Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Statement by Peter Webb of I.C.R.N. on Neofolk

Following some recent hostile commentary on his work on Neofolk, Peter Webb has asked us to publish the following statement. It is possible that both parties may be somewhat over-stating the ideological/conformist power of the scene - certainly some insidious ideas are being re-circulated, but it's unclear how many political converts such groups win in this way. From (somewhat distant) and anecdotal observations of the scene, we have the impression that listeners are tiring of by-numbers Neofolk accompanied by rightist references and that the movement may have passed its peak. It's also worth remembering that now Neofolk is a codified 'style', some producers probably make such references as an act of aesthetic rather than ideological conformity. Constant banal propaganda can sometimes have the opposite effect to that intended by its creators. Nevertheless, there are important and legitimate questions to be considered here...

Statement on Neo-folk and Post-industrial music in response to Whomakesthenazis.com and a.n.other `commentator’!

I have been alerted to the contents of this blog www.whomakesthenazis.com and one other website and feel that I have to respond to the criticism and confusion that seems to link my work to some kind of support or covert agreement with some of the ideas that are discussed here in the Fascist, Conservative Revolutionary or Traditionalist sphere. I firstly want to make clear that my work in `Exploring the Networked Worlds of Popular Music’ (2007) is partial and a discussion and description of some element of the Neo Folk/post-industrial music scene in amongst chapters on hip-hop, Bristol’s music culture, the Independent music production of Crass and a variety of house music labels and musicians dealing with each other, writing credits and the wider music industry. Therefore it is not exhaustive or comprehensive and does not fulfill the remit of discussing the ideological/political implications of this scene (Webb, p105) in much detail, this is something I had always intended to fulfill in other pieces of work. Sites like whomakesthenazis.com are one set of views on the political implications of this scene and whilst I feel my work and reputation are being crudely represented within them they do have a place in presenting information on this scene. My position politically is one of opposition to many of the political/ideological elements of this scene and below I present some comments on that.

Christopher Browning in his book `Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland’ (1992) describes the events that led to the deaths and deportations of tens of thousands of Jews from Poland in 1942. The focus of the book is on the German order police (Ordnungspolizei), battalions of drafted middle-aged reservists who couldn’t fight on the frontline and who were used to police Polish cities and also to round up and kill Jews en masse. This group who had no particular affiliation with Nazism (but had nationalist ideas) were attached to units led by SS men. The executions were carried out by large groups of officers, mainly by shooting their Jewish victims one by one in the neck after they had been forced to lie down in forest areas used for the killings. Browning tries to examine how this group of men who came from ordinary backgrounds and jobs had been turned into mass executioners able to kill tens of thousand of Jews in cold blood day after day whilst in Poland. His explanation suggests that a combination of Nazi Ideology, peer pressure, the situation of the war (even though these individuals had not experienced any fighting before their part in the killings), conformity and indoctrination were responsible. Only a minority refused to take part in the acts and as they developed they became routine and were even joked about. The point of Browning’s book, if we accept its thesis, is that ordinary men and women can become detached killers and brutal racists through a mixture of ideological leadership (in this case from those who had gone through SS training) and the power of group conformity. The reason I discuss this is that, like Stanley Milgram’s obedience and authority experiments or Phillip Zimbardo’s Prison experiment, Browning alerts us to the importance of group dynamics and conformity or obedience to a dominant set of ideas or norms that are pushed to the foreground in a group (either politically, socially or culturally) and often followed uncritically and obediently by the majority of the social group involved.

