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Gas masks, a/k/a respirators [Oct. 31st, 2009|08:44 pm]
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[Current Music |Psyclon Nine - Visceral Holocaust]

Like a lot of rivetheads, I find myself strangely drawn to dystopian, doomsday and post-apocalyptic art, scenes of urban decay, abandoned places, industrial machinery themes, nuclear/biological/chemical warfare, and militaria.  As part of my research for my rivethead book project, I'm compiling a list of references on gas masks, a/k/a respirators.  Until I started looking into this, I had no idea how difficult it is to find information on them, or how intellectually and aesthetically fascinating this investigation would become.  Fortunately, I embrace unusual hobbies, morbid intellectual fascinations, and general geeking out about whatever obscure or esoteric subject might grab my interest.

The definitive reference guide on gas masks seems to be Christopher T. Carey's 2004 book U.S. Chemical and Biological Defense Respirators: An Illustrated History (Schiffer Military/Aviation History).  Unfortunately, my public library doesn't have a copy, so it looks like I'll have to track one down online somewhere.

It occurred to me that others might find this reference list useful, so I'm posting it here.
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Favorite stomp-worthy danceable industrial tunes, Vol. 2 [Oct. 23rd, 2009|11:05 pm]
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Continuing with the ongoing list of industrial/dark electro/EBM tracks that make me want to dance like a madwoman.  I've already done all the searching on YouTube; here are the direct links.  Rivetheads, pull on those boots and stomp!
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Favorite stomp-worthy danceable industrial tunes, Vol. 1 [Sep. 9th, 2009|09:32 am]
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I'm going to start planning and saving up for a trip to Festival Kinetik in Montreal in May 2010, and start trying to find a possible travel companion.  I've heard great things about it.  I've never been to Montreal.  And besides...where else could one find that many rivetheads in one place?  I wish there were a big industrial music festival like this on the west coast, though, and I'd even be willing to help organize it.

In the meantime, here are some of my current favorite danceable industrial/electro/EBM tunes, complete with convenient links to YouTube videos.  Just click and dance!

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A bit of rambling regarding my tastes in music [Sep. 3rd, 2009|05:57 pm]
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[Note: This essay was first posted on my profile at last.fm; I'm posting it here as well, just to make sure all my related writings are in one place.  This version is slightly edited.]

I call myself a rivethead. I have diverse tastes in music, but I’d say about 75% of my music library could be classified as gothic, industrial, EBM, electro, synth-pop, futurepop, neofolk, darkwave, drone, and dark ambient.

The music I listen to and love the most can be classified into two subgenres:

1) Danceable industrial, dark electro, harsh electro, aggrotech, and terror EBM.

I love to dance, and I prefer club-ready tracks with hard pounding beats, moderate-to-heavy distortion, and deep pulsing bass lines. Even better if there are short but very ominous intros that grab attention and build anticipation before the rhythm kicks in – the kind of intro that would make a good opener for a dance performance. Thought-provoking and emotional (but not sappy) lyrics are a favorite of mine as well.

A few tracks I love in the first category:

  • Glis - No Pulse (Tactical Sekt Remix)
  • Patenbrigade: Wolff - Gefahrstoffe (Hocinoizeflug Club Mix)
  • C/A/T – Denied (Ghost of Disco Past Mix by Alter Der Ruine)
  • Tactical Sekt – Xfixiation (Hellfire Mix by [:SITD:])
  • Funker Vogt – Harvester of Sorrow (cover of a Metallica track)
  • Siva Six – Heart of the Master
  • E-Craft – Revolts Blood v1.0

2) Magnificent haunting, eerie, cold, desolate, cavelike, atmospheric, minimalist, droning layered soundscapes.

Usually I prefer this kind of music with no vocals or samples from movies, but there are some exceptions. Many of my favorite artists in this subgenre are from Sweden (where my maternal ancestors hail from) – what is it with those awesome Swedes and their great dark ambient music? They make layers of pure sonic wonder, just as the Germans seem to do with the danceable industrial tunes. I love it!

