Words: Richard Clouston
In 1975, Genesis P. Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson formed the group Throbbing Gristle and their own company, Industrial Records. The resulting work is some of the most vital and influential art and music ever made.
Together with protagonists such as Cabaret Voltaire, NON, Monte Cazzaza and SPK, TG created an energizing nexus of emancipation, confrontation and passion. The term “industrial” was adopted to embrace a wide range of experimental, predominantly electronic music. From this came the specifically dance-oriented Electronic Body Music. A brave and exotic sound, ranging from high-octane pop to raw, minimal beats, EBM is characterized by its stark, sexual aesthetic.
What follows is a selection of some of the industrial and EBM records I love.
This article was originally published in FACT:13, 2006
01: THROBBING GRISTLE
(FETISH RECORDS, 1981)
A defining release, with two recordings of TG performing live in Manchester and Berlin, this immense, visceral and relentless record goes some way to capturing the originators at the height of their magick. TG also did an amazing version of ‘Discipline’ at the Astoria in 2004, which can be seen on DVD.
02: NITZER EBB
(POWER OF VOICE COMMUNICATIONS, 1985)
The ‘Ebb released this as a second single on their own label: a totally physical and severe dance record, with a brilliant vocal performance by Douglas McCarthy. Sheer genius.
03: PARADE GROUND
(PLAY IT AGAIN SAM, 1987)
Mind-blowing euphoric pop made by two brothers from Brussels, with good lyrics about dying in a plane crash. Big dance track at my club, this makes your spine tingle. In a better world, it would’ve been an international #1.
04: DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT
Biba Kopf wrote of DAF: “The beating heart pumps out pulses through the electronic circuits of the sex machine”, and indeed the best work of EBM innovators Robert Gorl and Gabi Delgado produces a strange kinda edge-of-orgasm sensation.
05: CAROL & SNOWY RED
(DIRTY DANCE RECORDS, 1982)
EBM pioneer Snow Red (aka Micky Mike) and the mysterious Carol made this melancholy and incredibly beautiful song. It eventually became a duet on Snowy’s Vision LP, but it’s this original and extremely rare seven-inch version that you need to own. The drum programming sounds like King Tubby, the synths like Joe Meek’s Telstar. One of my favourite records ever.