Browning’s work is useful here as it gives an insight into how strong ideological elements within a social grouping can heavily influence the way that grouping continues to act and think. Even though there is clearly no direct comparison to the events that Browning describes and a small music scene (Neo Folk/ post industrial), the idea of dominant figures in a social situation gaining people’s obedience and shaping their actions through ideological hegemony is important for this discussion. Both situations, do however, contain ideological positions that foreground elitism and disgust, demonization and contempt for an `other’ group (e.g. Jews, gypsies, the ignorant mass population). The chapter I wrote describes elements of this milieu as accounted for by some of its members and through some of my engagement with it over a number of years; it focused particularly on the three musicians of the band Death In June and their various musical projects since two of them (Tony Wakeford and Patrick Leagas) left and Douglas Pearce continued the project to the present day. The chapter does not delve consistently into the various ideological elements of the scene and I suggested that it was beyond the remit of this particular piece of work as I think it would require a book or series of articles in their own right to really discuss the full extent of the ideologies that are referenced by this milieu. That said however it is an omission that needs rectifying. I wish to state clearly that within the milieu there is a clear timeline that runs from the incarnation of Death In June through to the current output of bands like Von Thronstahl, Alerseelen, Orplid, Blood Axis etc that leads its audience to look at thinkers from the three ideological and philosophical areas previously mentioned i.e. Fascism, Revolutionary Conservatism and Traditionalism. The artists themselves have clearly explored and would subscribe in some cases to elements of the worldview of Julius Evola, Savitri Devi, Ernst Junger, Moeller Van Den Bruck, Armin Mohler, Oswald Spengler, Rene Guenon, Francis Parker Yockey, The Strasser brothers and particularly in the present configuration of the milieu, the European New Right and the work of Alain De Benoist and associated thinkers around him.

Douglas Pearce stated in an interview with Zillo magazine (late 1992) that:

“At the start of the eighties Tony and I were involved in radical left politics and beneath it history students. In search of a political view for the future we came across National Bolshevism, which is closely connected to the SA hierarchy. People like Gregor Strasser and Ernst Rohm who were later known as `second revolutionaries, attracted our attention” (Forbes, p.15)

He has not discussed this topic in great detail again, never wishing to publicly account for his political or ideological position, but it is prophetic and telling in its indication of ideas that are still referenced and linked to by leading artists and fans of these bands and some of the various webzines and magazines that have given space to them (e.g Heathen Harvest, Occidental Congress etc). It also seems clear that these were the ideas that DIJ were engaging with around the period of 1981 – 1984 when Tony Wakeford was a member of the National Front and part of the group who were being referred to as Strasserites and Third Positionists. The milieu of neo-folk is littered with references to these thinkers, to the political project of the New Right and the third positionists that came out of the fracture of the (UK) National Front in the early 1980s. DIJ, in name, referenced the `night of the long knives’ and the culling of the leadership of the SA and also in the dates put on the first two releases: SA 29 6 34 and SA 30 6 34, Tony Wakeford’s post DIJ band Above the Ruins were a direct reference to Evola and contained lyrics that echoed the third positionist direction of the NF, the title of the first Sol Invictus album was `Against the Modern World’ a reference to Evola’s work `Revolt against the Modern World’ (1996), Current 93 referenced Francis Parker Yockey’s `Imperium’ (1969) work on the album of the same name in 1987 and Savitri Devi on the album `Thunder Perfect Mind’ (1992). As the scene develops many bands reference and provide links to this range of thinkers maybe most clearly in the compilations Cavalcare El Tigre (Eis Und Licht, 1998 a reference to Evola’s work of the same name) featuring Von Thronsthal, Alerseelen, Orplid, Blood Axis, Waldteufel, Camerata Mediolanense and Ain Soph amongst others and more recently the Von Thronstahl album `Sacrificare’ which alerts readers of the CD liner notes to look at the work of Moeller Van Den Bruck and Joseph-Marie Comte De Maestre, one of the founders of a European Conservatism that put its trust in emotional allegiance to an unquestioned authority; usually a form of hereditary monarchy.

