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EXTREME CONDITIONS DEMAND EXTREME RESPONSES: Test Dept’s Industrial-strength Socialism
09.16.2013
10:14 pm
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In 1984, I was fortunate to be present for something called the “Program For Progress,” a large-scale site-specific performance by the influential early industrial group Test Dept at the Cannon Street Railway Station in London. Test Dept were a group that were signed to Some Bizarre at the time and had a real buzz about them and the extravagant post-punk political pageantry of their live events. The band’s mainstay members were Angus Farquhar, Graham Cunnington, Paul Jamrozy, Paul Hines and Toby Burdon. (According to Wikipedia, comedian Vic Reeves also played bass in an early version of the group.)

Walking into this epic event was quite something. I recall there being performers jumping on trampolines and “Socialist Realism” imagery projected via slides and film projectors onto huge sail-like swaths of white cloth hung from the high ceilings of the railway station. If memory serves, there were also a few bekilted bagpipers walking around and tables set up for various organizations, including efforts to aid the striking miners. Although the event had the ostensible veneer of an “outlaw” event, there was obviously no way that a huge “happening” like this one could have taken place without the express consent of British Rail. The centerpiece attraction for all assembled was the pounding, uncompromising, militaristic sound of Test Dept.
 

 
I know this will probably make some people groan, but I experienced Test Dept’s audio-visual assault as something akin to Einst├╝rzende Neubauten meets Laibach (if they were easier to pin down politically) meets “Stomp.” Perhaps that makes what they did that night sound uncool, but that’s not my intention. It was an amazing theatrical spectacle to witness, full of savage, precise teamwork. It was a massive metal—and mental—pounding assault, but frankly the sort of thing I’d rather experience live in a concert setting than listen to at home.

The striking political content of the group’s ethos was summed up in one of their songs, “Voice of Reason,” in a text written by radical English playwright Jonathan Moore:

” ... A government that closes hospitals and opens nuclear air bases, that conspicuously favours its wealthy, its corrupt, its immoral citizens, while denying basic human rights to the majority. Extreme conditions demand extreme responses.”

Those extreme conditions were just beginning in 1984. The influential Test Dept broke up in 1993, but reformed again last year for a show in Belgium.

“Fuckhead” from The Unacceptable Face of Freedom album is a real stunner from their catalog.
 

“Kick to Kill” from 1984’s Beating the Retreat
 

“Shockwork” from 1983.
 
Below, a clip from the very Cannon Street Station performance described above, as seen on the South of Watford television program:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.16.2013
10:14 pm
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Down with the Sickness: enter the filthy world of Kurt Dirt
03.26.2013
12:59 pm
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Dangerous Minds, it’s time that introduced you to my good friend, and member of the Tranarchy family, Mr Kurt Dirt. Usually we keep him in the basement so as not to freak out the visitors, but he’s been scratching at the trapdoor lately, so we’ve decided let him loose for a while.

Kurt is a bit of a sick puppy. After years of gigging on the live circuit, Kurt decided to pack all the “band” nonsense in and go it alone (though he still puts on one mean live show, featuring bare back gorillas, dancing demons and women in cages.) He makes music that sounds like vintage late 80s/early 90s Wax Trax, and cites Fad Gadget, Big Black and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult as his major influences. By some incredible kind of osmosis, though, he somehow manages to take all those influences and make music that’s even MORE camp than the originals, which is surely some kind of magical feat. 

Another one of Kurt Dirt’s major influences is the soundtrack to Tetsuo, and on the topic of films soundtracks, Mr Dirt has just finished scoring the upcoming Troma release Return To Nuke ‘Em High and is about to start work on the score for the sequel. Kurt Dirt and Troma films is a match made in heaven (or, rather, the deepest bowels of hell.)

That Troma influence is loud and clear in his new video, “Love Sick”. Taken from his debut solo release, the Rat Burger EP, this clip takes the viewer into a disgusting nether land of licking used diapers and literally fucking skulls. Yep, it’s pretty sick, all the more for the authentic, scratchy, video look. Kurt says:

I just wanted to make the most horrible thing I could really, something that makes you feel like you shouldn’t be watching it. I choose to shoot it on 8mm video8 handy cam so that it would have worn down, tenth generation look of a video nasty era VHS movie. You see horror movies these days like saw etc that are 1000 times more graphic but they just feel way too clean, like your watching an MTV video. Visually I’d say we ripped off Hershell Gordon Lewis, Troma, Tobe Hooper and Harmonie Korine the most.

Kurt Dirt “Love Sick” (NSFW)
 

 
You can buy “Love Sick” (and the Rat Burger EP) and get more info on Kurt Dirt at KurtDirt.net.


BONUS!

After the jump, two more Kurt Dirt videos from Rat Burger, “I’m Filth” and “Beat Me Up Buttercup”...

READ ON
Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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03.26.2013
12:59 pm
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The ancient Buddhist roots of industrial music
05.17.2011
05:37 pm
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Moscow-based artist and musician Alexei Tegin shifted from his experiments in electronic and industrial sounds toward the traditional ritual music of ancient Tibet. Tegin began exploring the roots of Tibetan Buddhism and the ceremonial practices of the pre-Buddhist philosophy of Bon and gathered like-minded artists to form his group Phurpa (named after a Tibetan ritual dagger.)

Employing various instruments, including drums, cymbals, gyaling oboes, dunchen and wandu horns, Phurpa is keeping an ancient musical tradition alive and introducing it to the West.

Tegin’s evolution from industrial music to ancient drone seems a perfect transition. The soundwaves of the human voice when amplified in the cavities of the throat, mouth and larynx is an awesome instrument, a virtual chest shuddering roar. The grinding of the spheres.

Overtone singing and incantation converge in a hypnotic, powerful resonant roar in this Bon mantra.
 

 
More Phurpa after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Marc Campbell
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05.17.2011
05:37 pm
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