasquier.
The nice thing about Haus Arafna is that the albums contain both harder and softer material (but less and less harder) and especially because of this mix, Haus Arafna has grown to be one of my favourite projects. Mr. and mrs. Arafna also have a very interesting label called Galakthorrö on which they release great music of Herz Jühning, Maska Genetik and a lot of other stuff. Just have a look through my music reviews.
Endnote. Of course these are but a few examples, but it may give you an idea of the variety of noise music and this is only from one scene! There are more styles, weird experimental, absurdly loud, rhythmless or rhythmical, something for anyone who can stand some tonal terrorism.
Oh, that a video is presented on YT does not mean that the artist put it there or that it is an official video, I just took a few examples, I mean no offence when I used illegal material.
This story is a bit out of line for a few reasons. First, in no way it fits within the larger scene of the previous genres that I wrote about. Second, even though I have listed to some projects within it, I did not in the early days. Third, I write this as an outsider. I have never been to houseparties or whatever.
I remember a long, long time ago, in my metal period, I had a discussion with a few guys who listened to “gabber”. I was just growing to be a dark-minded blackmetalhead I abhorred the happy sounds of house music (well, most of it). The reply was that they listened to extreme music and gabber is also extreme music. I did not agree, in fact, I still do not.
Somewhere around 1990 some harder forms of house-music appeared, but the gabber hype started in the Netherlands in 1992 when Rotterdam Records was founded. “Gabber” simply means “buddy”. Listeners of the style liked to call eachother that way and later the word became a name for the musical style. Gabber is characterised by loud, regular beats and a little bit of ‘melody’ and sometimes vocals. Pretty soon, gabber became a style. The audience had shaven skulls, bomber jacks and many army boots; indeed, a bit of a skinhead look. The girls often have similar clothing and the lower part of their hair shaven short. This was not to be the only style, since slick haircuts were soon introduced. Gabber literally exploded and almost an entire generation of youth at some points were gabber. It even became so big that a new style fit for the hit-charts appeared: “happy hardcore”. Whereas normal gabber was already too cheerfull for me, happy hardcore was awfull. The parody became even bigger than the original after only three years of existence of the style. Inspite (or because?) of this, gigantic houseparties were organised weekly and in due time, enormous festivals. A crack in the bulb appeared when a section of the scene was openly racistic and the rightwing corner of the scene appeared in the news. “Bouncing” (jumping around with the right hand up in the air) was forbidden and the rightwingers changed to dresscodes such as orange or certain ‘Scottish’ designs in the inside of the bomber jacks, white laces and later even the numbercodes of the rightwing movement. Both this clash and the overcommercialising of the genre had the bubble explode just about half a decade after it was born.
Like I said, I was not interested in this music at that time. Much later when ‘better versions’ of it appeared my interest was caught.
Reading back, it appeared that already during the early years, new styles appeared that did not have the commercial succes of its parent. As the number of “beats per minute” (BPM) rose and so did the extremity of the sound, styles such as “speedcore” and “terror” arose. There was “darkcore” and “doomcore”. I suppose this happed underground, like the styles were supposed to be. In my view, gabber exploded and died, but I guess that a small underground fraction remained. My ear fell on extreme techno with new things such as “digital hardcore”, an originally German style became better known. “Digital Hardcore Recordings” is the label of Alex Empire, the man behind the most famous (and most boring) DHR project Atari Teenage Riot and the style took the name of the label. More interesting DHR was Ec8or with a nice punk-attitude and Sonic Subjunkies who went more into an extreme form of drum’n’bass (as did Alex Empire under his own name). I also found “speedcore” but this was most of the time still too ‘gabberish’ for me. A few years later I ran into “tekno”, a much better, much more industrial kind of extreme tekno and a scene that seems to be partly inhabitent by (ex-)gabbers, partly by new artists. The Dutch label The Third Movement has made available some interesting material in this style, but at present (early 2011) it seems that tekno is flowing back into the “hardcore” scene in general, the latter reemerged a few years ago and the parties are again as big as in the early days (and the audience is the same?).
