The Swinging Sounds of Modern Industry

Let’s not be hasty and rule out anything that sounds like the construction down the street. First off, it’s painting with a wide brush. You’ll block out too much and eventually paint yourself into a pleasant, drowsy corner with Norah Jones. Second, it’s too escapist. These are the sounds of modern living, and it’s better to listen in on this new acoustic environment than run away. Why, those piledrivers outside your window, they’re just like urban-industrial songbirds. Listen to them tweet.

» Listen to “Negativland” by Neu

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There’s no doubt I’d hate to listen to jackhammers outside my window, but maybe that’s a result of the forced association, and not the tone and timbre. If you were forced to listen to songbirds at the same volume, the result might be the same. I’m sure if you turned nature up really loud it would sound something like Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. I’d like to say Metal Machine Music is a work of original, epic, feedback genius that would soundtrack a new cacophonic religion, but I still haven’t been able to listen to it all the way through.

» Listen to Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed

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If only more people learned to appreciate their surrounding soundscape like Einstürzende Neubuaten (literally translated as “Destroying New Buildings”), then maybe we could live in peace with the surrounding rubble. Supposedly, when playing the 9:30 Club in the ’90s, they started sawing into the support columns of the club until somebody stopped them. Such a shame—we can only wonder what it sounded like.

» Listen to “Wollt ihr die totale Befriedigung” by Einstürzende Neubuaten

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This is all the same old John Cage, musique concrète, “everything around you is actually music so why even leave the house when you can sit at home and listen to the fascinating sounds of your toaster” argument you may have heard before. I feel you on this. I once watched some random noise band throw their keys on a chair for half an hour. Eventually even Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge probably got sick of industrial music and turned toward happier music about hurling threats at Roman Polanski. Good times.

» Listen to “Roman P” by Psychic TV

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And if there wasn’t industrial music, we wouldn’t have bands like Tussle. Well no, what I’m saying is I can’t listen to anymore industrial music right now and Tussle’s minimalist dance beats are a welcome distraction.

» Listen to Tussle

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In conclusion, where would we be without Bauxite—I mean the sounds of modern industry? Modest Mouse might still exist, but they’d be in a gentler, comatose alternate reality where distortion pedals were frowned upon. You’d lose a few songs, but might still have a good album leftover.

» Stream the new Modest Mouse album

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