From Boyd Rice’s continuous references to Ragnar Redbeard’s Social Darwinist `Might is Right’ text and his appearance on Tom Metzger’s Race and Reason Cable TV show (where he discusses White Nationalist/power music mentioning DIJ, C93 and Above the Ruins) to Tesco distribution (neo folk and Marital Industrial distributer selling books such as De Benoist’s `On being a Pagan’, John Michell’s `Confessions of a Radical Traditionalist’ and the Evola inspired `Handbook for Traditional Living’ published by Artkos (who also publish work by Troy Southgate the National Anarchist/3rd Positionist and racial separatist), through to Michael Moynihan’s publishing of `Siege’ (1992), the work of James Mason the American National Socialist Mansonite, there are continuous and clear signposts to writing and work in the fascist, traditionalist and conservative revolutionary tradition. There are many other examples of this tendency within this scene and to clearly outline and discuss these specific elements of this milieu would need a fairly exhaustive work, which, I am sure, will be produced by many different writers and commentators. I am currently finishing a piece that deals with some of these elements but my intention here is to state clearly that I have no political, ideological or philosophical sympathy with any of the ideas of Fascism, traditionalism or conservative revolutionary thought. My interest in this milieu stems from my own immersion and interest in anarchist punk, post-punk, gothic music and various dance music scenes that provided clear links to sets of ideas, artistic practice, political activism and lifestyles – my own politics has come partly out of these types of engagement and could be described as a type of humanism derived from a combination of post Marxism, anarchism and libertarian thought but clearly driven by non-elitist, democratic and egalitarian principles all of which are clearly totally oppositional to the ideas presented by some of the key members of this musical milieu and in fact openly despised by some of them.

The reason for starting this piece with reference to Browning’s work is that although the neo-folk and post-industrial milieu is inhabited by a variety of different political, philosophical, spiritual and lifestyle ideas, practices and supporters there is a clearly significant and dominant use of the ideas of some of the most elitist, racist, conservative and traditionalist thinkers from the 19th, 20th and now 21st centuries, those ideas can lead to and provide a strong conformist group dynamic. Some people will be drawn to these ideas through their engagement with this milieu and some will take these ideas forward to develop a type of political engagement. I would hope that further discussion of these ideas and illumination of their potential social and cultural impact will break many individuals from that engagement and get them to look to develop their own work with a different set of reference points. So even though I think that this blog has taken my work completely out of context in terms of what it suggests should have been the focus of my chapter and contains some fairly crude slurs on my reputation I would suggest that `some’ of the material here is useful. Whether individuals in this milieu are active politically or not, the main point here is that the use of these thinkers in the forefront of the reference points used by the main bands as they have developed over the years leads to the creation of a group dynamic and conformity to this type of thinking amongst a significant section of the audience and new bands that emerge. This element of the milieu is one that I feel is highly problematic and one that needs opposing critically within the scene as well as from outside.

Peter Webb – October 2010

Bibliographic references:

Evola, Julius (1996) Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion and Social Order in the Kali Yuga. Inner Traditions Bear and Company

Evola, Julius (2002) Men among the ruins: Post-war reflections of a radical traditionalist. Inner Traditions Bear and Company

Spengler, Oswald. (2007) Decline of the West. Open University Press

Silfen, Paul Harrison (1973) The Volkisch ideology and the roots of Nazism; The early writings of Arthur Moeller van den Bruck. Exposition.

De Benoist, Alain. (2004) On Being a Pagan. Ultra Press.

Southgate, Tory. (2010) Tradition & Revolution: Collected Writings of Troy Southgate. Arktos Press.

Devi, Savitri (2000) The Lightning and the Sun. Lulu.com

Goddrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2000) Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth and Neo-Nazism. New York University Press

Browning, Christopher (1992) Ordinary Men : Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, New York : HarperCollins

Yockey, Francis Parker (1969) Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics. Noontide Press

Forbes, Robert (1995) Death In June: Misery and Purity. Jara Press

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Article on Crash Worship by Alexander Nym

Here's a link to a recent article by I.C.R.N. member Alexander Nym on the American project industrial/aktionist project Crash Worship, which featured Markus Wolff of the neofolk project WALDTEUFEL. Read it here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

THE RED DISTRICT SYMPOSIUM (Past Perfect – Future Tense)

Trbovlje, S.F.R.J., 1979.