1995, I just started to find my way around the gothic scene, I had just dug through the CMI catalogue, ran into industrial projects and labels when I received a flyer of a “gothic” album “Darkness” (1995) of the Danish project In Absentia, their third and last release. This music was something wholly different from the dark ambient sounds that I listened to then. Danceable, quite cheerfull even and with vocals. For a while I was in contact with the band, learning about “electronic body music” or “EBM” as the music appeared to be called, “tapetrading” I got some more of this material. Soon after buying this cd I was at the Staalplaat store in Amsterdam (they are nowadays located in Berlin). Staalplaat mostly sold weird electronics, industrial experiments, much of it not my kind of music. At the time they also had other material from the industrial scene. Going through the racks my eye fell on the album “Music For A Slaughtering Tribe” of Wumpscut (1993) which was labeled “EBM”. Curious if I would like it, I listened to the album. This was miles away from the cheerfull sounds of In Absentia, danceable nonetheless, but very loud music with aggressive vocals. A huge grin appeared on my face and I went home, loved the album and searched for more material of Wumpscut. Wumpscut appeared to hold the middle between a genre that I was not yet familiar with (and which I call “danceable industrial” (“indancetrial”), but which is nowadays called “rhythmic noise” (I don’t like that term)) and “electro”. “Electro” is a derivative of “EBM”, it is a bit darker, more industrial. I learned about a few more proper electro projects, Terminal Choice, Velvet Acid Christ and especially the first was very popular for a while and they played in the Netherlands more than once with their black-metal-like show. None of the project had the power and aggression of Wumpscut and even though some electro sounded alright, I do not have a whole lot of it. Pretty soon (“Embryodead” 1997) Wumpscut got too soft for me too. On the other hand, kindred projects like Noisex and DKF (Deutsch Katholische Feindschaft) made such loud danceable industrial that it was a bit too much for me too.
The term electronic body music was coined by Ralf Hütter of the German electronic band Kraftwerk in 1978 to explain the more physical sound of their album The Man-Machine. DAF from Germany used the term “Körpermusik” (body music) to describe their danceable electronic punk sound. The term was later used in by Belgian band Front 242 in 1984 to describe the music of their EP of that year, No Comment. Front 242 characterized their approach as falling between Throbbing Gristle and Kraftwerk. Nitzer Ebb, influenced by DAF and Cabaret Voltaire, followed soon after. Groups from this era often applied socialist realist aesthetics, with ironic intent. Other prominent groups include Die Krupps, à;GRUMH…, and A Split-Second.
Thus says Wikipedia about the first part (1978-1987) of the history of EBM. For a long time I the idea that Front 242 (started in 1980) not only brought the danceable sound into the industrial scene, but also were the starting point of ‘dance music’ (meaning house, rave, etc.). Kraftwerk made relatively danceable music sometimes, DAF is two years older than Front 242 and “synthpop” (Ultravox) and “disco” had been made for half a decade though. Projects such as DAF and Front 242 mostly had their influence on underground dance music. Front 242 liked to run around on stage in uniforms, DAF (“Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft” by the way) had some controversial lyrics. Like the quote shows, Front 242 used the term “electronic body music” to describe their style. In some ways similar, but when you hear enough of it different in sound is “electro”. SPK has been around since 1978, but it is mostly Skinny Puppy (1982) who set the tone for a whole new subscene. Front Line Assembly (1986) has been very influental too, but their sound is much more sophisticated and softer. Generally, since the beginning there have been projects that are much harder and projects that are softer in sound. There is also still a large synthpop scene, but it looks like it that the electro/EBM part (especially the harder sections) are closer to the industrial scene.
I came in with Wumpscut, who trove heavily on the hard danceable industrial of P-A-L (of whom the 10x greater version of “Concrete Rage” was made by Wumpscut) and similar projects. Still an unsurpassed style. The German electro sound has been quite popular for a few years, but when I did not find enough interesting material, I first looked through the scene of danceable industrial (with Imminent (Starvation), Winterkälte, Ah-Cama Sotz, etc., but also this genre proved only to have a few great releases and many mediocre ones for me.
