Electronic body music

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Electronic body music (EBM) is a music genre that combines elements of post-industrial music, electronic dance music and synthpunk.[1] It first came to prominence in Belgium and was considered a part of the European New Wave movement.[1]

Pure electronic body music is referred to as old-school EBM and should not be confused with aggrotech, dark electro or industrial music.[2]

Emerging in the late 1970s, the genre's early influences range from industrial music (Throbbing Gristle, Chrome, Cabaret Voltaire), European synthpunk (DAF, Liaisons Dangereuses, Portion Control), and danceable electronic music (Kraftwerk).


The clip illustrates some characteristics of the genre, such as beats, sequences and sampling (′beating on metal′).

A harsher variant of the genre, prevalent in Sweden (cf. Pouppée Fabrikk).

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From its inception, the style has been characterized by hard and often sparse danceable electronic beats, clear undistorted vocals, shouts or growls with reverberation and echo effects, and repetitive sequencer lines. At the time the genre arose, important synthesizers were the Korg MS-20, Emulator II, Oberheim Matrix and Yamaha DX7. Typical EBM rhythms are based on 4/4 beats, mainly with some minor syncopation to suggest a rock music rhythm structure.



The term electronic body music was coined by Ralf Hütter of the German electronic band Kraftwerk in 1978 to explain the more physical sound of their album The Man-Machine.[3] DAF from Germany used the term "Körpermusik" (body music) to describe their danceable electronic punk sound.[4] The term was later used in by Belgian band Front 242 in 1984 to describe the music of their EP of that year, No Comment.[5][6] Front 242 characterized their approach as falling between Throbbing Gristle and Kraftwerk.[6] Nitzer Ebb and Skinny Puppy, both influenced by DAF[7] and Cabaret Voltaire, followed soon after. Groups from this era often applied socialist realist aesthetics, with ironic intent.[8] Other prominent groups include Die Krupps,[9] à;GRUMH..., Parade Ground,[10] and A Split-Second.[11]


In the second half of the 1980s, American and Canadian music groups such as Front Line Assembly,[12] Ministry,[13], Revolting Cocks,[14] and Schnitt Acht[15] started to use typical European EBM elements. Later, they combined these elements with the roughness of American (hardcore) punk and thrash metal (cf. industrial metal). Nine Inch Nails continued the cross-pollination between EBM and rock music[16] resulting in the album Pretty Hate Machine (1989).

Meanwhile, EBM became popular in the underground club scene, particularly in Europe. In this period the most important labels were the Belgian Play It Again Sam and Antler-Subway, the German Zoth Ommog, the North American Wax Trax! and the Swedish Energy Rekords. Significant artists included And One,[17] Armageddon Dildos,[18] Bigod 20,[19] The Neon Judgement,[20] Pouppée Fabrikk, and Attrition.[21]

Between the early and the mid-1990s, many EBM artists split up, or changed their musical style, borrowing more distorted industrial elements or elements of rock or metal. The album Tyranny For You by EBM pioneers Front 242 initiated the end of the EBM epoch of the 1980s. Nitzer Ebb, one of the most important artists, also became an alternative rock band. Without the strength of its figureheads, the original electronic body music faded by the mid-1990s.


In the late 1990s and after the millennium, Swedish and German groups such as Tyske Ludder, Coinside and Spetsnaz[22] have made EBM music. In the same time period, a number of artists from the European techno scene started including more elements of EBM in their sound. This tendency grew in parallel with the emerging electroclash scene and, as that scene started to decline, a number of artists associated with it, such as The Hacker, DJ Hell,[23] Green Velvet, and Black Strobe,[24] moved towards this techno/EBM crossover style. There has been increasing convergence between this scene and the old school EBM scene. Bands and artists have remixed each other. Most notably, Terence Fixmer joined with Nitzer Ebb's Douglas McCarthy to form Fixmer/McCarthy.[25]

Derivatives and Alternative terms[edit]


Main article: Electro-industrial

Electro-industrial is an outgrowth of the EBM and industrial music that developed in the mid-1980s. While EBM has a minimal structure and clean production, electro-industrial has a deep, complex and layered sound, incorporating elements of ambient industrial. The style was pioneered by Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Ministry and Front Line Assembly. In the mid-'90s, the style spawned the dark electro and aggrotech offshoots.

Industrial dance[edit]

Industrial dance is a North American alternative term for electronic body music and electro-industrial music. Fans associated with this music scene call themselves rivetheads.