I.C.R.N. members Alexei Monroe and Peter Webb will be present at this symposium exploring the past, present and future of Laibach, Neue Slowenische Kunst and the NSK State. The event is co-organised by Alexei Monroe and Naomi Hennig in collaboration with Delavski Dom Trbovlje. Dr. Webb will be part of a panel session on the 24th discussing key Laibach actions. The symposium is FREE and will include presentations by some of the key experts on the subject, including Laibach's former manager Igor Vidmar. Further information on the symposium and associated concerts and exhibitions can be found here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Heinrich Deisl - Cultural Noise Noise as a musical metaphor for contemporary aesthetics in popular culture.

I.C.R.N. presents a recent lecture text by our Vienna representative Heinrich Deisl...

Cultural Noise

Noise as a musical metaphor for contemporary aesthetics in popular culture.
Exemplified by the Works of Throbbing Gristle

Zachęta National Art Gallery, Warsaw (PL), 12/5/2010


Heinrich Deisl

In this lecture I want to present a framework of how to cope with Noise as one of the most prominent, still widely neglected academically phenomena in contemporary music and popular culture. In doing so, I decided to discuss Throbbing Gristle.

The London-based group Throbbing Gristle (TG) originally existed from 1976 to 1981, comprising the two conceptual art performers Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti and the two electronic musicians Chris Carter and Peter Christopherson. One of their friends, Monte Cazazza, had coined the slogan “Industrial Music for Industrial people”, a slogan that later constituted an entire genre of music. In 2005, TG decided to return to the stage and since then, they have gained massive attention, especially in the art world. The last years have seen some publications on the Industrial genre, amongst others Simon Ford’s book “Wreckers on Civilisation” (2001), which is one of the most coherent on the topic.

I will use the artistic interventions of Throbbing Gristle as a reference point for some general thoughts on Noise music. I see industrial as one development of Noise music and as a prominent aspect within late 20th. century avant-garde music.

My lecture is divided in three parts:

1)An introduction to theoretical discourses and a brief abstract of the historical framework of Noise music
2)The history of TG
3)The “practical” side of it: A sound-lecture would be nothing without images, music or films.

I want to begin the theoretical part by arguing the following:
Noise can be considered as the maximum compression of information within a certain framework of space and time. If we consider music in the light of the Futurist Luigi Russolo and of John Cage, music no longer has to be a canonized system of notes but can be understood as a structure of organized audio phenomena. It’s the same argument posited with Marcel Duchamp's Readymades: everything then becomes a sonic quantum. The result is a radical democratisation of sounds in comparison to music.

As the French scholar Jacques Attali has put it in his ground-breaking essay “Noise: The Political Economy of Music” from 1985: Noise lets us hear the audio-signals of the future, as we, the listeners, have not yet arrived at an adequate system of references to decipher these audio-signals as a new semiotic gesture. He argues that “the noises of a society are in advance of its images and material conflicts” (11) and continues: “It is necessary to imagine radically new theoretical forms in order to speak of new realities. Music, the organisation of noise, is one such form. It reflects the manufacture of society; it constitutes the audible waveband of the vibrations and signs that make up society. With noise is born disorder and its opposite: the world. With music is born power and its opposite: subversion”. (6)

The English scholar Paul Hegarty adds in his book “Noise/music”(2007): “Noise is an excess, is thought of as being too much, and for human hearing, this occurs almost entirely through cultural perceptions, and individual reactions within that framework.” (4)

Noise music is not a sonic disturbance but a strategy to make political and socio-economic structures audible. Noise isn’t necessarily “loud”; but it is much more fun to use the whole body as a target-field for sonic assaults.

Some further biographical notes on TG now: Developing from the performance group COUM Transmissions, which had been founded by P-Orridge and Tutti in 1969, Throbbing Gristle released only five official albums on their label Industrial Records plus some extra records like the soundtrack for the film “In The Shadow Of The Sun” by Derek Jarman. Apart from a massive corpus of live cassettes, the label released the output of bands like SPK, Cabaret Voltaire or William Burroughs.

