It’s goddamn likely that you haven’t yet heard of Controlled Bleeding and that’s a goddamn shame. Started in 1978 as a dissonant, instrumental outfit indebted to Henry Cow, they speedily evolved into power-electronics/white noise pioneers, releasing countless cassettes that helped define the genre. As luck would have it, soon songs began to take shape amid the static and distortion, leading to incredibly interesting developments. Controlled Bleeding started dabbling in multiple genres of music simultaenously, releasing several albums a year: there was the obligatory subsonic masochism of Fat Hacker, surprisingly hymnal ambience in Golgotha, metal experiments in Skin Chamber, and most intriguingly, straight-up caustic industrial dance, most perfectly embodied in the lost classic Penetration.
This album, released in 1992, saw Controlled Bleeding get seriously fucking funky! (Don’t worry, it still drips with distortion and martial beats.) Leader Paul Lemos (an NYC high school English teacher by day!), behemoth vocalist Joe Papa (the Crokus Behemoth of industrial music), and Chris Moriarty (percussion), crafted a harsh but eminently danceable hybrid of industrial noise and freestyle dance, where horns and Prince-referencing guitar riffs give way to teethgrinding distorted vocals and overloaded circuits. Penetration was the apotheosis of this sound, and a perfect primer to this band. The album gets even stranger at the very end, with the earbleeding white noise of “Scrap Metal (Part 3)” giving way to the dramatic, choral “Awakened Beneath the Ground.” Soon after, Controlled Bleeding would move on from this more “commercial” (their words!) sound, splintering off the metal experiments into Skin Chamber and the ambience into Golgotha, and the flagship band would go further away from linear songwriting. But here, god, what a moment.