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Industrial music is a genre of music that draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes.
AllMusic AllMusic (previously known as All Music Guide and AMG) is an American online music database. It catalogs more than three million album entries and 30 million tracks, as well as information on Musical artist, musicians and Musical ensemble, ban ...

AllMusic
defines industrial music as the "most abrasive and aggressive fusion of
rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and the way in w ...
and
electronic music Electronic music is music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music incl ...
" that was "initially a blend of
avant-garde The avant-garde (; In 'advance guard' or '', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are experimental, , or unorthodox with respect to , , or .John Picchione, The New Avant-garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Practices' (Tor ...
electronics experiments (
tape music Tape or Tapes may refer to: Material A long, narrow, thin strip of material (see also Ribbon (disambiguation): Adhesive tapes * Adhesive tape, any of many varieties of backing materials coated with an adhesive * Athletic tape, pressure-sensiti ...
,
musique concrète Musique concrète (; ): " problem for any translator of an academic work in French is that the language is relatively abstract and theoretical compared to English; one might even say that the mode of thinking itself tends to be more schematic, with ...
,
white noise In signal processing Signal processing is an electrical engineering subfield that focuses on analysing, modifying, and synthesizing signals such as audio signal processing, sound, image processing, images, and scientific measurements. Sign ...

white noise
,
synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronics, electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an el ...

synthesizer
s, sequencers, etc.) and
punk Punk or punks may refer to: Genres, subculture, and related aspects * Punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s. Rooted in 1960s garage rock, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1 ...
provocation". The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of
Industrial Records Industrial Records is a record label established in 1976 by industrial music Industrial music is a genre of music that draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic defines industrial music as the "most abrasive a ...
by members of
Throbbing Gristle Throbbing Gristle were an English music and visual arts group formed in 1975 in Kingston upon Hull Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, is a port city and unitary authorities of England, unitary authority in the East Riding of Y ...

Throbbing Gristle
and
Monte Cazazza Monte Cazazza is an American artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse refers to a practitioner i ...
. While the genre name originated with Throbbing Gristle's emergence in the United Kingdom, artists and labels vital to the genre also emerged in the United States and other countries. The first industrial artists experimented with
noise Noise is unwanted sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the ''reception'' of such waves and the ...

noise
and aesthetically controversial topics, musically and visually, such as
fascism Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particularl ...

fascism
,
sexual perversion Paraphilia (previously known as sexual perversion and sexual deviation) is the experience of intense sexual arousal Sexual arousal (also sexual excitement) is typically the arousal Arousal is the physiological and psychological P ...
, and the
occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abiliti ...
. Prominent industrial musicians include Throbbing Gristle,
Monte Cazazza Monte Cazazza is an American artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse refers to a practitioner i ...
, SPK,
Boyd Rice Boyd Blake Rice (born December 16, 1956) is an American experimental sound/noise musician using the name of NON since the mid-1970s, archivist, actor, photographer, author, member of the ''Partridge Family Temple'' religious group, co-founder of ...
, Cabaret Voltaire, and
Z'EV Z'EV (born Stefan Joel Weisser, February 8, 1951 – December 16, 2017) was an American poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of p ...
.V.Vale. '' Re/Search #6/7: Industrial Culture Handbook'', 1983. On Throbbing Gristle's 1977 debut album ''
The Second Annual Report ''The Second Annual Report'' is the debut album by English industrial music group Throbbing Gristle, released in November 1977 through Industrial Records. It is a combination of live and studio recordings made from October 1976 to September 197 ...
'', they coined the slogan "industrial music for industrial people". Chicago-based independent label Wax Trax Records featured a heavy roster of industrial music acts. The precursors that influenced the development of the genre included acts such as German electronic groups
Faust Faust is the protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, translit=prōtagōnistḗs, lit=one who plays the first part, chief ...
,
Neu! Neu! (styled as ''NEU!'' in block capitals, german: New!, ) was a German band formed in Düsseldorf Düsseldorf (, , ; often in English sources; Low Franconian and Ripuarian language, Ripuarian: ''Düsseldörp'' ; archaic nl, Dusseldorp) i ...

Neu!
and
Kraftwerk Kraftwerk (, "power station") is a German band formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Widely considered as innovators and pioneers of electronic music, it was among the first successful acts to popularize the genre ...

Kraftwerk
,
experimental rock Experimental rock, also called avant-rock, is a subgenre of rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s, developing into a range of different s ...
acts such as
Pink Floyd Pink Floyd were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compo ...
and
Frank Zappa Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American musician, singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader. His work is characterized by wikt:nonconformity, nonconformity, Free improvisation, free-form improvisation, ...

Frank Zappa
,
psychedelic rock Psychedelic rock is rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and pe ...
artists such as
Jimi Hendrix James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most ...