Most prominently known for their bruitistic sound experiments and deviant iconography, they also released some fine, Giorgio-Moroder-like Roboter-Disco-tracks like “Adrenalin” or “Hot on the Heels of Love” from 1978. They became one of the most cited underground bands and inspired legions of other bands, ranging from Einstürzende Neubauten to Nine Inch Nails, Pan Sonic or the Polish avant-garde band Za Siódmą Górą. If you search in Google, TG produces more than 350.000 hits.

In 1975 Lou Reed released his ground-breaking noise-record “Metal Machine Music”, two years later TG came up with their vinyl debut “2nd Annual Report”. In 1980, the Australian band SPK released “Information Overload Unit”, another pioneering Industrial LP and again five years later Attali’s book “Noise” was published in English.

In “Industrial Culture”, from 1983, one of the most essential books on the topic, music journalist Jon Savage outlines five characteristics of early Industrial music:

1) organizational autonomy,
2) access to information,
3) use of synthesizers and anti-music,
4) extra musical elements,
5) shock tactics.

P-Orridge told Savage in an interview from that period:

“We’re interested in information, we’re not interested in music as such. And we believe that the whole battlefield, if there is one in the human situation, is about information. We’re interested in taboos, what the boundaries are, where sound became noise and where noise became music and where entertainment became pain and where pain became entertainment. All contradictions of culture”.

That’s why their quite ambivalent album “Greatest” features the sub-headline “Entertainment through pain” on its cover and why in its images the album quotes the American Easy-Listening-/ Exotica-composer Martin Denny.

In 1949, the American mathematician Claude Shannon developed an Information-Communication model, in which Noise is that part of information which doesn’t contain concrete content and thus is diffuse and redundant. If we stay with this definition, Noise can be compared to the interval, defined by Gilles Deleuze. The interval in this sense is the place where “nothing” happens, the “place in-between”. It is not necessarily the beat that defines musical genres, but the time in between the beats; what in Dub music is called “space”. Through a reverse thought, the interval becomes exactly the place of Noise because it is here that all the information is stored, it opens the sonic text to the future, to the next note or the next break. The musical creation out of Noise, out of the interval, is nothing other than what Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek – referring to Lacan – calls “the creation out of nothingness”. Noise constantly produces its own simulacrum through its affirmation of “nothingness” and its rejection of “traditional western values” like rhythm, melody and cadence. Out of its compression of time and space, it generates an information overload unit, an excessive “too much”. Noise is the accompanying soundtrack of the desert of (Lacan’s) Real.

In the last one hundred years, numerous artistic articulations have dealt with the phenomenon of how to “audio-picture” modern life’s necessities in an industrialized environment and revealed repetition as its paradigmatic sonic score. Futurism and Constructivism can be considered as crucial innovations due to the way in which they broadened the sound spectrum with “non-musical” elements like the noises of cars, airplanes, factories and other acoustic manifestations, trying to “audio-picture” the surrounding social noise; Or, what Russian film director Dziga Vertov, in his famous “Kino-Glaz” theory from 1925, had termed “life-facts”. In the middle and late 70s, industrial musicians executed these “life-facts” by reflecting the social grievances and conservative bureaucracies in societies with strong social and hierarchical divides. Industrial musicians would break with musical traditions, mainly understood as an appropriation of self-definition of music and of self-empowerment.

Yet was this also not the case with for example. the “Viennese school” of Schoenberg or Webern, or with Edgar Varèse and Penderecki? This line of reference can be traced back to “Le Sacre du printemps” by Igor Stravinsky (1913) or Eric Satie’s “Parade” (1917), to John Cage, Stockhausen, Tony Conrad and numerous others, nowadays mostly present in works of notorious Noise artists like Merzbow from Japan, The Haters from Canada or Whitehouse from Great Britain. The striking difference to the previously mentioned compositions is that practically all industrial musicians were auto-didactic composers who didn’t want to make music as such – let’s remember the quote of P-Orridge in the beginning.