There are many musical styles which are called “electro”. The most famous is the old-style techno with 4×4 beats, but there are people who call the old electronics “electro” and there are style such as “electropunk” and “electropop” which have nothing to do with the EBM kind of “electro” (and strangely enough “electrotrash” is more house-electro than “electropop”-like). I suppose for that reason the electro that I talk about is nowadays ususally called “electro-industrial”, sometimes “dark electro” and a few months ago I ran into the term “aggrotech” which according to Wikipedia is: “also known as Hellektro, Harsh EBM, or Terror EBM” and a term of about 10 years ago is “cybergoth”.
I have been reading Wikipedia and a few other sources to fresh up my memory to write a story like this and it is quite amusing to click through from articles. I run into terms that I have not even seen at Last.fm!
Soon after discovering CMI I started to scan the gothic scene. I found ‘medievalish’ music such as Ataraxia, Engelsstaub and Faith and The Muse. At some point I heard of the titleless debut album of Orplid (1998). I believe I read something about “medieval” when I had not found anything new of that for some time. I ordered the album directly from Eis und Licht Tonträger. The cd did not sound very medieval, but contained a magnificent victorious kind of folky music. I asked if the label had more of such music and I got some more Orplid releases later such Forseti, Of The Wand And The Moon, Sonne Hagal and Scivias. Just before I went to the 2000 edition of the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, I heard about a new neofolk band (as the style is referred to) who also uses a military sound: Von Thronstahl. I bought the debut 12″ (1998 also released by Eis und Licht) in Leipzig and was blown away. The typical Eislicht style was/is soft minimalistic music with accoustic guitar(s), singing and sometimes drum or keyboards, but Von Thronstahl had hard martial sounding industrial elements too. Von Thronstahl would also play in Leipzig that year. It took a while before we found the park where, but it soon became clear that there were problems. Police was all around. Von Thronstahl did not play, but only played their music and Death In June (who would also perform) was forbidden to play by the mayor of the city. We did see Ostara (who would debut on Eislicht too), but things started to sound familiar…
After having played in the politically left punk band Crisis (1977 to 1981) Douglas P. started with Death In June. In the early days DIJ (or DI6) reminded of industrial projects such as NON, electronic terrorism with heavy drumming, but there were also postpunk influences. Pretty soon there were also experiments with folk music. This style often does not contain anything more than a guitar and Douglas’ voice. A similar direction was followed by founding member Tony Wakeford who (after a postpunk band Above The Ruins) founded Sol Invictus. Another artist moving somewhere between “post industrial” and folk music was David Tibet who had been active under the monicker Current 93 since 1982. In collaraboration, Pearce and Tibet made their best music. The music these bands created was different, yet similar, but unique in the world of music. I believe it was a Berlin record store who came up with the term “neofolk” (lit. ‘new folk music’) and when Douglas saw the term, he started to use it himself. Thematically the named bands went from Crowley and Satanism to paganism and anti-modernism. There were also references to the world wars. The bandname Death In June is supposedly a reference to the death of SA leader Ernst Röhm, DI6 even sang the Horst Wessel-Lied. Some albums are officially forbidden in Germany or rated 18+. Douglas’ lyrics are extremely shaded and it is hard to say if the music really contains a message of any sort, but the tone was set.
The early wave of neofolk music has never really been my thing. I have but a few of DI6′s albums, only one compilation of Sol Invictus, one cd (and a 7″) of Strength Through Joy and nothing of Fire+Ice. With the ‘second wave’ I was quite in the middle. The rapid rise of Eis und Licht Töntrager with their way too similar sounding bands and… the early concerts.
