Sunday, December 07, 2008

Recession, Repression, Regression

Photo © Alexei Monroe

Your tyranny

I was part of
Is now cracking
On every side
And your own life
Is in danger
Your empire
Is on fire

Front 242 - Gripped by Fear

For some time now this 1991 track by Front 242 has seemed increasingly relevant, above all because of the opening line: Recession, Repression, Regression. What better description could there be of the current situation in Britain and beyond? Ever since its emergence in crisis-stricken 1970s Britain, industrial music has had an uncanny knack of putting its finger on present and imminent social, political and economic tensions. Inspired by this we decided to compile a list of tracks which seem especially relevant now. Some of these are from first-wave industrial groups and have found their time yet again. Others are from second and third-wave industrial groups but we have cast the net wider to draw in tracks from related industrialised genres: EBM, Digital Hardcore, Speedcore Techno, 'Rhythm n Noise' and Power Electronics. This is an initial collective list compiled by ICRN friends and members, but it will doubtless grow, particularly as the crisis inevitably intensifies and becomes more severe.

A Challenge of Honour - Here We Go Again

Absolute Body Control - Figures, Is there an Exit?

Alec Empire - Nobody Gets Out Alive!, Burn Babylon Burn

Black Leather Jesus – Manipulating the Masses

Bleiburg - Oil in their Eyes

Brandkommando - Economy of violence, Neokolonializm, War War War, U S Aggression, War and Occupation, Storm in Europe, Suicide, The End

Brighter Death Now – No Tomorrow

Cabaret Voltaire – Kneel to the Boss, This is Entertainment,

Consolidated - Friendly Fascism

Contrastate - The End of History?, Extinction

Coph Nia - Holy War

Cyborg Attack - Blutgeld

Death Funk - The New World Order

DJ 6666 feat. The Illegals - Welcome To The Shit Generation

Fad Gadget - State Of the Nation

Front 242 – Gripped by Fear, Welcome to Paradise

Gerechtigkeits Liga - End of the Present, Controlled Europe

The Grey Wolves - Red Terror Black Terror

Laibach – Wirtschaft ist Tot, Das Spiel ist Aus, Das Ende, Now You Will Pay

Low Entropy - Urban Uprising

Materialschlacht – The End of Depression

Ministry - Fear Is Big Business

Sektion B – The World is on Fire

Severed Heads- Petrol


Sonic Subjunkies - Railton Road Blues
Test Dept. - 51ST State Of America, Pax Americana

Thorofon – Riotdictator, Digital Human Kontrol, You Vote/ We Choose, Humans As Product