A few tracks I love in the second category:
  • Lustmord – Immersion
  • Apoptose – Nordland
  • Desiderii Marginis – Deadbeat I
  • Bleak – Everything is Cold
  • Atrium Carceri – Illusion Breaks

Themes also matter to me. Generally speaking, when I listen to music – whether danceable, or more sedate – I’m looking for emotional depth, poignancy, and beauty in dark or unexpected places, rather than shock, terror, or titillation. I don’t like or listen to music focused on gratuitously grisly murders, corpses, gore, torture, rape, or any kind of sexual degradation of women. (For example, I object to the portrayals of women in some of the music of Combichrist and Northborne, so I don't support those artists).  I don’t care much for anti-Christian, demonic, or horror movie themes, though I can understand the appeal. And I don’t care much for vampire-themed romance, BDSM, or other stereotypical/campy goth fodder, but again, I understand the appeal.

I try to be especially careful about what I expose myself to in terms of violent or grisly images in music videos, because images can be very powerful. Once you see something, you cannot “un-see” it. There are some disturbing images I saw 25 years ago that are still emblazoned on my brain in ways I can’t overwrite.

That said, I am most strongly drawn to a dark industrial aesthetic with apocalyptic, dystopian, military, heavy machinery, and winter themes: gas masks, biohazards, nuclear waste, forlorn ruins, decayed, abandoned and burned-out cities/buildings, arctic landscapes, suspense, and emotions such as dread, sorrow, loneliness, or mourning. Certain kinds of ritual, pagan, and occult themes also appeal to me.

Vocals are very important too. For example, I think [:SITD:] could be much better with improved vocal range. They’ve got a good handle on the beats, but their vocals sound flat and uninspired. The club mix of “Snuff Machinery” is a good example. Love that beat, but the vocals just don’t do it for me.

I’ve been listening to gothic/industrial/EBM for more than 20 years now. Once upon a time, way back when, I listened to old-school EBM and industrial such as Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Front 242, and Nine Inch Nails. Then, later, I focused mostly on danceable futurepop – VNV Nation, Covenant, Assemblage 23, etc. – and inexplicably lost some of my interest in harsh or growly vocals (except for certain oldie favorites like “Desire” or “Wasted Sky” by Numb or “Praying in Fire” by Controlled Bleeding). But things have shifted again in recent years, and I’ve rediscovered all my old favorites as well as expanded my music library. The kicker that got me into enjoying harsh vocals again was the track “Parasitic” by Psyclon Nine. When I first heard it, I loved the beat, but turned up my nose when the vocals kicked in. And I still don’t like some of their vocals; they’re just too distorted for my tastes. But “Parasitic” grew on me quickly, and now, it turns out, I enjoy this kind of music again.

Still, with a few notable exceptions, most of the work of industrial bands with really, really harsh vocals (e.g. Dawn of Ashes) doesn’t appeal to me.  I love the danceable beats of Die Sektor, for example, but most of the vocals are too much even for me.

I do like some “metal-ish” songs and industrial metal, and an occasional black metal track or two, but death metal and thrash metal don’t appeal to me.

I keep an open mind about all of this, though, and am usually delighted to be exposed to new music. There always seem to be at least a few good exceptions to every generalization I make about my musical tastes, and I like that.
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'Rivethead Fest' track lists - old school industrial & EBM [Sep. 2nd, 2009|03:17 pm]
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I've been intending to start posting in this journal for many months, but I'm just now getting around to it.  Academic pursuits have consumed just about all my time and energy for the past two years.  I graduated two weeks ago (which is, admittedly, kind of a strange place to be in middle age) and am now job-hunting, so I have more down time for awhile, although I don't expect it to last.  I think I'll take advantage of this time while I have it, and use this opportunity to refresh and/or delete all my outdated online accounts, profiles, blogs, etc.

I just created a profile at last.fm a few days ago, which is another thing I've been intending to do for months.  I'm finding it quite addictive, since I can hear obscure tracks there that aren't available anywhere else.  I just leave it on in the background and let it play tunes from my library randomly, and I love it.

I'm getting re-involved in the goth scene lately, and I am really blown away by how happy it makes me to be doing this again.  This is where I belong, in some fundamental way I can't really explain.  These are my people.  And it feels so good to be back in my element once again!  A few days ago I went to see Imperative Reaction and Psyclon Nine here in Portland; it's the first show I've been to in, oh, about ten years.  I was definitely one of the older folks there, but that didn't bother me one bit.  I've always said that this goth/rivethead thing isn't just a phase: I'll be the old lady sitting in my rocking chair at 85, grey-haired and knitting, while wearing a black leather jacket and listening to Ministry or Skinny Puppy.