On 26 oktober 1997 I went to the Ekko in Utrecht. I do not remember what band I went to see, but the main act was Kirlian Camera, a provocative industrial project founded in 1980. When I arrived at the venue, there were a lot of people standing outside so I figured that the doors had not opened yet. When I saw people who did enter the room I followed them and I got a flyer. Another kind of flyer than I usually got (other parties and concerts), a leaflet saying that KC is a fascist band that should be banned. I did not pay a whole lot of attention and just enjoyed the show. A few years later was the trouble with DI6 and Von Thronstahl in Leipzig and I already heard that problems grew rapidly in Germany. Antifascists would show up at concerts to protest, prevent the performance or even demolish the bands’ and visitors’ cars. More than one band is still unable to play in Germany. Then at 28 oktober 2000 the Netherlands would have their first neofolk concert: Dies Natalis in the Oefenbunker in Landgraaf in the very south of the Netherlands. The Oefenbunker has has neofolk parties for a while and was a nice, small venue for a concert with (probably) not too much audience (who knew neofolk in those days?). I got a bit suspicious when there was a girl making photos of the audience instead of the band. There were a few people who dressed different from the rest, but that is never a problem at concerts. Soon it was clear what all that was about. De Groene Amsterdammer, an outspoken left newspaper, wrote a lengthy article heading “music with a brown edge”, including a large photo of a close-up of a young woman dancing to the music. This awfully written and very ‘guiding’ text can still be found online at the website of De Groene Amsterdammer. It opens with the term “nazipunkrock”, names bands such as Landstorm and Holocaust and then describes the event in detail. In fact, there was nothing “rock”y about the evening and the two named bands are skinhead-hardcorebands that (probably) nobody in the audience cared about. The journalist wrote: “They wear tight black pants, the legs folded over shiny black army boots. Orange lantern glow reflects on their bare skulls as they cross the street.” Also a nice one: “On the black wall behind the stage, “Exiting” is written. Around the “x” is a circle, so it seems a Celtic cross.” That was just the standard outlook of the room, the band had nothing to do with that. Besides, since when do Celtic crosses have slanted crosses? More and more parellels are drawn with skinhead hardcore bands, the journalist tries to make his point. Bands that have nothing to do with the concert are dragged into the report, but accusing references to similar bands are made as well. “Significant are also links to related bands. Among others, there is a reference to Death in June, a band whose name refers to the death of SA leader Ernst Röhm. The repertoire contains songs like “Horst Wessel Lied” and “Rose Clouds of Holocaust”, on the cover of one of the CDs a slanted swastika is displayed. Death in June is also represented in a compilation cd dedicated to Leni Riefenstahl.” “Also about the drummer John has second thoughts: “He wore a shirt of the band Blood Axis. The founder of the band is Michael Moynihan, a first class fascist. Moynihan says “the only thing I regret is that the Holocaust is a lie.”” High class journalism! A bit more skinbands are mentioned, then the journalist actually says something about the performance: “Accompanied by heavy drums Dies Natalis yells seemingly unsuspected texts.” John (him again, John is a guy of the Antifascistic movement Kafka who informed the newspaper) did actually notice a few things. There is a guy in the audience who is linked to a skinhead movement and many people where Thor hammers!!. Woo us! “The lyrics indeed contained hidden messages according to John. “There are many references to Ernst Jünger. There is plenty of singing about blood, steel and war. In the song “Death of the West”, the entire Western society is torn down. Everything American is by definition wrong. That is the philosophy of the New Right. I also see people walking around wearing the Voorpost rune.” (The Elhaz/Man-rune is indeed somewhat of the symbol is the neofolk movement and (accidentally or not, but I think it is, since neofolk is mostly a German thing), it is also the logo of the Dutch movement Voorpost.) You heard it, neofolk equals skinhead hardcore!
There was quite some discussion between listeners to neofolk and the newspaper and De Groene Amsterdammer did not find their article too strong (but it still available), but this discussion died out. In the years to come, the neofolk scene remained under the attention of antifa movements. Sometimes they managed to convince mayors to cancel the concert to prevent trouble or a bad name, sometimes it seems as if they had overlooked a concert and nothing happened whatsoever. However annoying these actions were, I am glad that we never came to German situations in which visitors of concerts were attacked (I myself was once in Leipzig). Things remained to mudd throwing and concert cancellations. A new wave of interest rose when the neofolk scene gave birth to a new musical genre.
