Monday, October 04, 2004

Industrial Music

This I think is fairly on-topic, as there's a fair amount of music out there that incorporates technology in some severely hefty ways and also deals with monstrous themes. Given as I'm not one of those people who's like "I listen to bands that you haven't heard of, I'm more hardcore than you!" and I don't spend much time ferreting out obscure bands because I haven't the time, most of these bands are no doubt at least familiar to you.

There is certainly a lot of retarded music that has no point, but I think there is a strain in Industrial music over the last 20 years or so that deals with the question of technology and how it affects people's lives. Back in the late 1970s a band called Joy Division appeared, inspired by writers such as Kafka, the main thrust of their work was a political analysis of what it is that makes modern society so unique and confusing, including technology, propaganda, communications technology, the post-industrial revolution social system, and so on.

Skinny Puppy seems to have a similar message (they were one of Canada's hugest acts in the 1980s) though they're a lot more cryptic and bizarre.

The most popular vender of this type of music is obviously Nine Inch Nails. They have one song called "The Becoming" (I'll post the lyrics) that seems to deal with a person entering into a machine-like detachment to avoid those pesky emotions, quite a bit like Spider Rose actually.

And closer to home The Tea Party, back when they were half-decent, wrote the album Transmission which they described as "The question of what becomes of the soul in the face of technology."

5 Comments:

Blogger Dustin said...

The lyrics to "The Becoming"

Interestingly, the song alternates between "mechanical" (distorted vocals, confusing mass of industrial noise) and "organic" (normal vocals, acoustic strumming only)

I think "all pain disappears - it's the nature of my circuitry" is particularly interesting.

*****

I beat my machine it's a part of me it's inside of me
I'm stuck in this dream it's changing me I am becoming
the me that you know had some second thoughts
he's covered with scabs and he is broken and sore
the me that you know doesn't come around much
that part of me isn't here anymore

all pain disappears it's the nature of my circuitry
drowns out all I hear there's no escape from this
my new consciousness

that me that you know used to have feelings
but the blood has stopped pumping and he's left to decay
the me that you know is now made up of wires
and even when I'm right with you I'm so far away
I can try to get away but I've strapped myself in
I can try to scratch away the sound in my ears
I can see it killing away all my bad parts
I don't want to listen but it's all too clear

hiding backwards inside of me I feel so unafraid
Annie, hold a little tighter I might just slip away

it won't give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head

11:40 PM  
Blogger Meshon said...

I found this essay which makes the interesting point that Skinny Puppy, the Nettwerk record lable and William Gibson all kind of emerged out of Vancouver around the same time.

Skinny Puppy had a lot of techno-alienation going on. I specifically remember a line from First Aid, where a twisted voice screams "a life that cannot be!" that makes me think of Frankenstein. Definitely cryptic and bizarre. Their stage show melded organic and mechanical with explosive, bloody results. The lead singer (or whatever he does) is called Nivek Ogre, certainly a monstrous figure (see pictures here). Industrial music often gets associated with technology, alienation, violence and fascism (or anti-fascism). An in-your-face reaction to the ills of "modern times."

-Skinny Puppy is currently on tour, though I heard a rumour that they vowed never to play in Saskatoon again after Fish got onstage at the Broadway and beat up Ogre.
-KMFDM is also out and about with their "20 Years of Conceptual Continuity" tour, though I think they are already on to Eastern Canada.
-I saw The Ministry on Sunday and really dug the Matrix-inspired fashions that I saw. Cool boots.
-And Gwar is coming, Nov. 21 at the Roxy.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Allison Muri said...

Then there's Marilyn Manson (or "Man5on," as it's on the cover): Mechanical Animals, from a few years ago:


Posthuman

she's got eyes like zapruder
and a mouth like heroin
she wants me to be
perfect like Kennedy
this isn't God, this isn't God
God is just a statistic
God is just a statistic
say,
"Show me the dead stars,
all of them sing."
this is a riot
religious and clean

God is a number you cannot count to
you are posthuman and hardwired

she's pilgrim and pagan
softworn and so-cial
in all of her dreams
she's a saint like Jackie-O

this isn't God, this isn't God
God is just a statistic
God is just a statistic
say,
"Show me the dead stars,
all of them sing."
this is a riot
religious and clean

coma white:
"all that glitter is cold, all that glitters is cold"



Mechanical Animals

we were neurophobic
and perfect
the day that we lost our souls
maybe we weren't so human
if we cry we will rust
and I was a hand grenade
that never stopped exploding
you were automatic and
as hollow as the 'o' in God

I am never gonna be the one for you
I am never gonna save the world from you
but they'll never be good to you
or bad to you
they'll never be anything
anything at all

you were my mechanical bride
you were phenobarbidoll
a manniqueen of depression
with the face of a dead star
and I was a hand grenade
that never stopped exploding
you were automatic and
as hollow as the 'o' in God

I am never gonna be the one for you
I am never gonna save the world from you
but they'll never be good to you
or bad to you
they'll never be anything
anything at all

this isn't me I'm not mechanical
I'm just a boy
playing the suicide king

4:09 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

And then there is Bad Religion. Some of the lyrics are a bit sketchy, but i think lots of it is relevant to what we are talking about.