Lately I've been working on a short essay describing my tastes in music.  As part of that process, I recently pulled out some of my old home-made mix CDs from back in the days when I first got into industrial music, and listened to every single track.  I was fascinated to discover that the music wears well; I still love most of the tracks ten, fifteen, and twenty years later.  Some of these tracks are long out of print and really hard to find, so I'm glad I had the foresight to collect them all in one place!

I put together a series of mix CDs in the mid-to-late-1990s entitled Rivethead Fest: Industrial Dance.  These were made solely for the sake of getting me to dance, and they still work very well for that purpose.  This is the stuff I once danced to at clubs in Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and Vancouver BC.

Here are the track lists for the first five of the series:

Rivethead Fest: Industrial Dance Volume I

  • Machines of Loving Grace – Butterfly Wings
  • 1000 Homo DJs – Supernaut
  • Front Line Assembly – Transtime
  • Spahn Ranch – Breath & Taxes
  • Out Out – Antidote
  • Sisters of Mercy – Lucretia My Reflection
  • Sister Machine Gun – Life
  • Armageddon Dildos – Haut
  • Front 242 – Never Stop!
  • Pankow – Me & My Ding Dong
  • Nine Inch Nails – Happiness in Slavery
  • Front 242 – Tragedy for You
  • Sisters of Mercy – More


Rivethead Fest: Industrial Dance Volume II

  • Contagion – Scratch
  • KMFDM – Light
  • Ministry – We Believe
  • Bigod 20 – The Bog
  • Nitzer Ebb – Join in the Chant
  • Test Dept. – New World Order
  • Front Line Assembly – Mindphaser
  • Acid Horse – No Name, No Slogan
  • Course of Empire – Copious
  • The Final Cut – Primal Understanding
  • Front Line Assembly – Outcast


Rivethead Fest: Industrial Dance Volume III

  • Numb – Wasted Sky
  • Apoptygma Berzerk – Deep Red
  • Rammstein – Du Hast
  • 16 Volt – Motorskill
  • 16 Volt – Hand Over End
  • Juno Reactor – God is God
  • Einstuerzende Neubauten – Haus der Luege
  • Wumpscut – Default (Aghast View Remix)
  • Wumpscut – Fear in Motion
  • Wumpscut – Soylent Green (Extended Version)
  • Wumpscut – Die in Winter
  • Snog – Born to be Mild
  • A Split Second – Rigor Mortis


Rivethead Fest: Industrial Dance Volume IV

  • Steril – No Remission
  • Covenant – Final Man (Club Version)
  • Velvet Acid Christ – The Hand (Cut Throat Psycho Rave Mix)
  • Funker Vogt – Killing Fields (Killed Mix)
  • Razed in Black – Future Unknown
  • Razed in Black – Cyberium (Endurance Mix)
  • Orgy – Blue Monday
  • Malaise – Walking Through the Wonderland
  • RKiK – Dreams
  • Luxt – Cleanser (Esomorph Mix)
  • Spahn Ranch – Swim
  • Controlled Bleeding - Praying in Fire


Rivethead Fest: Industrial Dance Volume V

  • Informatik – Watching You Watching Me
  • Covenant – Figurehead
  • Covenant – Tension
  • Noxious Emotion – Steril
  • Kevorkian Death Cycle – Never Say Never
  • Front Line Assembly – Gun
  • Numb – Blind
  • Rosetta Stone – Nothing
  • The Wake – Side Show
  • Alien Sex Fiend – Ignore the Machine
  • C-Tec – Foetal
  • C-Tec – Flowing
  • Xorcist – Scorched Blood

Rivethead Fest: Industrial Dance Volume VI

  • VNV Nation – Honour
  • Mesh – Trust You
  • Die Form – Silent Order
  • The Fair Sex – Not Now, Not Here
  • Numb – Desire
  • Razed in Black – I Worship You
  • Front Line Assembly – The Blade (Blindfold)
  • Oz Faktor – Vereint Sein
  • Apoptygma Berzerk – Paranoia
  • Birmingham 6 – Contagious
  • Qntal – Ad Mortem Festinamus
  • Individual Totem – Levitation (Shotgun Mix)
  • Luxt – Spite
  • Placebo Effect – Slashed Open
  • Switchblade Symphony – Clown


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