Toroidh - Europe Is Dead

Tyske Ludder - Khaled Aker

Winterkälte РGenetic Imperialism

Friday, May 16, 2008

I.C.R.N. Editorial: The Right to Research

In January we published an extract from Peter Webb’s new book in which he deals with the problematic stances and associations of Death In June, Tony Wakeford and other artists associated with the so-called neofolk scene and charts a history of their work. Subsequently, Webb published an interview with Wakeford in which the latter freely discusses and disowns his openly admitted right-wing past. In response to this Stewart Home published a typically hysterical article on his website in which he accuses Webb of being an apologist for the far-right music scene. This stance is dangerous in at least two respects. If taken seriously (never an entirely advisable option in Home’s case) it suggests that Home and/or his associates should have or aspire to have a right of veto over what can or cannot be researched. This represents a clear attack on academic freedom and an attempt to prevent free debate on a controversial topic (as we will see, Home has a strong vested interest in keeping this debate as limited as possible). Home has also labelled Webb as a ‘fanboy’. It is hard to know what to make of this. Does it mean that anyone researching a group is disqualified from expressing appreciation for its music? Moreover, it is hard to think of any example of a ‘fanboy academic’ whose praise could ever equal the cringingly embarrassing praise which Home once showered on Wakeford. A truly spectacular example of this appears in the following text which we recently received. As recent events have suggested that Home has influence over some violent individuals, the author will be known only as ‘a friend in Newcastle.’ Judging from the evidence presented in this piece it is hard not to draw the conclusion that Home is a) seeking to obscure his own past connections with Wakeford and others b) that this is part of a wider attempt to initiate a scare campaign intended to shut down industrial and neofolk events. Last year, Home posted an anonymous article on the Metamute website. This appears to have triggered a violent assault on a member of the audience at the Boyd Rice show but, more positively, provoked a spirited defence of the scene and of the right for individuals to make their own cultural choices, even if they are controversial or distasteful to others. Two things emerged clearly from the debate which ensued. Firstly, Home’s inability to engage in any kind of ordered debate without lapsing into self-parodic abuse. Secondly, that attending shows of this type does not represent any sort of automatic endorsement of the groups’ politics and that much of the audience are (currently) apolitical or even from a leftist background. Moreover, there was no agitation or political propaganda present at this or similar events. Luckily, most British anti-fascists don’t seem to have been persuaded that that harassing a minority music scene is more important (if less dangerous) than confronting actual far-right activists. Some of these groups engage in tasteless flirtation and have views which can be condemned. However, we suspect that Home and his masters remain intent not just on criticising and exposing problematic views but ultimately on criminalising an entire swathe of neofolk and industrial activity. Given the colossal hypocrisy of Home’s stance and the likely radicalising effects on non- or anti-political followers of these scenes, it should be clear that there is a danger that such activity will alienate or disgust people whose worldview is as critical of fascism as of other ideologies but who refuse to have their cultural interests censored and controlled by self-appointed cultural cleansers…

The Stewart Home Syndrome; Sol Invictus, "Intellectual decompostion" and other mindless projective tantrums.

So we should ask the question, who is Stewart Home and why is he getting so worked up?

Stewart Home, or Herr Heimat as perhaps we should call him, has been busy protecting the hapless, the stupid, the easily led, the politically unaware and the grammatically challenged from fascist art, worthless music and criminally superannuated academics. Stewart is an author, hoaxer, politico, public speaker and psycho-geographer. He considers himself to be one of the finest living authors since Alexander Trocchi, William Burroughs, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Irvine Welsh (to name a few) and has written books with evocative titles such as 'Cunt', 'Blow Job' and 'Slow Death'. He has a literary style that avoids complex narrative and plot for a type of writing that has been better expressed in hardcore porn. Here is an example of one of his finer pieces of text:

"Then she dropped her jeans and got me to lick out her funky twat. It tasted a hell of a lot better than the pre-packaged in-flight meal I’d just eaten. The girl sat down on the toilet bowl and I licked her clit while she took a shit. She stood up again and said I could fuck her up the arse. We didn’t need a lubricant, her lunch hadn’t agreed with her and she’d just had a very loose crap. The computer scientist’s sphincter was well stretched and I didn’t have any problems getting my cock up there. (Cunt, p.97)"

Stewie litters this tome with the sexual conquests and adventures of a character called David Kelso, possibly because Home’s obsessive character fantasises about being the libertine he has created; a character of misogynistic bent who uses women as disposable sex objects. Maybe Stewie, as a good left leftist, has always held a deep seated disgust and mistrust of women and this is his way playing out what would otherwise be an unacceptable position for a man of his high morals, principles and politics.

Herr Heimat also seems to be disturbed by people lying to him. Musician Tony Wakeford apparently lied to him about his involvement in the band Above The Ruins which seems to have led to Stewie disbelieving everything else Wakeford says and does. Wakeford was in a band called Above The Ruins, he was in the National Front (in the mid 1980s), was a member of IONA (Rightist cultural group who were taken over by the NF) and was a racist, he now claims that he deeply regrets his involvement in these organisations and has rejected the racism of that period of his life. He says he’s not interested in those politics, or in the brand of cultural, Gramscian, war of positioning that some rightist musicians such as Troy Southgate obviously are. If he is involved in any kind of fascist positioning in the neo-folk music scene he is keeping it well hidden from everyone around him and especially the musicians he works with. Caroline Jago and Lesley Malone (Sol musicians) would actually describe themselves as leftists.

Still, Stewart is not averse to a bit of lying himself: in an interview with Charlotte Cooper about his mother, Stewart discusses his public, obsessive vendetta with Michael Prigent and Larry O’ Hara:

“…my fun and outgoing side comes from my mom. She wasn’t judgmental but if it wasn’t for her there are individuals who I dislike who I’d have probably never had any negative feelings about. I’m thinking of people like the pro-situ Michel Prigent who she knew, and to the best of my knowledge his public vendetta against me stems from the fact he has some weird feelings about my mom who he seems to have met through people like beat writer/situationist Alex Trocchi.”[i]

In truth, 1) Michel Prigent never knew Home’s mother, and therefore, 2) cannot harbour any feelings about her, “weird” or otherwise, and 3) it is Home who is pursuing the “public vendetta.” Why the vendetta? Because in the mid-nineties Prigent, along with Larry O’Hara and myself [David Black – author of the piece] called Home to account for his strange associations with the fascist rock scene, in particular, one Tony Wakeford.[ii] The article goes on to examine Home’s love of Sol Invictus and Tony Wakeford even mentioning that Home did a piece in a Wakeford book of song lyrics. Here are some surprising highlights from his three page introduction to "Above Us the Sun" (a Tony Wakeford lyric book):

"Kierkegaard long sought but never found an example of a knight of the faith…..Tony Wakeford is the knight of the faith, he has gazed into the black abyss at the heart of our century and his penetrating eyes have exposed the emptiness of this world…..Wakeford is a genius….just look once again at his lyrics and you will see that this is true." (Home, 1996, pp1 – 3)

The principiadialectica article also has a discussion of Wakeford as being a fascist in the mid eighties period i.e. roughly 1982 – 1987. So it turns out that Herr Heimat was in fact a Death In June, Sol Invictus, Current 93 loving fan who was chastened by people in his political and social milieu enough to make him rethink his position and deny his true musical love. All of this maybe explains the lengths to which a busy, media celebrated author like Home, has gone to pursue the obsession with Wakeford et al even further. An interview with Wakeford[iii] suggests that he is over his fascism in all its different guises and we would go further to say that he has realised the error of past associations with the NF, IONA and Evola and that area of political or philosophical thought. If we’re wrong then it is a cover up that Wakeford is doing so well that there is no trace of any fascist activity since IONA. So, while Wakeford clearly admits to and expresses regret for past errors, Home desperately attempts to deflect attention from his own past by tarring everyone and anyone with the same fascist brush in order to present himself as a doughty anti-fascist fighter. As for the Gramscian war of position that Home suggests is being taken up by many in the neo-folk scene; we would agree with him that some have taken that route very seriously. They; bands such as Herr and Von Thronsthal, have got a position in this scene but are not that influential as yet. The debate of ideas and challenging responses to them can be opened up by the promotion of work that disrupts and provokes these projects with alternative agendas and stimulating artworks. New agendas require new active cultural production.

Throughout these exchanges Home has shown complete disregard for the lack of any evidence of Wakeford’s current fascist involvements and also a high level of ego in wanting all around him to agree with what he says or risk being accused of being a Nazi sympathiser or of being used by the shadowy occult-fascist axis that stalks this twilight world of neo-folk. It is interesting to note that Home, in his article on Wakeford and fascism, names Gary Smith as a member of No Remorse (skinhead far right band) and bass player on some Above the Ruins material, and uses this individual as 'guilt by association' evidence for Wakeford’s fascist involvement. Yet it seems that in the mid to late 1980s when Home mixed with the Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill scene in London, Gary Smiths girlfriend used to regularly pop round to Home’s house to use the photocopier to copy material for Smith. Should we see this as another example of his own guilt by association that he now `projects’ onto others who disagree with him?

