This is a personal selection of influential power electronics tracks, which were pivotal to my introduction, appreciation, and understanding of power electronics overall. I should also note that my own involvement and interest in power electronics occurred from the mid to late 1990s; this selection reflects that, and there are many earlier examples of critical power electronics which I personally only discovered in later years.
1. CON-DOM: Moor Rapist
Taken from the War Against Society 3xLP compilation 1997 on Praxis Dr. Bearmann
From packaging and presentation to its musical content, this lavish 3xLP compilation was highly influential and features other notable artists including The Grey Wolves, Militia, Streicher, LAW, and Victim Kennel. For me a clear standout track was Con-Dom’s (short for Control Domination) ‘Moor Rapist’ track. With its raw and direct pounding structure and its clear, upfront vocals delivered in the first-person perspective, the initial impact it had on me can still be remembered today. Its theme raises a multitude of questions regarding context, message, and potential interpretation, and this is coupled with a blood boiling soundscape and is one of Mike Dando’s finest moments.
2. GENOCIDE ORGAN: Klaus Barbie/White Power Forces
Taken from the Heavy Electronics: Two Days of Agony VHS 1994, Tesco Organisation
Given the limitation and rarity of early Genocide Organ output, my first introduction to the group was actually via the video document of the 1993 Heavy Electronics festival, which featured three tracks from Genocide Organ. Of the three, two were complete standouts: ‘Klaus Barbie’ and ‘White Power Forces’. Almost making a mockery of the term ‘brute force’, the sheer aggression of the live performance is completely over the top. As evidenced in the video the antagonism of the members in palpable, where two balaclava-clad vocalists attack chain wire mesh with baseball bats (the mesh separating performers from audience); self-mutilate with a scalpel; and deliver a rabid dual vocal attack to match the ferocity of the harsh, minimalist structured sonics. At the time I could barely comprehend it all, and although my initial impression was one of dislike, there was something in the totality of expression and lack of explanation or qualification of potential message which kept me coming back to watch it over and over until my understanding of it all ‘clicked’. Classic for a reason.
[Note: videos of the performances mentioned above are no longer available on YouTube.]
3. THE GREY WOLVES: Victory Through Violence
Taken from the Heavy Electronics II</em> 4xCD 1997, Tesco Organisation
Another quintessential power electronics classic and a staple ‘hit’ of infrequent Grey Wolves live performances. This track encapsulates everything I love about The Grey Wolves, which could be interpreted as middle finger ‘punk’ antagonism or a direct call for anarchism; the simple celebration of violence; or as something else entirely. However the raw spite of the treated vocals would not be half as powerful if it were not for the rough, barely structured, pulsing industrial backing. My chosen version (of which there are a few floating around) is duly credited to The Grey Wolves/ Con-Dom (noting that Mike Dando has taken a role as a live member of The Grey Wolves for many shows), and is taken from another highly influential release, being the lavish 4xCD Tesco Disco compilation, which also featured Inade, Anenzephalia, and Satori.
4. BRIGHTER DEATH NOW: Innerwar
Taken from Brighter Death Now, Innerwar LP 1996 Cold Meat Industry
Having been a devotee of the pioneering death industrial/death ambient sound of Brighter Death Now on many earlier releases, when the Innerwar album was released it demonstrated a massive step-up in direct aggression towards a power electronics sound. The repeated mantra of the introductory sample functions to build a knife-edge tension, before the track completely explodes into over-the-top throbbing industrial looped chaos and an unintelligible distorted vocal attack to match. Aggression and minimalist simplicity at its finest, which also thematically turns the perspective of conflict inward on oneself.
5. SURVIVAL UNIT: One Man’s War/No Surrender
Taken from the double A sided 7” single One Man’s War/No Surrender 2000 StateArt
Although coming quite a few years later than other material in this list, for me this double A sided single always stood out as an excellent example of power electronics anthems and from the new guard of younger acts at the time. Being unable to choose between the two tracks, I have featured both, and although heavily influenced by the likes of The Grey Wolves, the sound, the attitude, nails its approach perfectly. The introductory samples; the antagonistic, distortion treated vocals with a direct statement of intent/call to action; the ‘artwar’ graphics; and the manifesto on the back cover, provides a complete package with ample thematic fodder to mull over. Although main member Kristian Olsson would go on to produce much more individualistic material as Survival Unit and later as Alfarmania, I still hold this debut 7” in high regard.
Want to know more? Pick up a copy of Fight Your Own War, edited by Jennifer Wallis. Available in paperback and a limited special edition hardback.
The first book devoted to power electronics, written by artists, fans, and critics.