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a view from outside
posted on 10-Feb-2000 by anton
it has been quite interesting to view the music scene as an outsider - the intrigues, the inner workings of labels and musicians relationships, the promotion, the music tours, the trends. not being a musician myself and viewing the music from an aesthetic point of view rather than actively being involved in it creates an interesting point of view. the following article is an attempt to clarify and justify my vision of what is happening and will happen in and around of what used to be called "industrial" scene.
past
1999 turned out to be the year when power electronics and noise movement finally gained recognition in the united states. all those bands that were pushing this music for years suddenly were backed by the newcomers to form the powerful movement that literally took US by storm with noise injection 1999 tour. my top 10 for the year could be found here, and more detailed discussion of year's results is here.
 
one of the biggest trends last year was continuing decay of "industrial" scene. among most obvious factors is the rising of "second" industrial wave. new musicians and bands come to the scene and start playing music that most of their peers and followers perceive as "new" and innovative, while it's just an amateur copying of the "classics" of the genre.
 
the fact that there are so many newcomers that joined the scene that are not familiar with skinny puppy, or early depeche mode, tangerine dream, fla or throbbing gristle, makes the appearance of such bands possible. a lot of people in this second wave do not have "industrial roots" that formed their taste and established their music perception (a fact that seems to piss off quite a few snobbish old-school individualists out there providing material of endless dull discussions).
 
at the same time a lot of oldies, the people that used to be in the scene, migrate to different music genres either disillusioned by the often adolescent nature of so-called musicians fighting on rmi and intriguing at the clubs or the beginners that do not bring anything new to the scene.
 
trends
the scene is not sustaining the new influences. while some bands are creatively accepting them, the ideology and spirit is lost, the momentum is gone and there is nothing to replace that. the trends are quite obvious - the people that used to be in the scene for a long enough time slowly migrate to different genres - vac's fascination with goa and trance, apoptygma berzerk going techno together with haujobb and its drum'n'bass advances. at the same time noise and ambient are coming out to the spotlight, stronger than ever.
 
current strong synth-pop scene is mostly a come-back to the roots for those that never had them - an adaptation of classics of the genre for the modern listener. melting together easily acceptable light poppy styles with remnants of industrial scene seems to drive up sales and gather crowds at the clubs. after all, the strength of this music is in numbers of its followers.
 
at the same time synth-pop is the next step for the people that used to be in the scene for long enough and cannot tolerate the aggression and "undergroundness" of the music anymore. they still remain close to the scene listening to more "conventional" and user-friendly music.
 
strangely enough, power noise seems to be perceived by many as the next logical step for the scene. all those small communities that have been writing this music for years suddenly came into the spotlight creating the illusion that this music is brand new and unheard of, overlooking the fact that throbbing gristle, lustmord, dive, cmi, ant-zen, tesco have been around for a years producing the music that now serves as a basis for modern generation of power electronics and noise.
 
future
both trends mentioned above will dominate the minds of the masses next year. hymen seems to be the best example - the label that took the best from the old noise and industrial influences, combined those with the best of the current electro/technoid scene and established its presence with the line of strong releases that are quite acceptable for general audience. hands, megahertz, ant-zen and, recently, pbr seem to follow this lead.
 
power noise movement will progress, the outside influences will become more apparent as the time passes and old roots get forgotten - more trance, drum'n'bass, techno influences will get incorporated in the music.
 
beefcake seems to be the project that best represent the "spirit of the times". mutilating old-school industrial icons like haujobb, and adding modern drum'n'bass elements to create a perfect mixture of harsh, intelligent technoid sound.
 
dark ambient, unstructured tesco-like sound assaults and japanese noise will not be nearly as popular. hopefully, united states will finally develop stronger rhythm-n-noise acts that will replace weak and primitive offspring that dominates the american scene now.
 
more and more former industrial/electro projects are feeling the changes and start to experiment. the best illustration is "converter", an offspring of scott sturgis responsible for ebm/electro act "pain station". converter proved that it takes a lot of effort, musical experience and talent to write good structured power noise, the fact that has been overlooked by countless beginners. in the nearest future a new wave of musicians will be shifting gears and moving from old-school ebm to more dense and abrasive music.
 
synth-pop scene will be a passing stage for many serving as a springboard that will open the new genres. just like with majority of pop music, most of it will be forgotten quickly. but truly independent and strong acts will take their places together with de/vision and and one. a different drum, a us-based label, made an impressive progress becoming one of the major sources of fresh synth-pop that quickly revitalizes this genre.
 
"seven" will try to cover the most broad range of genres, focusing on lesser-known acts. after all, we are constantly searching for everything new and interesting, trying to be as open-minded as possible. follow us, support us, inform us.

 
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