Finally, would-be Gauleiter Home wants us all to take his work oh so seriously and even suggests that people quote him as the ‘seal of approval’ for `their’ own work. His Anarchist Integralism being one work that he wants everyone to quote from as the authoritative source. The continuing theme here is that he suggests that anarchism and fascism are twin bed fellows because of Proudhon’s anti Semitism and Bakunin’s ‘proto-nazi conspiracy theories’ [iv]. Within this piece he resorts to a pseudo scientific explanation suggesting that Proudhon, Kropotkin and Bakunin betray a 'congenital weakness within the anarchist creed' by linking them to 'forms and practices' that bolstered the nation state. This again fails to take account of over 100 years of developments in anarchism, the rise of anarcho-syndicalism and its part in the Spanish Civil War plus the trajectories of anarchism in Britain through a variety of groups ranging from Class War and Direct Action Movement through to the Anarchist Workers Group amongst many others. Home’s attention to minutiae distorts his ability to see difference and change within political movements that are operating in very different circumstances to the anarchists of the 1800s and the position of anarchists in revolutionary Russia. Home seems obsessed with a continuing identification of the stable subjectivities of those he criticises that are patently unsustainable even for him. To use his own pejorative term he has himself been an 'obsessive fanboy' of the works of Douglas P, Tony Wakeford and others in this scene. He idolised their work when Wakeford was a member of a fascist organisation (mid eighties when he still liked DIJ) and he has now become their most obsessive critic and stalker at a time when Wakeford has publicly disowned his fascist past. In fact, the more he harks on about this issue the more he holds up a distorted mirror to his own contradictions and hypocrisies.

It’s interesting to speculate why he should feel the need to exhume this issue (which has its roots in an obscure personal vendetta) at this time. Could it perhaps be that he wants to reassure his new fans in the mainstream media that he really is more ‘accessible’ and less tainted by now embarrassing sub-cultural connections? Curators and literary types seem quite susceptible to his shtick but it’s probably safer to distract them from some of the more interesting aspects of his past: they don’t like it too transgressive!


Monday, April 07, 2008

I.C.R.N. Newsflash: Gerechtigkeits Liga play Wave Gotik

Gerechtigkeits Liga have now been confirmed to play at Wave-Gotik-Treffen 08!"

Please check for updates on the time and venue on the WGT website. This is a rare live appearance for GL and coincides with the imminent release of their retrospective double LP and DVD set on Vinyl on Demand.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

From Crisis to Death in June

From Crisis to Death in June

We present an extract from I.C.R.N. member Peter Webb’s new book, `Exploring the Networked Worlds of Popular Music: Milieu Cultures’.

This section is taken from Chapter Four of the book: Neo-folk or Post-industrial music: The development of an esoteric music milieu and addresses directly the ideological controversies surrounding DIJ.

The full chapter contents are:

1 - Influences, musical milieu, musical lifeworld,


2 - Death In June and the developing esoteric music milieu of the 1980s


3 - From political crisis to the creativity of the `petit mort' of


4 - From Crisis to Death In June.

5 - Paganism, Heathenism and the spiritual element.

6 - Politics, philosophy and ambiguity.

7 - Conclusion.

As the 1980s started and the post punk element of the music scene developed (see Reynolds, S, 2005) the two founder members of Crisis had decided to move in an entirely different direction than before. Their belief in left wing politics had been chipped away at by the dogma, chaotic organization and blind membership drives of the far left groups they had been a part of. Now they looked away from the politics of the left to an aesthetic and artistic understanding driven by a creative vision that combined some of the iconography of fascism and the spirituality of a European past that looked to its pagan traditions rather than those of Christianity and ideas from writers such as Jean Genet, Yukio Mishima, Mirbeau and Lautremont. Musically a mixture of Scott Walker, Ennio Morricone, The Beatles, Love, The Velvet Underground, Joy Division and military percussion and trumpet calls were folded into the new project of Death in June. The art of Death in June would be provocative and would `aim to please with constant unease’



The main symbols used by the band to identify them and their releases is a modified Death’s Head or Totenkopf which was used by the Prussian army under Frederick the Great through to the Totenkopfverbande (Deaths Head Division) of the SS under the tutelage of Heinrich Himmler. Douglas P has explained the use of the symbol modified to be grinning slightly and with the number 6 beside it as `deaths head for Death and the 6 for the month of June’. Death in June’s first release was called Heaven Street and came out on the bands own label which was titled `New European Recordings’. The cover for the record was a textured brown sleeve that had two gold stripes down one side and an embossed Death in June in brown across the cover. In the middle was set a photo of some cliff top defense buildings or control towers overlooking the sea. These could be German defence systems from world war two in the Channel Islands or systems on the French coast. The lyrics of Heaven Street also indicate the artistic and challenging direction that DIJ had taken:

Take a walk down Heaven Street

The soil is soft and the air smells sweet

Paul is waiting there

And so is Franz

Now only memories run on railway tracks.