By discussing Industrial as one occurrence of Noise music, I want to refer to topics like “control”, “power”, “the body” and “production”. Industrial owed much to the “Do it yourself”-approach of Punk and Fluxus. Thinking of COUM, the Viennese Aktionism in the mid-60s also can be named as one of the paradigmatic interdisciplinary artistic articulations – which is putting the body in question and occupying it as a symbolic battlefield. The Aktionism-inspired, but already diluted body-politics of Punk were absorbed by Industrial, highlighting the concepts of the “Materialaktionen” – as a loss of control and power over one’s own body.

As in Aktionism, we have to think of industrial as a genre that identified “the” industry as a synonym for conservatism, an industry that used mass-produced and fascistic strategies for surveillance and suppression. It seems emblematic that industrial provoked deviant aesthetics, as it produced semiotic disturbances through cut-ups of the media, inspired by the notorious Beat-poet William S. Burroughs. Materials were removed from their restricted economy of usefulness. Or, to put it metaphorically, the sense of a user’s manual of a synthesizer was not to read it but to make a cut-up out of it using scissors and glue.

The fascination with machines opened up a field of discourse that is most significantly exemplified by a line of reference from Fritz Lang's film “Metropolis” (1926) to the band Kraftwerk and then to Techno. The mechanisation of production had caused a major loss of the auratic moment of the piece of art. Bearing in mind Walter Benjamin's text “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936) but at the same time that the possibility of mechanized reproduction would extinguish the bourgeois idea of the artist as a genius, which meant a democratisation of facilities, knowledge and acquirement.

The dependence on the mercy of prototypical machines dislocated the artists’ settings of control outside of them. This conscious loss of control was practised as a response to the feelings of social repression within a society of control, as outlined by Foucault’s concept of “Discipline and Punish”. That’s why many Noise artists offer a vast catalogue of live recordings and integrate the affirmation of the atavistic and the primitive. Finally, autonomous label structures guaranteed an output that would blow away Adorno’s theories of the “culture industry”.

In no other country than England, the native land of the industrial revolution, would the evolution of Industrial music have made more sense. P-Orridge once said that they wanted to transfer the music of the time of slavery, Blues and the whole tradition of rock music, to the industrial era. In that respect, the change from guitar to synthesizer bore a political connotation as well.

What brought TG the freedom to record tracks like “Zyklon B Zombie”, to name one of their manifestos “Freedom is a sickness” or their studio “The Death Factory”, to use a picture of the Auschwitz crematorium for their label logo and to use a lightning flash for their band-logo that resembles both the the sign for high voltage but also the SS-rune? As a first answer, TG liked to refer to the aphorism of the Spanish philosopher Georges Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Music critic Brian Duguid wrote in 1995: “Throwing the establishment’s own excrements back into the throat is sure to result in a nauseous reaction. For groups intending on outraging society, fascism was a powerful weapon. With methods you had for doing so were those that the authorities had themselves taught you.”

In the times between the decay of Punk and the foreshadowing of the English neo-conservatism known as Thatcherism –, TG's sonic warfare formed one of the first indications of the arrival of the media- and information-society.

TG’s attacks on established modes of listening drew its most powerful legitimation from the parent generation’s coming to terms with the past and from Punk: both were considered on the one hand to be too much programmed in the direction of de-escalation and on the other hand too much occupied with a pseudo-rehabilitation of the past. They used Fascist semiotics to fight the politics of historical exclusion and its culture of silencing it. Or, metaphorically speaking: TG sought to destroy that freedom which had been cynically promised by the Nazis to around one million people, when passing the gates of the concentration camp in Auschwitz which bore the slogan “Arbeit macht frei” (“work will set you free”). This perverseness of freedom could only be wiped out by perverting it. In their artistic expressions, TG synchronized economic concepts like Fordism, exemplified by the assembly-line which was felt to be inhuman, with the factory-like killing machines of the Third Reich. Their noise of factories was the noise of decaying factories, of a society in decomposition. Their 1980 single “Zyklon B Zombie” sold more than 20.000 copies and became one of the “hit”-tracks of the band. Listen closely to the noises at the end of the track which are a sample from a train that arrives at a concentration camp.