All lyrics by Gregory Walter Graffin (born November 6, 1965 in Madison, Wisconsin), better known as Greg Graffin is the singer and founder of the punk rock band Bad Religion.

He formed Bad Religion in 1980 at age 15 when he was in high school. The band released a self-titled EP in 1981 and disbanded in 1984, re-forming in 1987. They signed with Epitaph Records and recorded Suffer, releasing it in 1988.

In 2003, he received his Ph.D. in evolutionary paleontology from UCLA. However, according to a video clip originally from the Bad Religion official website (http://www.badreligion.com) and also available from the The Cornell Evolution Project (http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/) homepage, the PhD thesis was officially a Zoology PhD thesis, supervised by William B. Provine (http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/provine/provine.html) at Cornell University. The thesis was entitled "Monism, Atheism and the Naturalist Worldview: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology". It is described as being essentially an evolutionary biology PhD but having also relevance to history and philosophy of science.

MODERN MAN

I’ve got nothing to say, I’ve got nothing to do,
All of my neurons are functioning smoothly,
Yet still I’m a cyborg just like you,

I am one big myoma that thinks, my planet supports only me,
I’ve got this one big problem: will I live forever?
I’ve got just a short time to see,

Modern man, evolutionary betrayer,
Modern man, ecosystem destroyer,
Modern man, destroy yourself in shame,
Modern man, pathetic example of earth’s organic heritage,

When I look back and think, when I ponder and ask myself ’why? ’,
I see my ancestor spend with careless abandon,
Assuming eternal supply,

Modern man, evolutionary betrayer,
Modern man, ecosystem destroyer,
Modern man, destroy yourself in shame,
Modern man, pathetic example of earth’s organic heritage,
Just a sample of carbon-based wastage,
Just a fucking tragic epic of you and i

21ST CENTURY DIGITAL BOY

I can’t believe it, the way you look sometimes,
Like a trampled flag on a city street, oh yeah,

And I don’t want it, the things you’re offering me,
Symbolized bar code, quick id, oh yeah,

’cause I’m a 21st century digital boy,
I don’t know how to live but I’ve got a lot of toys,
My daddy’s a lazy middle class intellectual,
My mommy’s on valium, so ineffectual,
Ain’t life a mystery?

I can’t explain it, the things they’re saying to me,
It’s going yayayayayayaya, oh yeah,

’cause I’m a 21st century digital boy,
I don’t know how to read but I’ve got a lot of toys,
My daddy’s a lazy middle class intellectual,
My mommy’s on valium, so ineffectual,
Ain’t life a mystery?
I tried tell you about no control,
But now I really don’t know,
And then you told me how bad you had to suffer,
Is that really all you have to offer?

See I’m a 21st century digital boy,
I don’t know how to read but I’ve got a lot of toys,
My daddy’s a lazy middle class intellectual,
My mommy’s on valium, so ineffectual,

That’s what I yearn for (21st century digital boy),
Neurosurgeons scream for more (21st century digital boy),
Innocence raped with napalm fire (21st century digital boy),
Anything I want I really need (21st century digital boy),
21st century schitzoid boy (21st century digital boy),
21st century video boy (21st century digital boy),
21st century digital boy (21st century digital boy),
21st century sofa boy (21st century digital boy)...

I LOVE MY COMPUTER

I love my computer
You make me feel alright
Every waking hour
And every lonely night
I love my computer
For all you give to me:
Predictable errors and no identity
And it’s never been quite so easy
I’ve never been quite so happy
All I need to do is click on you
And we’ll be joined
In the most soul-less way
And we’ll never ruin each other’s day
’cuz when I’m through I just click
And you just go away
I love my computer
You’re always in the mood
I get so turned on
When I turn on you
I love my computer
You never ask for more
You can be a princess
Or you can be my whore
And it’s never been quite so easy
I’ve never been quite so happy
The world outside is so big
But it’s safe in my domain
Because to you
I’m just a number
And a clever screen name
All I need to do is click on you
And we’ll be together for eternity
And no one is ever gonna take my love
From me because I’ve got security
Her password and a key

8:14 AM  
Blogger bumblepanda said...

I realize this is an older post but I just have to respond. Mainly on the point of Nine Inch Nails. That album, The Downward Spiral, can easily be regarded as an almost essay detailing his descent into non-feeling inhumanity, using mechanical and technological terms to desrcibe this descent. The album even tackles more specific themes that we have touched on in class. For example, "the machine stops"- we have a society that has forsaken religion in favour of technology- look at track 3 Heresy "God is dead, and no one cares" screamed on top of the sound of a robotic army marching... excellent... all ending in "I hurt myself today, to see IF I still feel"... Even the times that I have seen NIN live, the theme of technology is forefront and centre stage. I have watched Reznor disembowel various types of machinery on stage- an artistic representation of the music??? Also, let's not forget the videos- Head Like A Hole- the man sings while surrounded by broken audio equipment and draped in tape (like the old cds, not masking tape) Excellent connection Dustin!

4:57 PM  

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