Jimi Hendrix
, lounge music acts such as
Martin Denny Martin Denny (April 10, 1911 – March 2, 2005) was an American pianist and composer best known as the "father of exotica Exotica is a musical genre, named after the 1957 Martin Denny album of the same title that was popular during the 1950s t ...
, pop music such as
ABBA ABBA ( , ) are a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm Stockholm is the Capital city, capital of Sweden. It has the most populous urban area in Sweden as well as in Scandinavia. 1 million people live in the Stockholm Municipality, mun ...

ABBA
and composers such as
John Cage John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical ...
,
Karlheinz Stockhausen Karlheinz Stockhausen (; 22 August 1928 – 5 December 2007) was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. He is known for his ground ...
or the
ONCE Group The ONCE Group was a collection of musicians, visual artists, architects, and film-makers who wished to create an environment in which artists could explore and share techniques and ideas in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The group was responsib ...
. Musicians also cite writers such as
William S. Burroughs William Seward Burroughs II (; February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American writer and visual artist, credited as a primary figure of the Beat Generation The Beat Generation was a literary movement started by a group ...
, artists such as
Brion Gysin Brion Gysin (19 January 1916 – 13 July 1986) was a painter, writer, sound poet, performance artist and inventor of experimental devices born in Taplow, Buckinghamshire. He is best known for his use of the cut-up technique, alongside his close ...
and philosophers such as
Friedrich Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, me ...

Friedrich Nietzsche
as influences. While the term was self-applied by a small coterie of groups and individuals associated with Industrial Records in the late 1970s, it was broadened to include artists influenced by the original movement or using an "industrial" aesthetic. Over time, the genre's influence spread into and blended with styles including
ambient Ambient or Ambiance or Ambience may refer to: Music and sound * Ambience (sound recording), also known as atmospheres or backgrounds * Ambient music, a genre of music that puts an emphasis on tone and atmosphere * Ambient (album), ''Ambient'' (albu ...
, synth music and rock such as
Front 242 Front 242 is a Belgian electronic music group that came into prominence during the 1980s. Pioneering the style they called electronic body music, they are a profound influence on the Electronic music, electronic and Industrial music, industrial mu ...
,
Front Line Assembly Front Line Assembly (FLA) is a Canadian electro-industrial Electro-industrial is a music genre that emerged from industrial music in the early 1980s. While Electronic body music, EBM (electronic body music) has a minimal structure and clean pro ...
,
KMFDM KMFDM (originally Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, loosely translated by the band as "no pity for the majority") is a German industrial music, industrial band from Hamburg led by Sascha Konietzko, who founded the band in 1984 as a performance art ...
, and
Sister Machine Gun Sister Machine Gun is an American industrial rock Industrial rock is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music ...
from the Chicago-based Wax Trax Records.
Electro-industrial Electro-industrial is a music genre that emerged from industrial music in the early 1980s. While Electronic body music, EBM (electronic body music) has a minimal structure and clean production, electro-industrial tends to have a grittier, complex ...
music is a primary subgenre that developed in the 1980s, with the most notable bands in the genre being Front Line Assembly and
Skinny Puppy Skinny Puppy is a Canadian industrial music Industrial music is a genre of music that draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic AllMusic (previously known as All Music Guide and AMG) is an American online ...
. The two other most notable hybrid genres are
industrial rock Industrial rock is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular ...
and
industrial metal Industrial metal is the fusion of heavy metal Heavy metal may refer to: *Heavy metals, a loose category of relatively dense metals and metalloids **Toxic heavy metal, any heavy metal chemical element of environmental concern *Heavy metal musi ...
, which include bands such as
Nine Inch Nails Nine Inch Nails, commonly abbreviated as NIN and stylized as NIИ, is an American industrial rock Industrial rock is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of ...
, Ministry,
Rammstein Rammstein (, "ramming stone") is a German Neue Deutsche Härte band formed in Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within c ...

Rammstein
, and
Fear Factory Fear Factory is an American Heavy metal music, heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1989. Throughout the band's career, they have released nine full-length albums and have evolved through a succession of sounds, all in their m ...
, the first three of which released platinum-selling albums in the
1990s File:1990s decade montage.png, From left, clockwise: The Hubble Space Telescope orbits the Earth after it was launched in 1990; American F-16s and McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, F-15s fly over burning oil fields in Operation Desert Storm, also kno ...
.


History


Precursors

Industrial music drew from a broad range of predecessors. According to the ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historica ...
'', the genre was first named in 1942 when ''
The Musical Quarterly ''The Musical Quarterly'' is the oldest academic journal on music in America. Originally established in 1915 by Oscar Sonneck, the journal was edited by Sonneck until his death in 1928. Sonneck was succeeded by a number of editors, including Carl ...
'' called Dmitri Shostakovich's 1927 Symphony No. 2 "the high tide of 'industrial music'." Similarly, in 1972 ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
'' described works by
Ferde Grofé Ferdinand Rudolph von Grofé, known as Ferde Grofé (March 27, 1892 April 3, 1972) was an American composer, arrangement, arranger, pianist and instrumentalist. He is best known for his 1931 five-movement tone poem, ''Grand Canyon Suite''. During ...