This road leads to Heaven.

Waiting feet frozen to the ground

The earth exploding with the gas of bodies

Rifle butts

To crush you down

Now only flowers

To idolize.

This road leads to Heaven

(Taken from the DIJ website – )

The material refers to the period of history that would dominate many discussions of the group who deliberately were ambiguous about any political meaning that they may be conveying. The rise of Nazi Germany and the period of the Second World War was one that was pertinent to all three members of the group. Douglas talks about his father’s action in world war two as a fighter pilot in the RAF (DIJ DVD) and Patrick Leagas (who became the third key member of Death in June) talks of his interest in the area coming from his families’ involvement in the war:

The connection with World war 2 was a very real thing for me since my father fought through from Dunkirk onwards and beyond and so stories around the Sunday roast from my father , uncles and others infused a memory that very much connected me to a romantic but realistic awareness about that time. Wearing a German helmet and playing with old Enfield and Mauser rifles and bayonets for me was my playground. Funny how when you speak to people involved in that war how few had any hate towards the German people. They had a better understanding of the power of the individual in those days and the fact that people on both sides often had very little choice in what happened. (Interview with Patrick Leagas, 09.01.2007)

The lyric of Heaven Street that refers to `Paul is waiting there and so is Franz’ references the book by Gita Sereny about the camp commandant of Treblinka called Franz Stangl (Sereny, G, Into that Darkness: An examination of conscience, Vintage Press, 1983). In the book Sereny finds that Stangl is referred to by both names in his double life at the camp. A life that by day is the commandant who oversees all aspects of the inmate and extermination program and by night is sitting at his home, separated off from the rest of the camp acting as the perfect father and husband to his family. In an e-mail discussion with Douglas P I asked him to clarify the lyric in the song. His response is interesting and instructive:

Sometime late in 1979 I'd seen a documentary on television about a woman who had survived the war by working in the Kanada Kommando of one of the death camps. As you probably know, this was the work detachment of inmates that basically cleaned everything up in the camps from the latrines to the corpses and was so-called because it was like a 'holiday' in Canada in comparison to whatever else was going on in these places. Why Canada was chosen as opposed to, for instance, Australia, as an idyllic 'holiday' destination still baffles me. She was accompanied by her daughter who may have even directed the documentary and what amazed me was how little bitterness seemed to colour her recollections which all appeared very matter of fact-like. This included her remembering the glamorous camp commandant who would ride a horse through the camp wearing his white summer tunic. This was almost certainly Franz Stangl.

On the strength of the documentary I was moved to write the song 'Kanada Kommando' which was the last song I wrote for Crisis and was released on the 'Hymns of Faith' album in early 1980. Shortly after, the group split and Tony Wakeford and myself agreed that we should take a few months off from music, etc and reconvene down the track to see how we could carry on with something different - whatever that would be.

I was working as I petrol pump attendant in this period and during times when no customers would come in I read books. One of these was obviously 'Into That Darkness' which I had found in the local library. I began to write lyrics inspired by this book on FINA note paper, which I still have, and very soon I had the basics of what was to become the very first song I wrote for the still unformed Death In June, 'Heaven Street'.

In the late Summer/early Autumn of 1980 I took my first, of what was to be many, visits to Vienna, Austria. During that holiday I went up to the wine growing area around the city known as the Grenzing and sampled a lot of the first wine of the season known locally as 'Sturm'!

Whilst visiting a toilet in one of the wineries a local man stood next to me and started humming and whistling. He eventually turned to me and said something along the lines of "We Austrians love music!" When I left the winery shortly after on the opposite side of the road was the street sign reading; Himmelstrasse (Heaven Street)! I saw that as a 'sign' in more ways than one.