The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud was a legendary project. I discovered them on the Loki list when they released their third album “A New Soldier Follows The Path Of A New King” (1995). The album blew me away. Medieval music, but also bombastic industrial and with magnificent vocals of Elzbeth. TMLHBAC was a couple-project. They released 6 cds and some other material (7″s, a split cd and a book). The last cd “Rest On Your Arms Reversed” (1999) was a compilation with material earlier released on compilations and vinyl and is the best cd. I saw TMLHBAC live two times, one time in Brugge and one time in Waregem. Just before the latter concert there were rumours that the male half of the project would release something of his own project. With several others I bought the titleless picture 12″, which was released on the band’s own label “Arthur’s Round Table”. Der Blutharsch (as Albin Julius’ solo project was called) would be a one-time event, but because of Albin’s pushing TMLHBAC into a more martial sound and of course personal friction caused Albin and Elzbeth to split up. This also spelled the end of TMLHBAC. I did not really mind that. The band quit at their peak. They had a great discography and could no longer fall into the trap of keeping to release new material that does not get any better. TMLHBAC might be my favourite project, one of them for sure. The Der Blutharsch debut lp contains what I describe as “martial soundscapes”. Soft ambient music with a lot of war samples and here and there some drumming. People who had the lp got a card to order a 7″ and continuing in this fashion, Der Blutharsch got a small but fanatic following. The releases soon costed a lot to get second hand. The music was never more than nice and when my money got lost trying to order a box with 7″s, I kind of lost track of Der Blutharsch. The first cd “Der Sieg Des Lichtes Ist Des Lebens Heil!” (1999) contained the material of the 7″ and contains a few rough martial tracks, heavy drumming, military singing, provocative lyrics, great, boy I regretted not having tried harder to get this 7″ box. After that, each album got better. I think it was Herr Julius himself who coined the term “martial industrial” for his sound and pretty soon, he got much following. Der Blutharsch was very provocative. The bandname would refer to some elite korps, there were a lot of references to the world wars, nationalism, eyebrowraising symbols were used such as the Sigil-rune, the iron cross and oak-leaves and all that with aesthetics that offended many. Concerts where like raids, black uniformed men drumming and shouting on stage. Yep, Der Blutharsch certainly went far towards the borders. Of course these concerts were controversial. The Leiden show of 28 september 2004 was not cancelled, but took place under protest and with the mayor and town council in the audience who wanted to know what it was all about. They found the concert “tasteless but not illegal”. The luck of the antifa movement from then on became more variable and nowadays it seems that they aim their arrows elsewhere. Not that there are many concerts these days. By the time I write this, martial industrial is way over its peak.
After starting to release cds (1998, 1999 and then another one about every year), the popularity of Der Blutharsch rose quickly. All the controversy gave Julius more attention than a project of this sort would receive normally. In fact, the antifa-raid worked counter-productive. Nowadays Julius (but also Douglas P.) can actually live from his music, a thing that many bands can only dream about.
More martial industrial
I noticed the debut cd “Iron Avantgarde” of Kreuzweg Ost when I was in the cd-shop Sounds in Venlo. Kreuzweg Ost was a project of twee (ex-)metalheads and obviously throve heavily upon the popular genre of martial industrial while distancing themselves from politics with a sticker on the cover. So in the year 2000 martial industrial was already quite popular. Looking back for releases that were made available before Kreuzweg Ost’s debut I had to dive deep into my archives. Turbund Sturmwerk had by then released two albums (1996 and 1999), Albin Julius had released the debut albums of Dernière Volonté and Tribe of Circle, a compilation 7″ “Wo Die Wilde Kehrlen Wohnen” he even came up with his own parody under the monicker La Maison Moderne; there had been vinyl releases of Sturmovik and Karceral Flesh and last but not least, the magazine “Letters From The Nuovo Europae :Neue Kultur Für Die Gulag-Massen:” saw the light of day, the main literature on the music and everything around it at the time. So, in only two years the style had reached quite a following. Pretty soon the genre would explode. In 2001 the debut cd of Sophia was released on CMI and the debut lp of the CMI-related project Toroidh was made available. In the next year followed Karjalan Sissit (taking the style to new extremes). Before then there had been a variety of styles, some projects where more ambient in style, others more bombastic, but now the orchestral sound with drumming became most popular. Soon “sounds like Der Blutharsch” was the way to sell material and a lot of crap was released. In fact, I have been quite critical to projects that would become the bigger in the genre: Karjalan Sissit and Triarii which both reminded me too much of Sophia. Looking back, Triarii is the only project that survived the years, I rarely play any martial industrial but Triarii nowdays.