Following this, I will show you an excerpt of the video “Discipline”. “Discipline” was a kind of blueprint in the output of TG and typical for their inversion of the inversion. Released in 1981 as a 12” single, the band, standing in front of the former ministry of propaganda in Berlin and wearing self-designed camouflage uniforms, proclaimed: “We need some discipline in here!”. The dry lyrics are overlaid by a massive, ear-piercing noise, however the beats make “Discipline” quite danceable. Consequently, these quasi-dictatorial agitations were barked during live shows in Berlin, which was so to speak the former centre of evil and in Manchester, a centre of the industrial revolution. TG confronted themselves and the audience with a harsh exorcism of the industrial revolution. From this catharsis, there was no way back. As a consequence, they declared shortly after “The mission is terminated”.

To end my lecture, I want to return to some more general thoughts on Noise and on Industrial. Industrial dealt with established taboos by breaking them, their brutal sounds and images merged into transgression. But this transgression in the sense of the French writer George Bataille can’t last for long, as it would become just another boring permanence of the norm itself. Bataille wrote in “Eroticism” (1957) that “transgression suspends a taboo without suppressing it”. From that we can say that for transgression the need for taboos is essential. There can’t be any doubt that TG’s use of Fascist signs arose from an anti-fascist ideology. But way too many people saw in TG only the “wreckers of civilisation” and TG’s martial and national-socialist iconography would open the field for many stupid followers who did not take into account their cynical and even funny tactics of social confusion. Think again of the reference to Martin Denny in TG’s “Greatest Hits” or the picture of Chris Carter on the album “Heathen Earth” (1980), wearing on his shirt a sticker of the Swedish super-pop-group ABBA.

Most of what I have exemplified so far draws its parameters from an analogue age. The digital version of this, to move from the industrial revolution to the revolution of information and its rhizomatic, de-centralized networks of gathering and storing information, is still to come. Nowadays, if you want to produce a contemporary sound-work, you no longer have to compete with the sounds of factories but with those of urban traffic in mega cities, of earthquake simulators, tankships, super-fast computer networks, transatlantic airplanes or sound weapons and cyber organics.

Still, there is no serious debate about how to handle Noise if the sound-tools and its aesthetics are available in every supermarket around the corner; Which means that Noise, the “sound of nothingness”, has become omnipresent.

Noise makes audible the fragile order of chaos, but what to do in a social framework that seems to be obsessed by a paradoxical symptom of total freedom that just looks like the reverse side of the coin called control? Noise music offers a good example of how to overcome repression – but how to cope with Noise if is no longer an exception but a permanent state of existence?

Further reading:

Attali, Jacques (1985): Noise. The Political Economy of Music. Theory and history of literature, Vol. 16, Manchester University Press.
Duguid, Brian (1995): The Unacceptable Face of Freedom. http://media.hyperreal.org/zines/est/articles/freedom.html
Ford, Simon (2001): Wreckers of Civilisation. The Story of COUM Transmissions& Throbbing Gristle. Black Dog Publishing.
Hegarty, Paul (2007): Noise/music. A History. Continuum.
Re/Search Publications (1983): Industrial Culture Handbook. Re/Search, San Francisco. http://researchpubs.com

Throbbing Gristle: www.throbbing-gristle.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

Talk at Schillerndes Dunkel book launch, Leipzig May 23rd

I.C.R.N. founder Alexei Monroe will give a short talk at this event taking place in the courtyard of Absintherie Sixtina, Leipzig from 11.00. The talk will discuss industrial's relationship to other "dark scenes", on the occasion of the launch of this new German publication edited by I.C.R.N. member Alexander Nym:


Monroe has two texts in this major collection, one on Gerechtigkeits Liga and one on Laibach, both appearing in German for the first time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Klub V.E.B. V at The Grosvenor, 14.05.2010

Klub V.E.B. presents its first live action of 2010 featuring:

Eva 3 feat. Riotmiloo
Jose Macabra
Sz. Berlin

Plus Industrial, EBM, Power Electronics, Dark Ambient, Dystopian electro, techno and other ailing frequencies from DJs Codex Europa, Kriegslok and Floressas

3 pounds before 10, 5 after.