Hey, welcome back friends! It’s time for us to visit the year 199X, a magical time when all manner of amazing Industrial music was being made on both sides of the Atlantic, and the best way to find out about new bands (if you didn’t live in a town where there was a good club night going) was to order at random from a label you liked and hope for the best. Whenever I sit down to write one of these posts I always get stuck on an act I want to write about but can’t, mostly because I can’t find an example of their work online to accompany it. For example, I really wanted to write something about Fourth Man, the solo-project of latter era Numb singer David Collings, but there ain’t a lick of his stuff online, like anywhere, and I never owned the CD myself. Hard as it is to imagine, I guess some things are beyond even the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-remembering eye of the internet. This column normally tends to concentrate on Coldwave stuff, but I went down a Youtube k-hole of early 90s EBM and Electro-Industrial recently and hell, that stuff deserves some shine on here too. Y’all ready? 199X is back!
Digital Poodle, “Work Station” 1992
Ontario’s own Digital Poodle! When I was doing college radio and had a 33% Canadian Content requirement, Digital Poodle (and some associated acts like Parade and DIN) were what saved me from having to play an FLA or Puppy song on every show. This video is pretty fly for a totally budget production, I think I remember actually seeing it on TV (as opposed to on one of those crummy Cleopatra VHS video compilations) back when City Limits was still a thing. According to friends of mine who were clubbing in Toronto around this time the band also had a pretty good live show.
Electro Assassin, “Terminal Choice” 1993
Ah, Electro Assassin. These English fellas were well ahead of their time with their mix of Puppy sounding post-industrial and EBM, territory a lot of bands on both sides of the pond would explore for a few years afterwards. This is from their ’93 album Bio Culture, which was released on Metropolis stateside a few years later. I guess they got a different vocalist and put out a third record on Synthetic Symphony that same year, but I’ve never heard it and to the best of my knowledge (and a cursory search of the web), neither of the founding members are doing anything currently. I might be crazy, but now that I’m listening to this, it kind of sounds like Stromkern, at least in the vocal delivery.
Kode IV, “Accelerate” 1992
Kode IV were doing the techno-industrial thing way back in like 1990, decades before the current crop of bands like Noisuf-X and [X]-RX who are messing with those same ideas came along. When member Hans Schiller died in ’94, surviving founder Peter Ziegelmeier ended up taking the group into full-on goa trance, which is probably what the name is most associated with in 2011. The guitar and vocal sample work on this track still sound dope to me. I remember the first time I heard it in the club in like ’99 when my homeboy John MacMaster played it, the use of the THX noise grabbed err’ybody on the dancefloor’s attention.
Benestrophe, “Pig Butcher” 1994
Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat, since technically the material that RAS DVA released as the two Benestrophe albums Sensory Deprivation and Auric Fires was actually demos the Dassing boys recorded in 88-89 with vocalist Rich Mendez before they formed Mentallo & the Fixer. My distaste for a lot of M&F’s work is no secret, as I find a lot of it self-indulgent and wanky, but the Benestrophe stuff , especially on Sensory Deprivation has a very creepy feel to it that I like a lot. I don’t recall, did the Mainesthai record kind of sound like this also, or is that my bad memory? Oh, and also did you know you can download both Benestrophe albums free from RAS DVA’s website? There Bruce, I said something nice about Dwayne and Gary’s work, you can quit bugging me now.
Zero Defects, “Duracell” 1994
Writing about Benestrophe made me think of RAS DVA, which in turn made me think of the pioneering 4 cd There is No Time compilation, which was my first exposure to artists like Dive, Suicide Commando and Project Pitchfork. The one song I always associate with it though is “Duracell”, mostly because not unlike the use of the THX sound effect in “Accelerate”, I was really into the use of a sound designed for commercial purposes use getting co-opted by a club song. “Duracell” actually goes one better by having lyrics about “long life” and how you shouldn’t “let the energy run down”. As conceits go, basing your EBM song on a brand of battery is a little silly in retrospect, but I still think this song sounds pretty cool. I guess that once Zoth Ommog collapsed the guys from Zero Defects went on to produce some techno and trance stuff, but this is certainly what they’re most remembered for. You know, I haven’t mentioned it before, but god bless Infacted for their Classix series, which has reissued this amongst other EPs from the same era for a budget price. They’re doing the lord’s work, assuming the lord is a fan of semi-obscure early 90s EBM.