Eventually, when the first rehearsals and then recordings and then performances took place of Death In June I noticed that "Paul is waiting there and so is Franz" sounded very similar to "Poland is waiting there and so is France" which had even more connotations than any I may have originally thought of. So, that's where I stand with 'Heaven Street'. As usual, with Death in June it's not completely straight forward not even for me - 27 years on.

The lyrics to the original 'She Said Destroy' were written entirely by David Tibet in 1983 and he claimed he based the title around the French novel 'Destroy, She Said' but obviously tipped his hat in the direction of 'Heaven Street' and its influence in the rest of his text. (Email 16.04.07)

Douglas describes the taking of pieces of information and emotive material from a number of sources here to produce a lyric and piece of music that reflects his reading of the documentary and the book `Into that Darkness’ and some of his experiences whilst traveling and reflecting on the material. He is also developing his own understanding and poetic take on the events that he is referencing. This method of creating lyrics and music and juxtaposing different elements is like a more structured version of William Burroughs and Brian Gysin’s cut up method (Calder, J. 1982). It is also located in a particular time period where, as we have seen, the shadow and effect of World War Two was still being directly felt by the group of young people of Douglas’s age. Their parents still had clear recollections of the war and often had been involved in some way or another so had strong opinions of it. Children of this age were still growing up with comics that portrayed the war with titles such as War Picture Library, Battle Picture Library and Commando (Fleetway Press – now a part of IPC) they continued to fire young imaginations about these events. The 1970s was also a period where the TV series The World at War; (Thames Television also claimed to be one of the finest documentaries ever made, it was number 19 in the 100 best TV programmes ever made voted for by the British Film Institute in 2000) which over 26 episodes documented the lead up to and the history of the war and included interviews with still surviving leading figures from all sides, provided an important aural and musical voice. The theme tune of the show, an ominous, melancholic classical motif, played a part in setting the scene and as it developed through each show provided a thematic link that was particularly powerful. This programme, scheduled on a Sunday afternoon and tea time, continued to examine the specific peculiarity, horror and social and cultural importance of the War for a British audience. So in many ways the war and the development of Nazi Germany had a profound effect on the developing psyche of many a young person in the 1970s. Douglas P, Patrick Leagas and Tony Wakeford were locked in to this area of history as much as they had been locked in to a leftist, socialist/communist slant on history from their political affiliations in the 1970s and this would be examined within their art.

The title of the book; `Into that Darkness’ would appear as another Death in June lyric on the track `She Said Destroy’ which became the third single and marked the groups move towards the use of more acoustic guitar work than the more heavy drum, bass, electric guitar and militaristic trumpet of the early recordings. This approach was coupled with tracks such as `C’est un Reve’ (It’s a dream) which would appear on the bands second LP `NADA!’ and contained the lyrics:

Ou est Klaus Barbie

Ou est Klaus Barbie

Il est dans le coeur

Il est dans le coeur noir


C'est un reve

(Taken from the DIJ website – )

The lyrics here suggest that we will find Klaus Barbie (Chief of the Gestapo in Lyon, France 1942-1944, responsible for many deportations of Jews to the concentration camps) in the dark heart and that Liberty is a dream. This fits with a variety of analyses of the role of ordinary men and women in World War Two e.g. Christopher Browning’s book `Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion 101 and the final solution in Poland’ (Browning, Penguin, 2001) which shows how a group of men who had no overt previous history of far right politics could by virtue of man management and group solidarity become instruments of extreme violence, torture and death. This portrays the direction of Death In June’s art which was to combine elements that at once enliven, question, re-examine and provoke a response by juxtaposing many symbols, aesthetics, music and lyrics that in their new context, as part of DIJs art, take on new meaning and provocation. In an interview in Descent magazine the interviewer asked Douglas P:

….i would like to submit some ideas to you. I wouldn't want to stress these questions (that you certainly used to hear all the time, often asked in a tendentious manner) but I feel the paramilitary image as a symbolic warning against all the things the uniform represents. The provocation is a way to incite reflection, not remaining passive, not being easily influenced or manipulated, with a personal and omnipresent rigor and will. But, on the other side, and don't think that there's a mental reservation; the fact that you are homosexual could make the uniform a simple fetish object, indeed sexual (as I’ve read in an interview in '84).