Since the mid-1980s,[26] the term "Industrial dance" has been used to describe the music of Cabaret Voltaire (early 80s),[27] early Die Krupps,[28] Portion Control,[29] The Neon Judgement,[28] Clock DVA,[30] Nitzer Ebb,[31][32] Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly,[33][34][35] Front 242,[28][32][36] Ministry (mid-80s era),[37] KMFDM,[38][39][40] Yeht Mae,[30] Leæther Strip,[41] or early Spahn Ranch.[42] In March 1989, SPIN magazine presented a two-paged article about the Industrial Dance movement in Canada and the US.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dan Sicko, Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk, Billboard Books, 1999, p. 142.
  2. ^ http://www.bodycall.net/articles/what-is-dark-electro.html
  3. ^ (2007-11-25) Klein, MJ WSKU Radio (Kent - Ohio) - Ralf Hütter - 19/06/1978 kraftwerk.technopop.com.br (retrieved on 2008-01-28)
  4. ^ Uncle Dave Lewis, D.A.F. bio, Allmusic. [1] Access date: October 7, 2008.
  5. ^ (2004-06-20) Monsoon, Jon EBM - A revolution in progress iAfrica.com (retrieved on 2007-08-03)
  6. ^ a b Ernie Rideout, interview with Front 242, Keyboard Presents the Best of the '80s, Backbeat, 2008, p. 57.
  7. ^ Ned Raggett, That Total Age review, Allmusic. [2] Access date: October 7, 2008.
  8. ^ Ned Raggett, Die Kleinen und die Bösen review, Allmusic. [3] Access date: October 7, 2008.
  9. ^ Release Magazine: Die Krupps - Too Much History
  10. ^ Huey, Steve. "((( à;GRUMH... > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  11. ^ Huey, Steve. "((( A Split Second > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  12. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "((( Front Line Assembly > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  13. ^ "... this album probably owes more to Front 242 than anything." Alan Esher, Twitch review, Allmusic. [4] Access date: March 11, 2009.
  14. ^ Jeffries, David. "((( Revolting Cocks > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  15. ^ "((( Subhuman Minds > Overview )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  16. ^ Huey, Steve (1965-05-17). "((( Nine Inch Nails > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  17. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "((( And One > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  18. ^ McDonald, Steven (1993-08-10). "((( Homicidal Dolls > Overview )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  19. ^ Bush, John. "((( Bigod 20 > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  20. ^ Huey, Steve. "((( Neon Judgement > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  21. ^ by MacKenzie Wilson. "((( Attrition > Biography )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  22. ^ Vorndran, Daniela: Spetsnaz, Reflections of Darkness: A Dark Music webzine, March 6, 2006.
  23. ^ Theakston, Rob (2002-11-26). "((( Electronicbody-Housemusic > Overview )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  24. ^ Kellman, Andy (2004-06-01). "((( Chemical Sweet Girl > Overview )))". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  25. ^ "Music | CD Reviews". Gothtronic. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  26. ^ Gail Priest: Experimental Music: Audio Explorations in Australia, p. 48, University of New South Wales Press, 2009, ISBN 1-921410-07-8
  27. ^ Holly George-Warren / Patricia Romanowski / Jon Pareles: The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, p. 140, Fireside, 2001, ISBN 0-7432-0120-5
  28. ^ a b c David Nobahkt: Suicide: No Compromise, p. 166, SAF Publishing Ltd., 2004, ISBN 0-946719-71-3
  29. ^ The Wire, Volume 269-274, p. 32, C. Parker, 2006
  30. ^ a b Rudy von Bitter Rucker / R. U. Sirius / Queen Mu: Mondo 2000: A User's Guide to the New Edge, HarperPerennial, 1992, ISBN 0-06-096928-8
  31. ^ Tony Fletcher: Hard-boiled Ebb – Interview with Nitzer Ebb, SPIN magazine, February 1992, p. 17
  32. ^ a b Christian Zingales: Electronica, p. 59, Giunti Gruppo Editoriale, 2002, ISBN 88-09-02523-7
  33. ^ David Jarman: Review of the album „Flavour of the Weak“ by Front Line Assembly, CMJ New Music Monthly, p. 50, April 1998
  34. ^ David Jarman: Review of the album „Implode“ by Front Line Assembly, CMJ New Music Monthly, p. 44, August 1999
  35. ^ Vladimir Bogdanov / Chris Woodstra / Stephen Thomas Erlewine: All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music, p. 198, Backbeat Books, 2001, ISBN 0-87930-628-9
  36. ^ Tony Fletcher: Let's Go - Lollapalooza '93, SPIN magazine, July 1993, p. 44
  37. ^ Jim DeRogatis: Milk it!: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the 90s, p. 95, Da Capo Press, 2003, ISBN 0-306-81271-1
  38. ^ Chuck Eddy: Description of the album „Naïve“ by KMFDM, SPIN magazine, July 1992, p. 71
  39. ^ Amy Sciarretto: Wax Trax! / TVT Offers KMFDM's Final Statement with „Adios“, CMJ New Music Report, p. 1, 5. April 1999
  40. ^ Amy Sciarretto: Review of the album „MDFMK“ by MDFMK, CMJ New Music Report, p. 22, 14. February 2000
  41. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/explore/style/industrial-dance-d4382
  42. ^ David Jarman: Review of the album „Beat Noir“ by Spahn Ranch, CMJ New Music Monthly, p. 51, January 1999
  43. ^ John Leland: A Dilettante's Guide to Industrial Dance Music, SPIN magazine, March 1989, p. 78

External links[edit]