Ferde Grofé
(especially 1935's ''A Symphony in Steel'') as a part of "his 'industrial music' genre
hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men's beaver felt hats A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safet ...

hat
called on such instruments as four pairs of shoes, two brooms, a locomotive bell, a pneumatric drill and a compressed-air tank". Though these compositions are not directly tied to what the genre would become, they are early examples of music designed to mimic machinery noise and factory atmosphere. Early examples of industrial music proper arefound in
Pierre Schaeffer Pierre Henri Marie Schaeffer (English pronunciation: , ; 14 August 1910 – 19 August 1995) was a French composer, writer, broadcaster, engineer, musicologist and acoustician. His innovative work in both the sciences—particularly communications ...
's 1940s
musique concrète Musique concrète (; ): " problem for any translator of an academic work in French is that the language is relatively abstract and theoretical compared to English; one might even say that the mode of thinking itself tends to be more schematic, with ...
and the tape music of
Halim El-Dabh Halim Abdul Messieh El-Dabh ( ar, حليم عبد المسيح الضبع, ''Ḥalīm ʻAbd al-Masīḥ al-Ḍab''ʻ; March 4, 1921 – September 2, 2017) was an Egyptian American composer, musician, ethnomusicologist Ethnomusicology is ...

Halim El-Dabh
, at least the former of which more closely approximates the aesthetics of the 70s era industrial music. In his book ''Interrogation Machine: Laibach and NSK'', Alexei Monroe argues that
Kraftwerk Kraftwerk (, "power station") is a German band formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Widely considered as innovators and pioneers of electronic music, it was among the first successful acts to popularize the genre ...

Kraftwerk
were particularly significant in the development of industrial music, as the "first successful artists to incorporate representations of industrial sounds into nonacademic electronic music."Monroe, p. 212 Industrial music was created originally by using mechanical and electric machinery, and later advanced synthesizers, samplers and electronic percussion as the technology developed. Monroe also argues for
Suicide Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death Death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition t ...
as an influential contemporary of the industrial musicians. Groups cited as inspirational by the founders of industrial music include
The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground was an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemi ...
,
Joy Division Joy Division were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...

Joy Division
, and
Martin Denny Martin Denny (April 10, 1911 – March 2, 2005) was an American pianist and composer best known as the "father of exotica Exotica is a musical genre, named after the 1957 Martin Denny album of the same title that was popular during the 1950s t ...
.
Genesis P-Orridge Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (born Neil Andrew Megson; 22 February 1950 – 14 March 2020) was an English singer-songwriter, musician, poet, performance artist, visual artist, and Occultism, occultist who rose to notability as the founder of the CO ...

Genesis P-Orridge
of
Throbbing Gristle Throbbing Gristle were an English music and visual arts group formed in 1975 in Kingston upon Hull Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, is a port city and unitary authorities of England, unitary authority in the East Riding of Y ...

Throbbing Gristle
had a cassette library including recordings by the
Master Musicians of Jajouka The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar (sometimes written as ...featuring Bachir Attar) are a collective of Jbala Sufi Sufism ( ar, ٱلصُّوفِيَّة), also known as Tasawwuf ( ar, ٱلتَّصَوُّف, link=no), is ...
, Kraftwerk,
Charles Manson Charles Milles Manson ( born Maddox, November 12, 1934November 19, 2017) was an American criminal and cult In modern English, a cult is a social group that is defined by its unusual Religion, religious, spirituality, spiritual, or Philosop ...
, and
William S. Burroughs William Seward Burroughs II (; February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American writer and visual artist, credited as a primary figure of the Beat Generation The Beat Generation was a literary movement started by a group ...
. P-Orridge also credited 1960s rock such as
The Doors The Doors were an American Rock music, rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1965, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. They were among the most controversial and influential ro ...
, Pearls Before Swine,
The Fugs The Fugs are an American band formed in New York City in late 1964, by the poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, with Ken Weaver on drums. Soon afterward, they were joined by Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber of The Holy Modal Rounders. Kupferber ...
,
Captain Beefheart Don Van Vliet (; born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. He conducted a rotating ensemble called the ...

Captain Beefheart
, and
Frank Zappa Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American musician, singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader. His work is characterized by wikt:nonconformity, nonconformity, Free improvisation, free-form improvisation, ...