1996-Descent )

In response to this Douglas stated that:

Except for the idea that anything to do with DEATH IN JUNE is "fun" then I can't disagree with the other theories you forward. There is more, much more but, I draw the line at "explaining the line of DIJ". This is because I find that demeaning. Those who understand do and those who don’t won't! Life is too short to spend too much time talking, until you are blue in the face. The time for pontification and overindulgence in analysis are over. Actions speak louder than words! Time is running out like water from a sink.


1996-Descent )

The milieu of Industrial music culture, punk and post-punk contained many contradictions, philosophical and political discussions, use of imagery and aesthetics as provocation and stimulation or questioning, and the exploration of many positions of different politics, ideologies, spiritualities and esoteric matter. Throbbing Gristle, pioneers of British avant-garde industrial music had used a lightening flash insignia which had been used by many different militaries across the world but because a variation of it had been used by the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s questions were raised in the press about Throbbing Gristles politics. The band themselves adapted it from their look at military insignia and David Bowies flash make-up used during his Ziggy Stardust period (Ford, S, 1999). Joy Division, the post punk band who had taken their name from the concentration camp inmates who were used as prostitutes for the guards of the camps, were also accused of fascist sympathies simply on the strength of their name and the groups on stage 1930s look of trousers, shirts and ties. Theatre of Hate became Spear of Destiny in 1983 also were accused of flirting with fascist imagery because of the myths surrounding the Spear of Destiny and the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s. Laibach the Slovenian industrial band were accused of being fascist for being deliberately ambiguous about their imagery and totalitarian statements about their art. Most of these artists were using these ideas, images, aesthetics and ideas as juxtapositions and collage affects for their artwork to have an impact on a culture that during the 1980s in the UK was beginning to become intellectually and artistically depthless and insipid. Just as critical postmodern thinkers like Jean Baudrillard (Baudrillard, 1983, 1994) were beginning to point out the lack of depth and culturally disembedded nature of symbolic goods and ideas this pocket of music makers were making people think on a scale unexpected by popular cultural standards. The book Tape Delay by Charles Neal (SAF publishing, 1987) brought together interviews, essays, lyrics and commentary on a group of musicians who were operating in fairly diverse musical fields but who shared a commitment to challenging music and lacing that music with references to different ideas. These artists and their audiences produced a cultural milieu that was incredibly rich with discussion, theorizing, literary and philosophical references and crucially critical thinking. Artists such as Cabaret Voltaire, Test Department, Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave, Einsturzende Neubauten, Psychic TV, David Tibet, Diamanda Galas, Swans, Matt Johnson, Mark Almond, Coil, Sonic Youth, Mark Stewart and many more were linked together as a type of intelligent independent music scene (even though some of these artists were on major labels). By Independent here I mean in terms of thought and musical development, these artists often produced music that completely worked outside of what was thought of as `popular music’. The reference points in their work are many and varied and include: William Burroughs (the American beat writer and intellectual), Alfred Jarry (the playwright), Salvidor Dali (the artist), Austin Osman Spare (the artist and occultist), the Marquis De Sade (author), Joseph Conrad (author), Mirbeau (author), Aleister Crowley (the occultist), Hakim Bey (anarchist and author), Ezra Pound (author, poet), The Futurists (art movement), Noam Chomsky (Writer and critic). Various types of paganism, magic, occultism, environmentalism, anarchism, situationism, conservatism, communalism, individualism, socialism are also apparent in their references. What is clear from their work is that the using, abusing, borrowing and knitting together of these various reference points is always done in a unique and thought provoking way.

Peter Webb’s, `Exploring the Networked Worlds of Popular Music: Milieu Cultures’, is published by Routledge. ISBN 0-415-95658-7. For further details see:

It is available from:


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Codex Europa Live Session

At 20.00 (21.00 CET) on 3rd January, Codex Europa will play a live set on Ill FM. The set will feature a selection of Russian and ex-Yugoslav industrial music interspersed with avant-garde composition from the region.