I would almost forget a little bit of history. In France there had been a project fascinated by the world wars for years: Les Joyaux De La Princesse. They undoubtely have had their influence on martial industrial artists. Another band that had a lot of influence is Laibach. This Slovenian art project was founded in 1980. They made parodies to all kinds of music, but they became mostly notorious for their provocative appearance. They made videos in which they walk through a mall in nazi uniforms and inspite that “wir tanzen mit Faschismus und roter Anarchie” they have more than ones been mistakingly accused for harbouring an extreme right ideology. While Laibach is obviously very tongue-in-cheek, their style was copied by martial industrial projects that were less clear about their austere sense of humour. WWII symbolism, references to ‘the wrong side’, controversial compilations (Evola, Codreanu, Riefenstahl, Thorak, Breker, etc.), uniforms or uniform-like clothing on stage (but more in the audience), bands seem(ed) to make an effort in getting a bad name. I also visited a concert once where the man behind the PA refused to mix the music of Les Joyaux De La Princesse when they pulled out some flags. Douglas P. tried to talk things straight and the concert continued, but just to sketch the sensitivities of this form of provocation. There are people who see the scene as a political movement, but I do not agree a bit. There are elements that are definately political, such as Von Thronstahl’s anti-EU intro of the “Germanium Metallicum” album, anti modernistic / Western sentiments and the like, but there is no coherent political ideology, just flashes of this and references that. I never heard a band taking stands against certain peoples even though some opponents seem to find antisemitism everywhere. In fact, there are bands who do have an outspoken political preference, the Belgian band Militia (strickly not a martial industrial project, but acting within the same scene sometimes) is very leftish, but as far as I know not frowned upon for that by other bands (the other way around there are some reservations). Just to say that there is no political movement to be found here. Some elements are on the edge, sure, but are there also not film- or games-genres that offend people and generally, interests, hobbies, sexual preferences, etc. that are not for anyone? Personally I have seldom ran into anything that I so strongly disaproved off that I would get rid off the album, ran off on a concert or anything like that.
In my case I see a musical genre made and liked by people who sometimes critically look towards certain elements of society, like to show off a little with taboo-subjects, but who are mostly just in it for the music.
We have ordered our tickets months ago and recieved them a couple of weeks back. Not too many bands were made known then. Much more we know today and actually, the line-up is not smashing. Of course this is an opportunity to go and see bands that I do not know yet.
Names that are interesting are a bunch that will probably make a nice night with weird industrial: Trepaneringsritualen, Sigillum and Six Comm.
Since a couple of years there is also horror punk/psychobilly: 45 Grave, Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space.
Further there will be: 7JK (and of course Sieben and Job Karma on their own), Anne Clark, The Lost Rivers (this I am looking forward mostly), Konstruktivists and the great project Land:Fire that I already saw live once.
Yesterday Deezer recommended me a recent album of the famous Tricky. I know the man of his lauded 1996 album "Pre-Millenium Tension". The new album starts very promising with slow, fairly dark, downtempo techno (or 'triphop') with male and female vocals. As the album continues, the tracks get less interesting. Not music that I listen to a lot, but should the entire album have been a surprise like the opening tracks.......
As you can see I am experimenting a bit with the layout. I have been thinking of a new and better way to separate reviews from other news, like announcements of releases that I did not review or just general 'blog entries'. I am currently fairly happy with the result, but I do not yet have everything working properly. The stories and 'blog' entries can currently only be visited one by one, not in an overview. Also the rating-stars do not look too good.