Frank Zappa
in a 1979 interview. also enjoyed and found inspiration in
Pink Floyd Pink Floyd were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compo ...
and
Tangerine Dream Tangerine Dream is a German electronic music band founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese. The group has seen many personnel changes over the years, with Froese having been the only continuous member until his death in January 2015. The best-known line ...
.
Boyd Rice Boyd Blake Rice (born December 16, 1956) is an American experimental sound/noise musician using the name of NON since the mid-1970s, archivist, actor, photographer, author, member of the ''Partridge Family Temple'' religious group, co-founder of ...
was influenced by the music of '60s girl groups and
tiki culture Tiki culture is a motif of exotically decorated bars and restaurants catering to an escapist longing for travel to tropical regions of the South Sea Islands, South Pacific. Featuring mock tiki carvings and complex, alluringly named alcoholic dri ...
.
Z'EV Z'EV (born Stefan Joel Weisser, February 8, 1951 – December 16, 2017) was an American poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of p ...
cited Christopher Tree (Spontaneous Sound),
John Coltrane John William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) was an American jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in ...
,
Miles Davis Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926September 28, 1991) was an American trumpeter The trumpet is a brass instrument commonly used in Classical music, classical and jazz musical ensemble, ensembles. The trumpet group ranges from the piccolo ...

Miles Davis
,
Tim Buckley Timothy Charles Buckley III (February 14, 1947 – June 29, 1975) was an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer. His music and style changed considerably through the years. Buckley began his career based in folk music Folk music ...
,
Jimi Hendrix James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most ...

Jimi Hendrix
, and Captain Beefheart, among others together with
Tibetan Tibetan may mean: * of, from, or related to Tibet * Tibetan people, an ethnic group * Tibetan language: ** Classical Tibetan, the classical language used also as a contemporary written standard ** Standard Tibetan, the most widely used spoken dialec ...
,
Balinese Balinese may refer to: *Bali, an Indonesian island *Balinese art *Balinese dance *Balinese people *Balinese language **Balinese script **Balinese (Unicode block) *Balinese mythology *Balinese cat, a cat breed *Balinese Gamelan, local music *Balinese ...
, Javanese,
Indian Indian or Indians refers to people or things related to India, or to the indigenous people of the Americas, or Aboriginal Australians until the 19th century. People South Asia * Indian people, people of Indian nationality, or people who come ...
, and
African music African music is a tradition mainly played at gatherings at special occasions. The traditional music of Africa, given the vastness of the continent, is historically ancient, rich and diverse, with different regions and nations of Africa ...
as influential in his artistic life. Cabaret Voltaire cited
Roxy Music Roxy Music were an English rock music, rock band formed in 1970 by Bryan Ferry—who became the band's lead singer and main songwriter—and bass guitarist Graham Simpson (musician), Graham Simpson. The other longtime members were Phil Manzan ...

Roxy Music
as their initial forerunners, as well as Kraftwerk's '' Trans-Europe Express''. Cabaret Voltaire also recorded pieces reminiscent of ''
musique concrète Musique concrète (; ): " problem for any translator of an academic work in French is that the language is relatively abstract and theoretical compared to English; one might even say that the mode of thinking itself tends to be more schematic, with ...
'' and composers such as
Morton Subotnick at his studio, New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Asia, NYU (2012) Morton Subotnick (born April 14, 1933) is an United States of America, American composer of electronic music, best known for his 1967 composition ''Silver Apples of the ...
.
Nurse with Wound Nurse with Wound (abbreviated NWW) is the main recording name for British musician Steven Stapleton. Nurse with Wound was originally a band, formed in 1978 by Stapleton, John Fothergill and Heman Pathak. The band's work has explored genres suc ...

Nurse with Wound
cited a long list of obscure free improvisation and
Krautrock Krautrock (also called , German for ) is a broad genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it norma ...
as recommended listening. 23 Skidoo borrowed from
Fela Kuti Fela Aníkúlápó Kuti (born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti; 15 October 1938 – 2 August 1997), also known as Abami Eda, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist A multi-instrumentalist is a musician who plays two or more musical instru ...

Fela Kuti
and Miles Davis's ''
On the Corner ''On the Corner'' is a studio album by American jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and r ...

On the Corner
''. Many industrial groups, including
Einstürzende Neubauten (, "Collapsing New Buildings") is a German experimental music Experimental music is a general label for any music that pushes existing boundaries and genre definitions. Experimental compositional practice is defined broadly by exploratory sen ...

Einstürzende Neubauten
, took inspiration from
world music World music is an English phrase for styles of music from non-Western countries, including quasi-traditional, intercultural, and traditional music. World music's inclusive nature and elasticity as a musical category pose obstacles to a universa ...
. Many of the initial industrial musicians preferred to cite artists or thinkers, rather than musicians, as their inspiration.
Simon Reynolds Simon Reynolds (born 19 June 1963) is an English music journalist and author who began his professional career on the staff of ''Melody Maker ''Melody Maker'' was a British weekly music magazine, one of the world's earliest music weeklies, ...

