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by Burton Pressboard

“Soylent Green Ausz Neischen Spleisch … Soylent Green Ausz Neischen Spleisch.” (not real German)

I WILL here give a brief sketch on the progress and state of Industrial Music. Until recently the great majority of musicologists believed that industrial music was a mutated aberration, and had been subversively created. This view has been ably maintained by the so-called critics as well. Some few musicians, on the other hand, have believed that industrial music has undergone a transformation, and that the existing form of this genre is the descendant by true generation of preeminent and superb sounds. Passing over allusions to the subject in the classical sense, the person or persons who in modern times has treated it in an artistic spirit was neither Ogre or Leeb, but fans. And as these opinions fluctuated greatly at different periods, one does not enter into the arena on the causes of this discussion with any real concern or apologies.

Henceforth and hereunder, industrial music is harsh, aggressive sound structures laced with disturbing beats and layered sequences. Many of the sounds seem machine-like in origin, reminding one of an old haunted factory in Detroit. The vocals are often treated or distorted (with a demonic intensity), giving the music its dark, nightmarish quality. Once deciphered the lyrics offer a tortured, bleak view of the world. The vocal treatment is like an added instrument or machine: caustic, intense and under duress. And the use of samples, or sound bites, from old horror films and classic television like “Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” from the 1960s, only adds a distorted sense of doom to the overall soundscape.

Wumpscut vs. Haujobb

Industrial music lost much of its tantalizing, vindictive edge in the early 1990s, with some bands choosing to lay down a hazy disco sound. This was, thankfully, short-lived as new bands emerged from Europe that took industrial music to a new level. This was a darker, more troubling place than had been visited before, a militant — as if programmed by evil itself — institutional sound that would make most people turn in fear. The best examples of this music came from two highly intelligent and original bands out of Germany: Wumpscut and Haujobb. (Note: a Ridley Scott connection exists between the two. Haujobb, is German for Skin Job, which is a term used in the film “Blade Runner.” While the Wumpscut logo — a large W — is like the one used in the film “Alien.”)

Similar to Haujobb, Wumpscut became popular in the U.S. around 1995 with the release of their monumental album "Bunkertor 7." Prior to that they released the 1993 album “Music for a Slaughtering Tribe,” which included the classic club hit “Soylent Green” — yes, from the film of the same name. This song, I guess they’re called songs, used the German-language dub of the film for the famous line at the end, “Soylent Green is People.”


Haujobb pushed the notion of what industrial music was (and could be) with their 1995 release, “Freeze Frame Reality.” When industrial fans first heard this album, they thought the world would stop and take notice. Haujobb had created atmospheric electronic soundcapes never heard before — textured effects never imagined. It was a true masterpiece. Industrial fans played this album so many times that they stopped listening to everything else. They couldn’t stop talking about it. They played it to death.


What makes Wumpscut stand above all the other industrial bands is their incredible force and power. It’s like your head’s been invaded by some terrifying, overwhelming wave of evil that you can’t, and don’t want to, resist. There’s often a simple, almost nostalgic feel at the beginning of their songs, yet they remain oppressively heavy, with a mind-clawing appeal that fills up the middle and comes crashing down at the end. You can’t write this stuff down on sheet music. You can’t bring it to life with an acoustic guitar. It’s all studio, computers, wizardry, and effects. It’s beyond human comprehension to the extent that you can’t quite fathom how it’s done. And the question, “How in God’s name does this happen?” is answered by simple awe and amazement, and an overall gratitude that something like this can exist, does exist, and will stick around long after we die.

“Dear God … Dear God … Dear God.”

In the same way that rock music evolved into Classic Rock, industrial music invited similar comparisons by way of the old adage, “What have you done for me lately?” Music that was no longer vital or meaningful to its core base of fans quickly became a long-running pun or joke. The “no, nothing new attitude” and general downplaying of talent and skill, paved way for a whole new generation of brattlewurst sounds for the masses. Squeeze your head full.

Today’s industrial music? Well, they’re trying, but it’s not as good as it once was. And Wumpscut and Haujobb are certainly not as creative as they used to be. But who is? So for aficionados of what’s truly become the New Classic Industrial sound, we know we can always rely on the unique, aggressive sounds of Wumpscut’s and Haujobb’s previous body of work. All albums discussed here are currently available. (If you'd like to hear a sample of both bands, seek out the 1996 release of "The Remix Wars: Strike 1" featuring Wumpscut vs. Haujobb.)

“I can’t remember … I can’t remember … I can’t remember … I can’t remember.”

And so...

As this whole piece may seem one-sided in its argument, it may be convenient to the reader to have the facts and inferences briefly recapitulated.

That many and gross objections may be advanced against the listening to of industrial music with modification through more natural sounds, I do not deny. I have endeavored to give to them their full force. Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex industrial sounds should have been perfected not by means superior to personal experience, but by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations, however artificial they may be, each good for the individual listener. Nevertheless, this difficulty, though appearing to our imagination insuperably great, cannot be considered if we admit the following propositions, namely, that gradations in the perfection of any real or artificial sound, which we may consider, either do now exist or could have existed, that all sounds are, in ever so slight a degree, variable, and, lastly, that there is a struggle for the preservation of each possible deviation of sound to song. The truth of these propositions cannot be disputed.

It is, undoubtedly, extremely difficult to conjecture by what gradations most industrial sounds have been perfected, more especially amongst extreme and original groups; but we see so many strange gradations in the music world, that we ought to be extremely cautious in saying that any sound or style, or any song in whole, could not have arrived at its present state by many graduated steps. There are, it must be admitted, cases of special difficulty on the theory of industrial music; and one of the most curious of these is the existence of predefined tastes of musicians and producers working together in the same studio, but I have attempted to show how this difficulty can be mastered. With respect to the almost universal sterility of sounds when first crossed, I must refer to the recapitulation of the facts given, which seem to me conclusively to show that this preference for industrial music is no more a special endowment than is the capacity of two aliens to be grafted together into one being, and that it is incidental on constitutional differences in the very structure of the intercrossed beings. We see the truth of this conclusion in the vast differences in the result. Thereby giving validity and credence to the notion that all industrial music is thus superior and far more entertaining than its pop mainstream counterpart. I see no viable solution.

“Soylent Green Ausz Neischen Spleisch … Soylent Green Ausz Neischen Spleisch.”

Note: This article is dedicated to and inspired by Charles Darwin and the strange sounds he must’ve encountered on his many journeys.

WHERE DO THEY GET THOSE NAMES! Industrial bands may go unnoticed by the general public, but for those who do follow the genre, there are some very interesting bands out there. Here are a few examples: Aghast View, !AiBoFoRcEn, AmGod, Alien Sex Fiend, Armageddon Dildos, Christ Analogue, Brain Leisure, Cat Rapes Dog, Das Ich, Digital Poodle, Evil’s Toy, Fektion Fekler, Meat Beat Manifesto, Mentallo and the Fixer, Noisex, Oneiroid Psychosis, Oomph, Poupee Fabrikk, Putrefy Factor 7, Ringtailed Snorter, Velvet Acid Christ, X Marks the Pedwalk, Yelworc, and many, many more.

Burton Pressboard is not a musician. He did see The Carpenters perform at the Hollywood Bowl when he was a kid. The experience changed his life.




    Two Suns
    by Bat for Lashes


    Exploding Head
    by A Place to Bury Strangers


    Teen Dream
    by Beach House



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