And here we have one great oldie but Goldie..yeah, the capital G is proper here, baby! Easy the best introduction to industrial rock-industrial-EBM-electronic out there, with some of the greatest names of the genres present.
Released in 1999 through Rhino Records, the Alternative Press presents Industrial Strength Machine Music (The Framerowk of Industrial Rock 1978-1995) starts with none other than industrial anti-music pioneers Throbbing Gristle and their haunting and disturbing track „Hamburger Lady“. Slowly building tension through a repeated drone sound and sampled vocal presentation, it‘s interesting how effective it is to evoke feelings of uneasiness and disturbance in the listener. What an opening of this compilation!
The second track has allowed me to discover another great band in the form of Cabaret Voltaire. The song in question is „Nag Nag Nag“ and presents a nice semi-hypnotic tune with repetitive bassline and simple, yet fitting drumloop. I haven‘t heard anything about CV when I‘d listened to this compilation for the first time, but that song had prompted me to check this interesting group. Not a fan by any means, I‘ve heard just a few songs they put out, but it‘s on my backburner to check later more properly.
NON is a project of Boyd Rice, an interesting persona to explore on its own, not just on a basis of this project. „Out Out Out“ is another simple loop song accompanied with Boyd‘s shouting echoed slogans, forming a hypnotic, trance inducing experience. Though it ends before the actual track ends (if I am not mistaken), I would actually appreciate it to go on for a little longer.
Coil‘s contribution to this compilation comes in the form of „Panic“, which has first appeared on their debut album „Scatology“ and bring us to the early 1980s electronic stuff and it reminds me of early Depeche Mode (practically the only one I could relate this song to). Nice collage of sounds, rythms and melodies which can‘t be little hard to get into on the first listening, but it grows on a listener (me).
Test Dept (or Test Department) is quite similar to Throbbing Gristle stuff presented here, although it‘s a faster song, obviously, but the use of drone sound, vocal samples and the loops are similar to TG, and in this case Test Dept‘s song „Kick to Kill“ is even more interesting. In a way it reminds me of stuff Laibach did in their early phases and also on their album Kapital – and there is no way I can dislike this one. Instant love!
Einstürzende Neubauten are another classic band from this genre, although I have to admit previous to this experience I have never listened to them. I knew about them from MTV’s 120 minutes, but back than I hadn’t been interested in this kind of music, so I just passed it over. My bad – and my loss. “Yü-Gung (Fütter Meine Ego)“is the longest track in this compilation, consisting of layers and layers of repetitive loops topped up by Blixa’s shouting slogans in German language. And it’s a interesting mixture considering EN don’t play conventional instruments. Honestly, I would never believe something like that could be that catchy and melodic, yet distant and cold in it’s delivery.
Scrapping Foetus Off The Wheel presents the song entitled “Anything (Viva!)” and few seconds in, I was kinda led to think it’s not interesting. But wait, wait…the simple sound collage paired with J. G. Thirlwell’s vocal performance is soon changed, speeding up (a little) and bringing a nice synth loops into the game. Contrary to what I’ve thought previously, this one is a pretty cool cat of a song and I particularly like the sense of urgency in singer’s voice. So far, so good…or great!
Skinny Puppy I knew by the name, but as with other stuff, I’ve never encountered them seriously as a listener. There were not people in my social circle listening to this music, so, obviously, I’ve gravitated towards different genres. And I have to say none of the previous tracks on this compilation reviewed so far were as hard to get into as this one. By no means a bad song, the loops are pretty much an audio translation of what “souless” and “cold” electronic/industrial is. Listeners can close their eyes and imagine a clean factory enviroment full of robotic equipment and that would be the first half of SP’s song (minus the vocals, of course). Adding the strings’ sounds into the mix, and especially the Gregorian chants makes this track an interesting, if not difficult one to listen to. I can say I am not sure if I’d choose follow Skinny Puppy’s output based solely on this song. Very probably not. Not at all what I’d expect.
Now Front 242 are known to me also from MTV of old, with their song “Headhunter” getting some rotation back then. There they are presented by song “Funkahdafi”, sampling some guy in the beginning introducing Muammar el-Kaddaffi to the audience and also some Middle Eastern vocals, but except the great machine-like loops driving this song, the song as a whole is kinda weak. That’s all I can say, kids. Even repeated listening haven’t changed my initial opinion.
And, alas, the same goes to Clock DVA and their “The Hacker (video mix)”. Say what you want, this kind of stuff just doesn’t go well with me. Don’t know why, it might be the choice of the song, but it’s boring. And not boring in the good way, it’s just plainly uninteresting. I wouldn’t skip it, as it’s not even that long (some 3:24), but I wonder how it sounds in its original version, as this one has no appeal to me. Now I feel bad to write it off…
Meat Beat Manifesto is next, I knew them from Matrix soundtrack and I didn’t like them there. So I haven’t had high expectations to start with. But “Psyche Out” is not bad at all, on the contrary, it’s weird – and quite interesting, although not my cup of tea, as it’s more to the dance side of industrial stuff and I am not really as “dancey” as I was years ago and I miss in it that feeling of “dehumanization” and “soul-emptiness” as presented in the work of early pioneers of industrial music.
And now Ministry and their “Stigmata”. Thankfully, back in the day I had the whole “The Land of Rape and Honey” album on the tape and I could play it day after day, so obviously, “Stigmata” quickly rose up to its status of my favourite track from said album. And listening to it after some long time, it still a fucking great track! No further words needed here.
KMFDM were great on Mortal Kombat soundtrack and their techno/dance/EBM is great here as well, with the song “Godlike-Doglike”. Sampled guitars and characteristic vocals, both male and female, and the kid sample thrown into the mix makes this a very pleasant experience to listen to. Even more in the club than just listening to it at home. But hey, can’t have everything, right?
If I remember correctly (I’m too lazy to check it online) My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult were also involved with Mortal Kombat soundtrack, so I was at least remotely familiar what they sound like. Presented here is their track “Kooler Than Jesus (Electric Messiah mix)” and it’s a stuff similar to previously mentioned KMFDM. And all said about KMFDM can be repeated here as well. Except the sampled guitars (but this group has cooler bass line, there’s no doubt about it).
Revolting Cocks bring us back to heavier/dark side of EBM and synth electronics with their cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “(Let’s Get) Physical”. Gone is the cheesiness of Olivia’s original, but the song presented reminds me of some less successful attempts in covers by Cradle of Filth – interesting choice of an original song, boring result. Nope, not interested, sorry, kids.
And the end song belongs to Nine Inch Nails and I was never their fan and I’m unsure if I ever be. Not that I have to be, of course, just can’t make myself to listen to their stuff as a whole. Yes, NIN works on me with individual songs now and then, but as a compact, not really. Shame, “Gave Up (live)” is not bad song at all, on the contrary, is lively, driven, energetic and I like it. And I like it also as a nice final song for this interesting compilation.
So, and that’s it. I liked this compilation when I’ve listened to it for the very first time and now, after a few years, it still sounds great. Recommended wholeheartedly to anyone interesting to explore industrial and EBM stuff.