Simon Reynolds
declares that "Being a Throbbing Gristle fan was like enrolling in a university course of cultural extremism."
John Cage John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical ...
was an initial inspiration for Throbbing Gristle. SPK appreciated
Jean Dubuffet Jean Philippe Arthur Dubuffet (31 July 1901 – 12 May 1985) was a French Painting, painter and sculpture, sculptor. His idealistic approach to aesthetics embraced so-called "low art" and eschewed traditional standards of beauty in favor of what h ...
,
Marcel Duchamp Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp (; ; 28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968) was a French Americans, French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. Duchamp is commonly regarded, a ...

Marcel Duchamp
,
Jean Baudrillard Jean Baudrillard ( , , ; 27 July 1929 – 6 March 2007) was a French sociology, sociologist, philosopher and sociology of culture, cultural theorist. He is best known for his analyses of Media (communication), media, contemporary culture, and tec ...

Jean Baudrillard
,
Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault (, ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, History of ideas, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and Literary criticism, literary critic. Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship ...

Michel Foucault
,
Walter Benjamin Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (; ; 15 July 1892 – 26 September 1940) was a German Jewish philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philo ...

Walter Benjamin
,
Marshall McLuhan Herbert Marshall McLuhan (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Province ...

Marshall McLuhan
,
Friedrich Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, me ...

Friedrich Nietzsche
, and
Gilles Deleuze Gilles Deleuze (; ; 18 January 1925 – 4 November 1995) was a French philosopher who, from the early 1950s until his death in 1995, wrote on philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such a ...

Gilles Deleuze
, as well as being inspired by the manifesto of the eponymous
Socialist Patients' Collective The Socialist Patients' Collective (German: ''Sozialistisches Patientenkollektiv'', and known as the SPK) is a patients' collective founded in Heidelberg, West Germany, in February 1970, by Wolfgang Huber (born 1935). The kernel of the SPK's Ideolo ...
. Cabaret Voltaire took conceptual cues from Burroughs,
J. G. Ballard James Graham Ballard (15 November 193019 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, satirist, and essayist who first became associated with the New Wave of science fiction for his post-apocalyptic novels such as '' The Drowned Wor ...
, and
Tristan Tzara Tristan Tzara (; ; born Samuel or Samy Rosenstock, also known as S. Samyro; – 25 December 1963) was a Romanian and French avant-garde The avant-garde (; In 'advance guard' or '', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are exper ...

Tristan Tzara
.
Whitehouse Whitehouse may refer to: People * Charles S. Whitehouse Charles Sheldon Whitehouse (November 5, 1921 – June 25, 2001) was an American career diplomat. He was United States Ambassador to Laos This is a list of Ambassadors of the United Sta ...
and
Nurse with Wound Nurse with Wound (abbreviated NWW) is the main recording name for British musician Steven Stapleton. Nurse with Wound was originally a band, formed in 1978 by Stapleton, John Fothergill and Heman Pathak. The band's work has explored genres suc ...

Nurse with Wound
dedicated some of their work to the
Marquis de Sade Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (; 2 June 1740 – 2 December 1814), was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer famous for his libertine human sexuality, sexuality. His works include novels, short stori ...
; the latter also took impetus from the Comte de Lautréamont. Another influence on the industrial aesthetic was Lou Reed's ''
Metal Machine Music ''Metal Machine Music'' (subtitled ''*The Amine β Ring'') is the fifth studio album packaged in book form, like a photograph album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), Phonograph recor ...
''. ''Pitchfork Music'' cites this album as "inspiring, in part, much of the contemporary avant-garde music scene—noise, in particular." The album consists entirely of guitar feedback, anticipating industrial's use of non-musical sounds. ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of a ...

The New York Times
'' described American avant-garde band
The Residents The Residents are an American art collective An artist collective is an initiative that is the result of a group of artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art ...
as having "presaged forms of punk, new wave and industrial music".


