199X: Zomething Different

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written by alex
March 6, 2013 | Category: 199X

Oh man, it’s been over a year now since I wrote one of these 199X pieces. I always mean to (especially with Rexx Arkana raising the bar with his 80sObscurities articles over at Side-Line) but honestly, there’s only so many times you can enter the words “Good Courage” into Google and sift through the scant results for something pertinent and informative. So, let’s make a deal: I’m gonna try and do a few more of these in the upcoming months, focusing mostly on my personal impressions of the artists, along with whatever info I can dig up, and if you like ‘em, let me know and we’ll see if we can’t make it a more regular feature. Sound good? Alright, let’s do it. Put on your Zubaz and pop the top off a refreshing Zima, it’s time for us to visit the year 199X!

It was the 90s, everybody dressed like this.

Spartak, “Fuck the Army”, 1990
Not to be confused with either the Australian free-jazz duo or the Portugese rock combo of the same name, Spartak was the industrial project of Phillipe Alioth, most well known for his synth/italo project Touch El Arab who had a European hit with “Muhammar” in ’87. The group (which was variously made up of Alioth and some dudes name Le Nettoyeur, Sukowa and Merlin, seriously) put out four records between ’90 and ’96, none of which I have heard in their entirety. To be honest, this is the only song of theirs I could pick out of a line-up, partly due to that old (super-uncomfortable) industrial trope the Hitler sample, and it’s inclusion on one of those EBM Club Classics compilations Synthetic Symphony churned out back in the day. Still though, it has that funky early nineties sound that a bunch of euro-industrial acts were picking up from Chicago at the time, and that seems to have come around again in the current day. Per his Discogs entry, Alioth went on to work on albums with Lacrimosa and Carlos from Yello. No clue what else he might have gotten up to, but we’ll always have this cut to remember him by.

Panic on the Titanic, “Voice of God”, 1992
Another relatively obscure act on these shores, the Swiss fellows in Panic on the Titanic are probably more remembered for their cover of Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom”, which is actually pretty cool. Like all their songs, this one from their second LP plays off some orchestral and symphonic elements, charmingly synthesized in the days before you could just download a crack of some sample library for the same effect. Info on them is hella scarce (a perusal of the Internet Wayback Machine indicates that the url www.paniconthetitanic.com has been squatted on by at least three different entities since 1997) but I was able to scare up the fact that the group reformed as Kartagon, and put out an album on Strange Ways in the early part of the millenium. Per their Facebook the duo are working on material for a new album, with Daniel Myer even!

Battery, “Eternal Darkness”, 1993
I almost feel guilty for putting Battery in one of these articles, since my purview has usually been to try to include kind of obscure acts, and there was a time when these kids were kind of a big deal in Our Thing. They were the band on COP International at one point, and while this cut only hints at it, they did some pretty atmospheric and lovely stuff in the mid-to-late part of the decade, due in no small part to vocalist Maria Azevedo who had a voice like a velvet butter churn. I seem to recall reading an issue of Industrialnation that positioned them as the most European (and hence coolest) band in the US due to their rejection of guitars, which was the kind of weird opinion you used to find in that mag all the time, god bless it. Someone should really scan all the newsprint issues of that mag, it’d be a treasure trove.

Construggle Test, “Televitate”, 1997
Released on Celtic Circle off-shoot Khazad-Dûm, Welfare Waste was the only album from Mitch Langeveld to ever see the light of day, although the name Construggle Test has popped up here and there since, usually as a remixer. This is one of those acts that has absolutely zero web presence, and the only thing I can really turn up on them is that Langeveld did some production and programming for Angels & Agony’s 2007 album Unison. I include them here because I always liked this song (which I had on a mixtape I would give anything to get back), the use of breaks on the intro and the super tight sequences paralleling the direction Front Line went on FLAvour of the Weak the same year, albeit with more of an EBM style.

Do you have any info on any of the artists we talked about? Leave me a comment about it!

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