So, some work in progress. I hope that you like the new design.
Last.fm keeps track of what I listen to. I "scrobble" most of what I listen to, so this is fairly accurate. Not "scrobbled" is what I hear in the car. In any case, just to give you an idea, here are my most played artists in the last 12 months:
1 A Place to Bury Strangers 377 tracks
2 Haus Arafna 305
3 The Dead Weather 259
4 Thorofon 194
5 Peter Pan Speedrock 111
6 Genocide Organ 107
7 Ex.Order 107
8 Igorrr 100
9 Sonic Area 96
10 The Lost Rivers 96
11 The Tiger Lillies 95
12 The Soft Moon 87
13 Nicholas Lens 86
14 Anenzephalia 84
15 Distel 82
16 Agent Side Grinder 81
17 Black Bug 81
18 Health 77
19 Propergol 76
20 Duchess Says 76
There are a few surprises. I find the music of my townmates Peter Pan Speedrock nice, but not great and I do not have the idea that I played them so often. The same goes for Genocide Organ; usually when I play noise it will be more something like Ex.Order, Operation Cleansweep or IRM. There are a few bands/projects that probably come up so high because they have short tracks, so I play many songs in a short time. Numbers 17 and 18 are actually all played in the last month! Short tracks I guess!
I got an email of Uncoiled Loops, a label that released a dark ambient compilation through Bandcamp. Besides dark ambient the label also has IDM and dubstep. Check out their Bandcamp if you are interested.
Zoharum from Poland puts out another three titles, one of which is made avaible by Noisen Records.
Synapsis "Officine Terraria Reworked", reworked material of projects such as Zenial, Hoarfrost and Self Inflicted Violence. Sometimes soundscapes, sometimes dark ambient, sometimes noisy.
Lagowski presents Legion "False Dawn" a reissue double cd with weird field recorded sound collages.
Piotr Kolecki & Molok Mun "The Spices" and ambient noise soundtrack album.
Tesco Organisation has been around for 25 years and to celebrate this, they had a small festival in their hometown Mannheim at 16 and 17 november 2012. 8 Classic industrial projects made their appearance.
Anenzephalia is closely linked to Tesco and Genocide Organ. However a one man project, mr. Moloch is usually accompanied by one half of Genocide Organ on stage, as he was this time. The man himself you can see on the left, Genocide Organ on the right. We will see this combination later on this weekend. Anenzephalia gave a great show and presented a new cd. Noisy industrial, not the power electronics of GO, aggressive vocals, well done!
I did not really know The-So-Aa. I thought this was a dark ambient project and indeed it was. Not too great, but a few tracks were pretty dark, a sound that I prefer when hearing dark ambient.
I was really looking forward to seeing Operation Cleansweep. They make a brutal form of very industrial noise with aggressive vocals and harsch rhythms. The show was not as extreme as on some of their releases, but perhaps it was better for a live performance, since with sped-up rhythms some people even managed to dance and mosh!
I am no fan of The Grey Wolves. This ancient noise project represents to me what noise should not sound like, chaotic, unstructured, noise for the sake of noise. I never really tried to listen to them, perhaps I would like some of his material by now, I do not know. The show did not start very extreme, just eerie noise with vocals. After a few tracks we went back to our hotel to get some sleep.
The second evening was opened by Galerie Schallschutz. At the previous Tesco festival (in Antwerpen) they had a play with aliens and the like. Nothing of that sort this time, just two guys on stage and two small screens with video. The volume was much higher than on friday night and the sound was harder than I remember Schallschutz, but the show was nice.
