Soundtrack to the Apocalypse

April 24th, 2012 | Category: Marginalia, Videos

In anticipation of the new Justin Broadrick solo project, Posthuman, under his old Techno Animal moniker JKFlesh, I’ve been listening to lots of similar sounds. Not only old Godflesh (since I’m hoping to write a book about their debut long-player, Streetcleaner, for Continuum/Bloomsbury Academic’s 33 1/3 Series), but also other 3by3 Music releases (e.g., Cloaks and Dead Fader), as well as Ad Noiseam stuff (e.g., Larvae and Oyaarss). Thanks to one of my past students (Thanks, Felicity!), I’ve also gotten into Death Grips, which brings me to the point.

In the mid-1990s, there was an almost-genre that I still don’t know what to call. It consisted of bands like Jawbox, Helmet, Barkmarket, Unsane, Tar, Unwound, and many others. It was kinda Metal, kinda Punk, but really neither of those. At the time, everything that didn’t have a genre got lumped into the nondescript “alternative” bin. If it meant anything, it meant that Red House Painters and Helmet had something in common (They don’t, at least not aesthetically).

I don’t know what to call Death Grips. Having signed to Epic records this year and just release The Money Store today, their first “official” release (even though Ex-Military is as proper a record as any), they’re set to do something. Like those bands from the 1990s, their sound is a weird conflation of genres: It’s part Punk, part Industrial, part Rap, and part something else (Hella’s Zach Hill plays drums for freak’s sake). It reminds me simultaneously of the Sex Pistols, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Whitehouse, as well as Cloaks, Dead Fader, and Oyaarss with maniacally appropriate vocals. Here’s a video from their Ex-Military (2001) release [runtime: 3:47]:

Honestly, what is that? It’s so dirty and gritty, yet so futuristic. It’s like the first time I heard Public Enemy in 1987, Godflesh in 1989, or dälek in 2002. Here’s one from the new record called “Get Got” [runtime: 2:52]:

Speaking of Godflesh, I have their main-man Justin Broadrick to thank for my finding Cloaks. These two guys do a 21st-century kind of industrial music that is heretofor unheard. This is “Detritus Version” from their latest (Versions Grain), which is a collection of remixes from their last full-length (Versus Grain) [runtime: 3:33]:

I don’t know what this stuff is, but if it isn’t the soundtrack to the apocolypse, then I don’t know what to call it.

Further Posting: