The popular form of “Industrial” music was originally conceived in order to mimic the sounds of factories and the new loud, noisy metropolis. In the ’70s, Genesis P-Orrige of Throbbing Gristle alleged that “rock” derived music was slave music, and that there must be a new aesthetic for our busy, industrialized lifestyle. Of course, P-Orrige was preempted by Luigi Russolo and the Futurists by about 50 years, plus some of the then-avant-garde composers of the ’40s and the ’50s. However, Industrial Records brought noise out of the universities and into the public. I am of the opinion that those pioneers dropped the ball soon after they had it, but this isn’t the forum for that argument.
Fast-forward about 20 years to the present. Industrial is virtually a useless term, with many facets of the underground claiming it as their own. Penguin Mechanics picks up where those early noisicians left off, cramming the industrial idiom into a tiny sock and hurling it around the dancefloor.
The concept behind this comp is stated thus: “The mechanics were nearly complete freedom with the rough guideline of constructing a track that resembles the machine; possibly combining recorded and synthesized sounds of — klankgrinding, motor whirring, metallic collisions, beeps and buzzes-into rhythmic components.” The sounds assembled are as diverse as this concept merits. Phthalocyancine’s drudging monster “Metalo-meld-mechano” resembles this description most. Coarse sandpaper atmospheres crouch below massive machine thumps. This is what going to a Survival Research Labs performance could sound like. Octopus Inc. takes the concept into another direction with the melodic “Goldbug.” A surprising number of the contributions to this compilation are at least marginally melodic, contradicting what I had heard about the soullessness of the comp. V/VM stick out among all of the camps involved, their “Mechanical Force Resistance…” is a burning shard of power electronics with a rhythmic bent. Not dissimilar to what Merzbow would sound like if he ditched much of his analog gear and switched to a laptop. Colongib contributes a manic analog synth workout similar to his recent work.
While not every track on this compilation is as spectacular as those detailed above, Penguin Mechanics provides about an hour of solid entertainment, and serves to document a(nother) sub-movement in the electronic field.