is an album that makes me RAGE
. Once, it did not. I even found it a musical curiosity of sorts, much like other fans of underground music who had come across this oddity. What happened?
Well, Cromagnon were an experimental music group active in the middle to late 60's who shat out a single album and disappeared. This probably wouldn't be notable at all, if it wasn't for the fact that it seems that every single critic who has listened to Orgasm
claims it to be some sort of musical anomaly that is industrial music before there even was
industrial music. Sometimes the connection made is far too vague for my liking, but semi-acceptable at least comparing Orgasm
to first wave industrial groups such as Throbbing Gristle and Einstürzende Neubauten. Worse, it has been compared to Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy. No, no, no! I am here to attempt to shatter this delusion, and claim that this album was absolutely of its time and could not have been produced in any other era. Also, it's a pile of ***.
Well, let's define industrial music. Most music listeners nowadays relate the term to industrial rock or industrial metal bands such as the previously mentioned work of Trent Reznor, Al Jourgenson's Ministry, Skinny Puppy and KMFDM. This is fair, as genres do evolve over time and often deviate cleanly from their roots but in truth these bands are technically post-industrial in nature. This music goes way back to the 70's, to a UK label known as Industrial Records. The artists who belonged to this label, such as Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and SPK, had a certain agenda to create a kind of anti-music fueled by a political and philsophical ambiguity focusing on taboo topics for shock value. Coinciding with the rise of British post-punk, much of the sonic exploration to come out of this era overlapped with it and took influences from the developing sounds of electronic music still based in analogue technology, musique concrète and found sounds which could be found in Krautrock and the work of Pierre Schaeffer, the harsh, unpleasant sounds of noise which the Futurist movement were flirting with as early as 1913, and dark ambient of which the "Godfather of Ambient" Brian Eno is responsible but which it would take other artists such as Coil and Zoviet France to truly further the concept of exploring sinister, gloomy soundscapes for. In any case, much like any genre there was a logical development that can be traced from early works by certain artists, some of which could be labelled "proto-industrial", if you are so inclined to use such a term. Cromagnon is not one of them.
Most of this industrial talk (in fact, probably ALL of it) comes from the first track on Orgasm
. I'm not gonna lie, I like this song. Let's break it down into it's components though. Alright, it opens with swirling tape noises and horn samples. Crickets chirp in the background. Then suddenly, IT'S ON. Punishing drums, bagpipes and sinister, whispered vocals. There is nothing industrial about bagpipes. Quote of the ***ing year ladies and gentleman. However, the drums have a certain distorted, soaked in reverb quality, which is actually incredibly powerful. This is one weird, curiously fascinating track. But, save for the vaguest connection due to affected percussion and the experimental nature of it all this sounds nothing like anything ever released by the first wave industrial groups, let alone Nine Inch Nails or Skinny Puppy. One reviewer even went so far to claim that "Now, when you stick the needle into the groove that is opener, "Caledonia", you'll immediately think you're listening to Einsturzende Neubaten gone black metal, then you'll realize you're WRONG and that there was no reference points such as that available in 1968". Ugh. I maintain this an enjoyable song, however, even if I don't agree with this sentiment. Unfortunately, it is all downhill from here.
Think of a bunch of stoned art students clapping wooden sticks and shaking coins in a jar, whilst one of them incoherently records himself making sounds like he either needs to vomit or is seriously straining to take a dump. This is Ritual Feast Of The Libido
, which is possibly the worst thing I have ever heard. Organic Sundown
is kind of like this but with more intricate percussion, whilst Fantasy
introduces vocal harmonies and is a kind of dark ambient precursor with it's gloomy, swirling electronic effects, of which Genetalia
is similar. Crow Of The Back Tree
is a weak, weak nod to psychedelic rock. The final two tracks are probably the best of the rest though, Toth, Scribe I
and First World Of Bronza
. These hint at further ambient excursions, the latter sounding a lot like a weaker Death In June track with noodling psych rock guitar. Toth, Scribe I
is the closest the album gets to sounding industrial, much more pure noise than anything else on here. Other stuff such as Luigi Russolo's Veglio Di Una Citta
(1913) and Robert Ashley's The Wolfman
(1964) preceded this though, and did it much, much better which makes it seem unremarkable. The more I delve into compilations of old avant-garde electronic music such as OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music
, it seems there were many, many artists who were doing things like this.
is no musical anomaly, just a headache of an album to listen to. I have to begrudgingly admit it is no coincidence people connect this with the first wave of industrial music, though. After all the genre had it's roots in several esoteric branches of music, many of which Orgasm
does tip it's unfashionable hat to. But please, if anybody ever compares this to Nine Inch Nails or Skinny Puppy again i'm going to kick them in the dick.