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︎ Long Read: Tember’s Revelations: early 2000s Industrial

by Tim Lensvelt, May 11 2020

photo by Stephan Vercaemer

Do you remember which track first introduced you to a specific genre? The track that made you go down a rabbit hole and obsessively explore all releases you could find? In Tember’s revelations, Tember shares some of the tracks that introduced him to a specific (sub-) genre that has become defining for his sound as a DJ. This time, Industrial music from the early 2000s (~1997-2007).

Usually my revelations occur when I’m around friends, new people or out to see other artists play live. Due to the current crisis these sources of inspiration have been harder to come by and discovering new music sometimes becomes a bit tedious. Fortunately, music is in abundance, and I can go back to one of my older revelations to discover more music. In this series, I will be sharing some of my favourite past revelations so that you hopefully still get to discover something completely new.

Industrial music has a lot of different connotations; some may instantly think of four to the floor throbbing techno, some may think it’s strange undanceable music with a lot of ‘machine sounds’ and others may think it is simply ‘noise’. Industrial music can be all of these things, but it can be so much more too. From its beginning, industrial music has been intertwined with electronic music and it is no surprise that industrial music has had its influence on the dancefloor.

During the 1990s clubs were dominated by new house and techno music. In many clubs, four to the floor became the blueprint of a party. The surge in raves and electronic dance parties across the globe also had its influence on industrial music.
Many industrial producers sought to make more danceable music, but in a different way. As Empusae once noted in an interview “My music is pretty danceable, but I simply cannot make the standard blueprint. I can’t resist adding a ton of different things, making it impossible for me to make a repetitive dance track”.1  Adding a ton of different things is a pretty accurate representation of early 2000s industrial music, which  often contained different elements from breakbeat to tribal to ambient to IDM. That is why I do not think of industrial music as simply ‘noise’, but instead I view it as an extremely interesting genre.

1. Empusae - Neupridem (2005, Hands Productions)

This was the very first song that introduced me to early 2000s Industrial. One day my partner put on this song and I was dumbfounded by how melodic and danceable this piece of industrial was. Before that, I had only known industrial as industrial techno or some downtempo experimental music but never had I heard anything like this. So melodic, dark yet atmospheric and what incredible percussion. This track, and particularly the artist Empusae, really are the cornerstone of what I love about industrial music. 

2. Imminent Starvation - Lost Highway 72 (1997, Hymen Records)

Hymen Records was a sub-label of the legendary Ant-Zen label which focussed more on the IDM side of industrial music. This track is not as accessible as the previous track, considering it is more experimental and also a bit rougher. But give it some time, because once you do you will realize how incredibly captivating and hypnotic this track is.

3. Tzolk'in – Chikchan (2004, Divine Comedy Records)

This is a perfect example of how many influences could be found in industrial music during the early 2000s. It’s got a dark gloomy vibe and uses a bunch of elements from dark ambient, tribal, experimental and noise. These elements are all solidified by the impressive percussion often characteristic for industrial.

4. Björk - Jóga (Alec Empire Mix) (1997, One Little Indian)

Björk is known for not being afraid to try new things and I think this is a perfect example of that. For her 1997 single “Jóga”, she asked producer Alec Empire to remix it. Alec Empire is a producer that cannot be defined by one genre, and has made a huge impact on many genres. He created 3 remixes for Björk’s single and this is by far my favourite one, combining hardcore and industrial to create a wonderful new thing out of Björk’s track.