Industrial Records

''Industrial Music for Industrial People'' was originally coined by
Monte Cazazza Monte Cazazza is an American artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse refers to a practitioner i ...
as the strapline for the record label
Industrial Records Industrial Records is a record label established in 1976 by industrial music Industrial music is a genre of music that draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic defines industrial music as the "most abrasive a ...
, founded by British art-provocateurs Throbbing Gristle. Kilpatrick, Nancy. ''The Goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined''. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2004, , p. 86. The first wave of this music appeared with Throbbing Gristle, from London; Cabaret Voltaire, from Sheffield; and Boyd Rice (recording under the name NON), from the United States. Throbbing Gristle first performed in 1976, and began as the musical offshoot of the
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-based
COUM Transmissions COUM Transmissions was a music and performance art collective who operated in the United Kingdom from 1969 through to 1976. The collective was influenced by the Dada and surrealism artistic movements, the writers of the Beat Generation, and undergro ...
.''RE/Search'' #6/7, p. 17. COUM was initially a psychedelic rock group, but began to describe their work as
performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be witnessed live or through documentation, spontaneously developed or written, and is traditionally presented to a pu ...
in order to obtain grants from the
Arts Council of Great Britain The Arts Council of Great Britain was a non-departmental public body dedicated to the promotion of the fine arts in Great Britain. It was divided in 1994 to form the Arts Council of England (now Arts Council England), the Scottish Arts Council, an ...
. COUM was composed of P-Orridge and
Cosey Fanni Tutti Cosey Fanni Tutti (born Christine Carol Newby; 4 November 1951) is an English performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be live, through docu ...
. Beginning in 1972, COUM staged several performances inspired by
Fluxus Fluxus was an international, interdisciplinary community of artists, composers, designers and poets during the 1960s and 1970s who engaged in experimental art performances which emphasized the artistic process over the finished product. Fluxus ...
and
Viennese Actionism Viennese Actionism was a short and violent movement in 20th-century art. It can be regarded as part of the many independent efforts of the 1960s to develop "performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions ...
. These included various acts of sexual and physical abjection.
Peter Christopherson Peter may refer to: People * List of people named Peter, a list of people and fictional characters with the given name * Peter (given name) ** Saint Peter (died 60s), apostle of Jesus, leader of the early Christian Church * Peter (surname), a surn ...
, an employee of commercial artists
Hipgnosis Hipgnosis was an English art design group based in London that specialised in creating album cover, cover art for the albums of Rock and roll, rock musicians and bands. Notable commissions included work for Pink Floyd, T. Rex (band), T. Rex, the ...
, joined the group in 1974, with Carter joining the following year. The group renamed itself Throbbing Gristle in September 1975, their name coming from a northern English slang word for an erection. The group's first public performance, in October 1976, was alongside an exhibit titled ''Prostitution'', which included pornographic photos of Tutti as well as used tampons. Conservative politician
Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Hardwick Fairbairn, (24 December 1933 – 19 February 1995) was a Scottish politician. He was the Conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institution ...
declared that "public money is being wasted here to destroy the morality of our society" and blasted the group as "wreckers of civilization." The group announced their dissolution in 1981, declaring that their "mission" has been "terminated."


Wax Trax! Records

Chicago record label Wax Trax! Records was prominent in the widespread attention industrial music received starting in the early 1980s. The label was started by Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher. The label's first official release was an EP in 1980 entitled ''Immediate Action'' by Strike Under. The label went on to distribute some of the most prominent names in industrial throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Wax Trax! also distributed industrial releases in the United States for the Belgium record label Play It Again Sam Records, and had opened a North American office dubbed Play It Again Sam U.S.A. as a division of Wax Trax!. Wax Trax! was subsequently purchased by TVT Records in 1992 who closed the independent Chicago label in 2001. Jim's Daughter, Julia Nash, resurrected Wax Trax! Records in 2011 with a 3 day charity event titled Wax Trax! Retrospectacle - 33 1/3 Year Anniversary. Julia officially released new material in 2014 under the Wax Trax! imprint and continues to run the record label from Chicago.


Expansion of the scene

The bands Clock DVA, Nocturnal Emissions,
Whitehouse Whitehouse may refer to: People * Charles S. Whitehouse Charles Sheldon Whitehouse (November 5, 1921 – June 25, 2001) was an American career diplomat. He was United States Ambassador to Laos This is a list of Ambassadors of the United Sta ...
,
Nurse with Wound Nurse with Wound (abbreviated NWW) is the main recording name for British musician Steven Stapleton. Nurse with Wound was originally a band, formed in 1978 by Stapleton, John Fothergill and Heman Pathak. The band's work has explored genres suc ...

