Tag Archives: Music

Book Review: Industrial Culture Handbook

Welcome to my blog and my first review! Today we will be looking at a book that many are not aware of and others fear. A book about technology, alienation, serial killers, and most importantly, art. I think.

Beginning with the title, we must ask what is industrial culture. Well, it doesn’t really mean much outside of the context of this book. There is not much of an industrial culture, but this book takes some important high points in industrial music and performance art that have similar themes, which is attributed in the subculture to the term industrial. But what is industrial? What does it mean to be industrial? This book seeks to answer these questions in a mostly indirect way. Some very interesting themes come to light as one withstands the pummeling this book dishes out and this review will be focused on some of the themes addressed. I’ll leave the details to you readers to discover.

These themes become apparent from the first block of text. We take this important information from our esteemed publisher/editor/agent, V. Vale, “By ‘industrial’ we mean the grim side of post-Industrial Revolution society-the repressed mythology, history, science, technology, and psychopathology.” In other words, this book deals with the artists represented take on the alienated individual(s) after the rise of unfeeling bureaucracy, meaningless and inhuman machines, and the grim facades of decaying factories. The artists include such luminaries as Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire (cohorts of the infamous Joy Division), Mark Pauline, and Johanna Went (the latter two being performance artists). We have inspirations here from authors William S. Burroughs and Anthony Burgess to serial killers such as Charles Manson and cult leaders like Jim Jones. The artists take these revised and despised leaders of counter culture, subculture, and deviance to a new high as revered and infamous tokens of rebellion and the dark underbelly of modern Western society and its discontents.

The key word here is rebellion. Rebellion against the restrictions of Western and Eastern music theories, rebellion against the misogynistic attitudes and norms of bourgeoisie society, rebellion against the media, and rebellion against plain good taste as mainstream culture understands it. Each artist uses or has a different specific reason for rebellion. Some have launched a jihad against cultural taboos, some seek to represent the artistry of rebelling against the mask of rebellion, and others simply try to annoy, piss off, or disgust as many people as they can. They attack our sensibilities. And I happen to think this is a vital part of society. Who asks the questions if not the rebels? To attack the institutions of culture, that is the main theme of this book and the theme these artists express. Even if we end up not agreeing with them we can still appreciate their questions. Their abrasive and nonconstructive questions. Why is that beautiful? Why this and not that? This is nothing less than the utter rejection of anything resembling a conservative or static cultural narrative or meaning. Oh, and it also includes flamethrower schematics. Enjoy!