When Genesis P-Orridge and his band Throbbing Gristle founded Industrial records back in ’76, their aim was to create an alternative to mainstream rock by standing against the cultural hegemony of the music industry. Doing so, they opened a way for the 80s underground, fanzines, and creative independence.

Writer Michaël Iannetta

© La villa hermosa

© La villa hermosa

Annoyed by clichéd punk imagery, they forged their own mythology by manipulating the language of pop culture. Launching new marketing strategies and parallel networks, they re- interpreted the crowd-pleasing codes of rock imagery through suggestive performances and epic concerts, whose sole purpose was to disarm the audience. Bands like Einstürzende Neubauten shared the same vision: non-entertainment motivated music, aimed at deconditioning the social restraints weighing on the body and mind. To them, music is not much more than organised sound. To produce it, anything goes: pneumatic drills, electric saws, broken glasses… Taking all machine-made noise in a context of industrial decline and throwing it back into feedbacks, statics, sonic accidents, not as a means – but as an end. Music to some ears, appalling racket to others. Tempo, rhythm, instrumentations, tonal mass, ascending curves, the primary interest for all those bands was to create metabolic music, transposing William Burroughs’s cut up techniques with tape and sound. What their boundaries were? Where sound became noise, where noise became music, where entertainment became pain, and where pain became entertainment. A fine line, and one that embodied all the contradictions of modern culture.

Throbbing Gristle live in San Fransisco, 1981

Throbbing Gristle perform Persuasion in London, 2004


Throbbing Gristle interview, 2009

Einstürzende Neubauten set fire to a stage in Oslo, 1983

Einstürzende Neubauten live in Paris, 2008

An early interview of the band

Don’t miss the band when they stop by Brussels in November for their “3 decades of Einstürzende Neubauten. 2 nights of celebration”. The first night will feature a side program with films, installations, and a concert of the band followed by individual performances and the second a regular show. Earplugs are highly recommended, especially if you plan to attend both…