The Age of Clank: Why Genres are Important

Written for Collapse Board

A few weeks ago, Chris Razor wrote about clank – a new genre title he’d coined, and I was grateful, because I’d been trying to think of a word for it for ages. I was getting fed up of saying “experimental electronica”, because that makes it sound like it sounds more like this and it doesn’t. Instead, it sounds like this.

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Most overlooked posts of the past 3 months

3:10 to Yuma

1. Terminator 2, and other remixes
Pogo: “Comprising nothing but small sounds recorded from Terminator 2, Skynet Symphonic is my tribute to one of the greatest action features of all time.”
I’ve also included a few of Pogo’s other innovative “remixes”.

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Ohgr

I’ve got a headache, so today’s update will be brief. My pal Damin just bought the new Ohgr CD, and reckons it’s pretty good. Skinny Puppy’s Nivek Ogre released an album (Welt) at the turn of the millennium. That was pretty good, too. Ohgr is a co-project with Ruby’s Mark Walk, and was originally supposed to feature Al Jourgensen, though he only ever contributed one track, which ended up as Ministry’s The Fall. In spite of all that, the music was far from the derivative “industrial” drivel peddled at the time and felt fresh and innovative. If you were into that sort of music at that sort of time, you might have heard Cracker – a twitchy and ridiculously infectious pop song that was wholly unexpected after the brutal noise of Puppy’s The Process. It even has a rap bit. One that works.

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Memory Lane: Skinny Puppy

Note: these interviews were conducted when I was 17-19 years old and running a music fanzine, so if they seem rather amateurish, it’s because they were. The italics are notes added 10-15 years after the event.

OK, this is the last one. It was pretty funny because we’d only dimly heard of Skinny Puppy before their PR agent sent us a copy of The Process. Immediately after the first track, we called up and requested an interview with Nivek Ogre “to talk to the old smackhead before he keels over, too”. It was maybe six months to a year after Dwayne Goettel overdosed, and the band had acrimoniously split. Aside from The Process, we weren’t hugely familiar with their stuff beyond knowing they’d influenced bands like Nine Inch Nails – an omission we corrected swiftly afterwards.
On the day of the interview, we were queued in the lobby of a classically-luxurious West End hotel, to be herded in ‘zine by ‘zine for a twenty-minute interview. Eventually we were beckoned upstairs, and caught a fleeting glimpse of Ogre – real name Kevin Ogilvy – who whispered “five minutes” and shut the door again.

I’m not sure if we actually expected Ogre to be big and green, but what we were definitely not expecting was hot. I don’t think we actually moved for the whole five minutes – just stared at the closed door, thunderstruck. When we were eventually allowed in to the sterile meeting room, we were still a little dazed, but it didn’t matter – when we read the interviews he’d given that day, they were all near-identical: it probably didn’t even matter what we’d asked, though we might have done better if we’d done our research properly. Live and learn …

What have been the highlights of your time in Skinny Puppy?

Ogre: For me, it has to be the theatrical side of it, and being able to personify things that were close to my heart. One little bit we did once was about cows being koshered and we were trying to take all those characters and feelings of pain and convey that pain to the audience. So we had this cow being koshered looping over and over again and I come out with a Big Mac, and I’d pull it out, massage it. Then I’d take it right over the audience and bit into it, and it had these blood bags tied up with elastic bands, really really tight inside it, so when I bit into it they exploded everywhere. It was really bad, the blood would just explode down the back of my throat and I was f***ing puking really badly, which is why I could never suck cock.

*blink*

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Adventures in Music: Last.fm

Pandora always had the sense to see that my taste wasn’t “industrial” or “rock” or “pop”, but “songs with strong hooks and elements of electronica, featuring syncopated rhythms, in predominantly minor keys, with strong vocals and extensive vamping”.

It’s all moot now, though, because Pandora stopped streaming to the UK a couple of years back, which means we just have Last.fm, and Last.fm streams by genre. That means that a fan of NIN must automatically like Stabbing Westward (not really!); that if you like Blur then you have to like Oasis (*shudder*); and heaven forbid you type in Gwen Stefani unless you really want to listen to Fergie (and, let’s face it, most people don’t).

Still, I thought I’d give it another go yesterday on the recommendation of a friend, and installed their ‘scrobbling’ tool, which rummages through your record collection to dig out the stuff you really actually listen to. Wow! Have I really listened to Foetus over 280 times in the past month? OK, then: let’s see what “Foetus Radio” throws up. I read on Twitter that one person hated their Foetus station on Pandora because “it didn’t know which style to pick”. That, my dear, is precisely the point …
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Jarboe – Red
I don’t even know how to begin to classify this, except that I could definitely listen to more. It reminds me a bit of Ruby – or more specifically, of when Silverfish’s Lesley Rankine was singing for Pigface: just abrasively feisty female vocals over searing breakbeats.
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Steroid Maximus – Chaiste
Hooray! Quentin Tarantino wrote a soundtrack! OK, technically it’s JG Thirlwell, but it’s what would happen if QT did write soundtracks.
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The Damage Manual – Sunset Gun

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I saw this lot live once – accomplished my dream of walking up to Jah Wobble and saying, “Mr Wobble: may I shake you by the hand?” (He obliged). They sound exactly what you think ex-Killing Joke members fronted by Chris Connelly would sound like. One of those promising bands where nobody can quite work out why they weren’t enormous.

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Nurse With Wound – Wash The Dust From My Heart
I had a lot of preconceptions about what a seminal goth-industrial band ought to sound like: unfavourable enough to ignore them, at any rate. They’re actually very good – quite mellow and listenable, and not at all what I was expecting. It actually reminds me of dreamy Creation act The Telescopes – that very warm double-bass sound and lazy jazz aesthetic.
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Chris Connelly – July
OMG! I had totally forgotten this album existed! I probably have it in the attic somewhere. I still know all the words. Connelly impersonates David Bowie over a pared-down indie-rock guitar sound. Good song.
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