Propergol could well be my favourite noise artist. I have seen him live before (also in Antwerpen). The albums of mr. Nougaillion tend to get more ambient and less noisy and the show showed this as well. It looks a bit like Jérôme focusses more on the video aspect of his abilities, since the show was not quite what I hoped. It started chaotic, I had the idea that not much of it was live (or he found a brilliant way to combine sound and image to create his shows on the fly) and instead of having a show build up in atmosphere, there were separate tracks with pauses in between. After a few ambient experiments, somebody in the audience shouted "come on!" and (coincidentally or not) the show moved towards the more industrial noise sound of earlier albums, the atmosphere got better, the pauses went away and the video brilliantly accompanied the music. Yep, a nice show with perhaps a bit of a false start.
Contrastate... Well, I actually only know them from an ancient tape that I got decades ago in the times of 'tape trading', dark ambient with vocals. "A Thousand Badgers In Labour", the last song of the show was even the title track of that album, the only track that I knew. For the rest Contrastate was a lot more industrial and even somewhat noisy from what I expected. Four men on stage (not all visible in my photo) giving a varried and nice set.
Genocide Organ represents my love/hate relation to extreme electronic music. A lot of their material is chaotic atonal brutality with a lot of high frequencies. Other tracks are more structured and have a really dark and/or really aggressive atmosphere like only few power electronic projects tend to manage. I have heard quite a lot of their material (but by far not all I am sure), but I do not like 90% of it. Like The Grey Wolves, GO often represents the side of noise that I do not enjoy. Also I had never seen them on stage. At the previous Tesco festival I could not go the second evening (and sadly missed Post Scriptvm) and for the rest they just never played at something I attended. Their show at their own party was given by four people, the duo that makes this project, mr. Moloch of Anenzephalia and somebody who I did not recognise, but who was obviously of the organisation of the festival. The volume was brought up even more and the show started with an earblowing energy. It is amazing how many people actually came to watch GO (some as far as the USA), people who are apparently even more musical masochists than myself. After a few tracks my girlfriend could no longer stand the extreme volume so we split. Given the fact that I usually spare her from noise, it was amazing enough that she agreed that we would go to this Tesco festival, she even seemed to have enjoyed some of the shows, but GO was a bit too much, so leaving might pave the way for future noise events!
All in all this was a very nice festival with a few minor points. It took to well after the scheduled opening and starting hours before we could get in and before something actually happened, and secondly, the place was stuffed, there was nowhere (but outside) where you could just stand, sit or hang without being pussed aside by people passing all the time. Minor issues of course for somebody who was more lucky than many others in being able to be there at this classic event.
A decade ago a selling line for new cds was: "sounds like Der Blutharsch". Nowadays you have to sound like Triarii in order to sell cds. I listened to a few of these new stars in the field of martial industrial. My scepticism to the current state of the style is unfortunately confirmed grandly. Tethrippon is a Greek act with boring music and awfull vocals. The cheesy orchestrations are as bad as in the early days of martial industrial, but then they were at least new. Of Kazaria's "Credo Nostrum" album I haven't heard one complete song, my finger kept being drawn toward the 'next' button on the remote. Nebelkorona was the least uninteresting project. In fact, a few tracks on their "Tannenhochforst" are quite alright, but the rest are not...
Nope, my heart does not speed up hearing about the next great project in the field of martial industrial.
It has been a while since I got to know Duchess Says. A great band going from electropop to electropop to nowave extremity. A while ago to they released a new album and a European tour was announced! The timing was not perfect, but I managed to go to the Utrecht show yesterday. There were two other bands, the first was the pretty boring De Blaffende Affen (I think this is a band from the practice facility where the concerts was helt), the second an alright band called Bombay Show Pig (some nice idea, but neither of the two can sing) and then it was time for Duchess Says. MAN what a show! This is definately the most interesting live band I have seen in a long time. They mostly played their energetic punk songs and that with only a four-piece band (drummer, electronics, guitarist and singer). The singer is an energetic young woman who is constantly running through the audience going to somebody to grap him/her, push him/her away, dance with him/her, throw beer over his/her head, etc., she even had a picknick in the middle of he audience. The show is full of energy and a part of the audience obviously knew what was going to happen since the first 4 rows have been dancing and jumping around since the band entered the stage. It was truely a great show. Hopefully the band will get a slighly larger audience than just about 70 and return to Europe some time soon.