Nurse with Wound
, and SPK soon followed. Whitehouse intended to play "the most brutal and extreme music of all time", a style they eventually called power electronics (music), power electronics. An early collaborator with Whitehouse, Steve Stapleton, formed Nurse with Wound, who experimented with noise sculpture and sound collage. Clock DVA described their goal as borrowing equally from surrealist automatism and "nervous energy sort of funk stuff, body music that flinches you and makes you move." 23 Skidoo, like Clock DVA, merged industrial music with African-American dance music, but also performed a response to world music. Performing at the first WOMAD Festival in 1982, the group likened themselves to Indonesian gamelan. Swedish act Leather Nun were signed to Industrial Records in 1978, being the first non-TG/Cazazza act to have an IR-release. Their singles eventually received significant airplay in the United States on college radio. Across the Atlantic, similar experiments were taking place. In San Francisco, performance artist
Monte Cazazza Monte Cazazza is an American artist An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse refers to a practitioner i ...
began recording noise music. Boyd Rice released several albums of noise, with guitar drones and tape loops creating a cacophony of repetitive sounds. In Boston, Sleep Chamber and other artists from Inner-X-Musick began experimenting with a mixture of powerful noise and early forms of Electronic body music, EBM. In Italy, work by Maurizio Bianchi at the beginning of the 1980s also shared this aesthetic. In Germany, Einstürzende Neubauten mixed metal percussion, guitars, and unconventional instruments (such as jackhammers and bones) in stage performances that often damaged the venues in which they played. Blixa Bargeld, inspired by Antonin Artaud and an enthusiasm for amphetamines, also originated an art movement called Die Genialen Dilettanten. Bargeld is particularly well known for his hissing scream. In January 1984, Einstürzende Neubauten performed a ''Concerto for Voice and Machinery'' at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (the same site as COUM's ''Prostitution'' exhibition), drilling through the floor and eventually sparking a riot. This event received front-page news coverage in England. Other groups who practiced a form of industrial "metal music" (that is, produced by the sounds of metal crashing against metal) include Test Dept, Laibach (band), Laibach, and Die Krupps, as well as Z'EV and SPK. Test Dept were largely inspired by Russian Futurism and toured to support the UK miners' strike (1984–1985), 1984-85 UK miners' strike.
Skinny Puppy Skinny Puppy is a Canadian industrial music Industrial music is a genre of music that draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic AllMusic (previously known as All Music Guide and AMG) is an American online ...
embraced a variety of industrial forefathers and created a lurching, impalatable whole from many pieces. Swans (band), Swans, from New York City, also practiced a metal music aesthetic, though reliant on standard rock instrumentation. Laibach, a Slovenian group who began while Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia remained a single state, were very controversial for their iconographic borrowings from Stalinism, Stalinist, Nazi, Titoist, Dada, and Russian Futurist imagery, conflating Yugoslav patriotism with its German authoritarian adversary. Slavoj Žižek has defended Laibach, arguing that they and their associated Neue Slowenische Kunst art group practice an overidentification with the hidden perverse enjoyment undergirding authority that produces a subversive and liberatory effect. In simpler language, Laibach practiced a type of agitprop that was widely utilized by industrial and punk artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Following the breakup of Throbbing Gristle, P-Orridge and Christopherson founded Psychic TV and signed to a major label. Their first album was much more accessible and melodic than the usual industrial style, and included hired work by trained musicians. Later work returned to the sound collage and noise elements of earlier industrial. They also borrowed from funk and disco. P-Orridge also founded Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, a quasi-religious organization that produced video art. Psychic TV's commercial aspirations were managed by Stevo of Some Bizzare Records, who released many of the later industrial musicians, including Einstürzende Neubauten, Test Dept, and Cabaret Voltaire. Around 1983, Cabaret Voltaire members were deeply interested in funk music and, with the encouragement of their friends from New Order (band), New Order, began to develop a form of dark but danceable electrofunk. Christopherson left Psychic TV in 1983 and formed Coil (band), Coil with John Balance. Coil made use of gongs and bullroarers in an attempt to conjur "Martian," "homosexual energy". David Tibet, a friend of Coil's, formed Current 93; both groups were inspired by amphetamines and LSD. J. G. Thirlwell, a co-producer with Coil, developed a version of black comedy in industrial music, borrowing from lounge music, lounge as well as noise and film music. In the early 1980s, the Chicago-based record label Wax Trax! and Canada's Nettwerk helped to expand the industrial music genre into the more accessible electro-industrial and
industrial rock Industrial rock is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular ...
genres.


