The field recording is an ideal tool for the study of urban living. There are many devices available, as accessible as the common smart phone. A recording of an urban setting transmits a lot of data. These are not the familiar sine patterns of the analog synth or typical tone of the clarinet. They are sounds rich with dissonance, noise, tonal qualities, voices and texture. Texture is a key element of urban recordings. I know what asphalt looks like. What does it sound like? What does metal sound like-- when it is struck, bent, or tapped? How about glass? If it is broken?
The "New Industrial" project establishes an interest in the works of Man (and Woman). Its instruments are artificial ingredients-- the everyday elements of a public experience. Industrial acts such as Einstuerzende Neubauten explored the use of manmade ingredients and settings, but they often infused these settings with guitar, bass or vocals, and with a sense of violence that is too emotive for what this music must strive to express. Neubauten were on the right track, but they made the music a part of rock and roll. They were at their best when they let it speak for itself.
Many acts have born the moniker of "Industrial", but have used traditional instruments such as synthesizers, guitars and drums to create their sound(s). Bands such as these excessively romanticize, or "musical-ize" the city and industrial locales by making them into more traditional songs, that sound like traditional songs. An occasional sludge or drone metal band might approximate the urban sound, but that again is done with guitars. Why make guitars sound like the city? Why not just record the city?
Noise is an element of these sounds-- it joins hands with tonal qualities, texture, and other traits. Noise in the city blends with other sounds. The city emits a hum of its own-- a noise that permeates everything. It is a lack of this sound that travelers refer to when they note how quiet the country sounds. The noise of the city is not necessarily harsh walls of noise, or slabs of noise, nor is it digital noise. It is a very organic kind of noise, emerging from a number of sound sources common to the city, such as automobiles, radios and other machinery.Noise is a necessary organ in the urban sound body-- it cannot be removed without effect. It must be present and functioning to create a healthy and complete music.The band Einstuerzende Neubauten use music to evoke the city-- and are at their best when the city is the music:
Watch Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odKf7_sA5HQ
"New Industrial" may contain a sense of rhythm. If it does, it should be one that occurs in the city-- the throbbing of an engine, or clattering of one of various machines. 4/4 time is replaced with continual pulses of sound that may vary to some degree. Sonic events can happen on cue, but may likely appear in pieces stochastically. In this, "New Industrial" takes a cue from some ambient, where events can happen seemingly without logic, creeping in from the periphery of the recording.
A sense of scale is important. Microscopic urban environments are possible, but I would suggest that larger-scale environments are more appropriate to the movement. Atmospheres should be vast in scope in order to connote the impressive scale of the city at a large, and of its various components. Indeed, men and women can seem dwarfed in comparison with the city. So should the listener when tuned into a recording.
Much early industrial has a didactic quality, in which the singer laments that he or she is part of a "machine", or a military-industrial complex. The "New Industrial" takes this reality in stride. Angry vocals about the modern experience are replaced with mute contemplation of it. Fear and awe may be present, but these are now wordless as Man (or Woman) navigate their collective, depersonalized surroundings.
There may be some attempt to moralize such a music, to call it "evil". I would suggest that it is at most neutral. Clinging to archaic tropes about mass culture and acculturation being sinister is counterproductive. The machine, technology, the city-- these are now central to human experience. Condemning our creations results only in us condemning ourselves.
One video in my "New Industrial" playlist was inspired by the vista of a large valley filled with industrial factories that I ran into when heading along Grand Avenue one evening. The spectacle was both fearful and awesome, and thoroughly depersonalizing. I created a piece using home-collected machine sounds to pay tribute to this spectacle. The video playlist is ever-growing, and features pieces in the "New Industrial" style of various lengths. If there is any confusion about the music I mean, this playlist provides a clear an explicit view of it.The "New Industrial" playlist is ever--growing, and contains examples of music made in accordance to the rules of this new movement: