Michael Goddard – Industrial Music for Post-Industrial People

Event date: 29 October 2011 
King’s Anatomy Theatre & Museum, 
6th Floor, King’s Building
King’s College London, 
Strand Campus, 
London, WC2R 2LS



Rhythm and Event

Michael Goddard (Salford):
Industrial Music for Post-Industrial People

Industrial musics, along with the noise musics that have followed in their wake have recently been criticised by both Simon Reynolds and Steven Goodman as falsely or only superficially transgressive and as being surpassed by other musical forms, usually those associated with dance musics. While every new style in music, or indeed anywhere else, risks becoming prone to both creative and cliché repetitions, this paper will argue that there was something crucial about the deployment of rhythm in industrial and post-industrial noise musics that is absent from even the most radical forms of dance music in that, at times, industrial musics experimented not only with aberrant and anomalous rhythms but even arrhythmia, or the dispensing of rhythm altogether as an organising principle for sound recordings, thereby challenging the relations between the terms music, sound and noise. In many respect the anomaly, rather than transgression, of industrial musics was precisely its distance not only from pre-existing rhythms but also its calling into question of rhythm as such in a type of sonic psychosis that would later be explored in a range of noise musics. In this sense the extreme cultural material dealt with in industrial musics, for example, in Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire’s interests in serial killers, cult leaders, freaks and deviants, is inseparable from a deviation from the norms of rhythmic sonic forms (TG’s ‘We Hate You Little Girls or ‘In the Valley of the Shadow of Death’, CV’s ‘Baader Meinhof’) or alternatively their ultra-conventional, almost parodic simulation (‘AB/7A’, ‘Distant Dreams’). This destabilising of rhythm corresponds to the contemporaneous destabilisation of industrial rhythms and social relations in modern industrial societies, the transformation to the post-industrial and its accompanying collective schizophrenia which is really what industrial musics were always about (rather than being a throw back to industrial technologies and rhythms). This paper will therefore explore industrial musics as a critical tracing of the event of post-industrial transformation, arguing that this critical function is expressed via a problematisation of rhythm that is covered over in the rhythmic variations of dance musics.

Michael Goddard is a lecturer in media studies at the University of Salford. His current research centres on Polish and European cinema and visual culture and he is reviews editor of Studies in Eastern European Cinema (SEEC). He has just completed a book on the cinema of the Chilean-born filmmaker Raúl Ruiz. He has done research into Deleuze’s aesthetic and film theories, which has resulted in a number of publications. He has also been doing research on the fringes of popular music focusing on groups such as The Fall, Throbbing Gristle and Laibach. Another strand of his research concerns Italian post-autonomist political thought and media theory, particularly the work of Franco Berardi (Bifo). He is now conducting a research project, Radical Ephemera, examining radical media ecologies in film, TV, radio and radical politics in the 1970s.


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