Characteristics and history

The birth of industrial music was a response to "an age [in which] the access and control of information were becoming the primary tools of power."The Secret History of Rock: The Most Influential Bands You've Never Heard by Roni Sarig At its birth, the genre of industrial music was different from any other music, and its use of technology and disturbing lyrics and themes to tear apart preconceptions about the necessary rules of musical form supports the suggestion that industrial music is modernist music. The artists themselves made these goals explicit, even drawing connections to social changes they wished to argue for through their music. The Industrial Records website explains that the musicians wanted to re-invent rock music, and that their uncensored records were about their relationship with the world. They go on to say that they wanted their music to be an awakening for listeners so that they would begin to think for themselves and question the world around them. Industrial Records intended the term ''industrial'' to evoke the idea of music created for a new generation, with previous music being more ''agricultural'': P-Orridge stated that "there's an irony in the word 'industrial' because there's the music ''industry''. And then there's the joke we often used to make in interviews about churning out our records like motorcars —''that'' sense of industrial. And ... up till then the music had been kind of based on the blues and slavery, and we thought it was time to update it to at least Victorian times—you know, the Industrial Revolution". Early industrial music often featured tape editing, stark percussion and loops distorted to the point where they had degraded to harsh noise, such as the work of early industrial group Cabaret Voltaire, which journalist Simon Reynolds described as characterized by "hissing high hats and squelchy snares of rhythm-generator." Carter of Throbbing Gristle invented a device named the "Gristle-izer", played by Christopherson, which comprised a one-octave keyboard and a number of cassette machines triggering various pre-recorded sounds. Traditional instruments were often played in nontraditional or highly modified ways. Reynolds described the Cabaret Voltaire members' individual contributions as "Chris Watson (musician), [Chris] Watson's smears of synth slime; Stephen Mallinder, [Stephen] Mallinder's dankly pulsing bass; and Richard H. Kirk, [Richard H.] Kirk's spikes of shattered-glass guitar." Watson custom-built a fuzzbox for Kirk's guitar, producing a unique timbre. Carter built speakers, effects units, and synthesizer modules, as well as modifying more conventional rock instrumentation, for Throbbing Gristle. Tutti played guitar with a slide in order to produce glissando, glissandi, or pounded the strings as if it were a percussion instrument. Throbbing Gristle also played at very high volume and produced ultra-high and sub-bass frequencies in an attempt to produce physical effects, naming this approach as "metabolic music." Vocals were sporadic, and were as likely to be bubblegum pop as they were to be abrasive polemics. Cabaret Voltaire's Stephen Mallinder's vocals were electronically treated. The purpose of industrial music initially was to serve as a commentary on modern society by eschewing what artists saw as trite connections to the past. Throbbing Gristle opposed the elements of traditional rock music remaining in the punk rock scene, declaring industrial to be "anti-music." Early industrial performances often involved taboo-breaking, provocative elements, such as mutilation, sado-masochistic elements and totalitarian imagery or symbolism, as well as forms of audience abuse,''RE/Search'' #6/7, p. 5. such as Throbbing Gristle's aiming high powered lights at the audience.Ford, 8.10 Industrial groups typically focus on transgressive art, transgressive subject matter. In his introduction for the ''Industrial Culture Handbook'' (1983), Jon Savage considered some hallmarks of industrial music to be organizational autonomy, shock tactics, and the use of synthesizers and "anti-music." Furthermore, an interest in the investigation of "cults, wars, psychological techniques of persuasion, unusual murders (especially by children and psychopaths), forensic pathology, venereology, concentration camp behavior, the history of uniforms and insignia" and Aleister Crowley's ''magick (Aleister Crowley), magick'' was present in Throbbing Gristle's work, as well as in other industrial pioneers. Burroughs's recordings and writings were particularly influential on the scene, particularly his interest in the cut-up technique and noise as a method of disrupting societal control. Many of the first industrial musicians were interested in, though not necessarily sympathetic with, fascism. Throbbing Gristle's logo was based on the Flash and Circle, lightning symbol of the British Union of Fascists, while the Industrial Records logo was a photo of Auschwitz.


Expansion and offshoots (late 1980s and early 1990s)

As some of the originating bands drifted away from the genre in the 1980s, industrial music expanded to include bands influenced by new wave music, hip hop music, jazz, disco, reggae, and new age music, sometimes incorporating pop music songwriting. A number of additional styles developed from the already eclectic base of industrial music. These offshoots include fusions with noise music, ambient music, folk music, post-punk and electronic dance music, as well as other mutations and developments. The scene has spread worldwide, and is particularly well represented in North America, Europe, and Japan. Substyles inspired by industrial music include dark ambient, Power electronics (music), power electronics, Japanoise, neofolk, electro-industrial, electronic body music, industrial hip hop,
industrial rock Industrial rock is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1970s and became widely popular ...
,
industrial metal Industrial metal is the fusion of heavy metal Heavy metal may refer to: *Heavy metals, a loose category of relatively dense metals and metalloids **Toxic heavy metal, any heavy metal chemical element of environmental concern *Heavy metal musi ...
, industrial pop, martial industrial, power noise, and Witch house (music genre), witch house.


Mainstream success (1990s and 2000s)

In the 1990s, industrial music broke into the mainstream. The genre, previously ignored or criticized by music journalists, grew popular with disaffected middle-class youth in suburban and rural areas. By this time, the genre had become broad enough that journalist James Greer (writer), James Greer called it "the kind of meaningless catch-all term that new wave once was". A number of acts associated with industrial music achieved commercial success during this period including
Nine Inch Nails Nine Inch Nails, commonly abbreviated as NIN and stylized as NIИ, is an American industrial rock Industrial rock is an alternative rock Alternative rock (also called alternative music, alt-rock, or simply alternative) is a category of ...
, Marilyn Manson (band), Marilyn Manson,
Rammstein Rammstein (, "ramming stone") is a German Neue Deutsche Härte band formed in Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within c ...

Rammstein
and Orgy (band), Orgy. Through the 1990s Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson had several albums and EPs certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), including Nine Inch Nails' ''Broken (Nine Inch Nails EP), Broken'' (1992), ''The Downward Spiral'' (1994) and ''The Fragile (Nine Inch Nails album), The Fragile'',, and Marilyn Manson's ''Antichrist Superstar'' (1996) and ''Mechanical Animals''.


See also

*''Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music'' *Cassette culture *Experimental music *Rivethead *Steampunk *List of industrial music festivals *List of industrial music bands *List of industrial music genres


Footnotes


References

* * * * * * {{Good article Industrial music, Electronic music genres British styles of music Cassette culture 1970s–1990s