The words form a veil
Alphabets of twisted letters
In the fervent underbelly of Hungary’s industrial music scene, there’s an ethos of self-transformation that’s almost surgical in its precision. The artists within this realm are not averse to introspection, often recalibrating their approach to blur and transcend genre confines, or to engage in a dialectic of deconstruction and creation within their sonic environment.
This latest offering, New Horizion: A Hungarian Electro-Industrial Compilation, comprises seventeen tracks that are emblematic of the genre’s robust and unyielding nature. The music delivers with an industrial precision, each track shaped with a more refined finish, yielding an auditory experience that is stark and unrelenting—setting a new benchmark for the country’s vibrant but often distorted cultural legacy.
The lyrics to Planetdamage’s EXOCOMM depict a futuristic scenario where advanced technology intertwines with human experience, symbolized by “EXOCOMM.” Born from a statistically improbable marriage of Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles and a long discussion with an AI about the most probable characteristics of both extraterrestrial and AI languages, this song is about what happens when a language not of this Earth gains sentience and moves hosts through cities to infest more minds. A pervasive “virus” spreads through language, altering perception and reality. This virus, a metaphor for influential ideas or tech, is part of the narrator’s design, suggesting intentional dissemination. Communication evolves beyond current understanding, driven by “somatic” and “neural engineers,” hinting at a blend of the organic and the artificial. The song is delivered via spooky robotic-sounding vocoder, making its message all the more alarming.
“Would have said cyberpunk earlier, but we’ve been living it for a time now, so let’s just stick with “disgruntled electro- industrial about the unevenly distributed future…now with 25% more psytrance and breakbeat, quip Planetdamage.
In the realm of industrial rhythm, Stahlgeist marks its territory with the kind of beat that propels bodies into motion, reminiscent of the pulse found in classic tracks from pioneers like Skinny Puppy and Nitzer Ebb. Crafted by István Gazdag and Tamás Bank, veterans of the EBM scene, the project is a distillation of a thirty-year friendship steeped in the genre’s austere traditions. The duo, drawing inspiration from a theatrical piece by Simon Stockhausen, invokes with their music a collective potency—a celebration of the industrial narrative: the sinew and the labor, the nocturnal toil, and the catharsis found in the collective dance. This is not just sound but a physical manifesto, a rally to the rhythm of industry itself.
Reinfection’s Collapse offers an instrumental homage to the titans of industrial sound, integrating the spectral distortion and complex percussion that evokes the genre’s golden age. With a nod to the likes of Fad Gadget and Skinny Puppy, the album interlaces the ethereal with the otherworldly through its synth work. Samples from news broadcasts lend a disquieting realism, creating a soundscape that is both cryptic and disconcerting.
“This song was inspired by the economic, social, and war events taking place in the world,” the band explains. “We are moving closer and
closer towards some kind of moral collapse, with a burning match next to the fuse.”
The lyrics to Japanese Phoenix by Tenno Pop explore a tension between a longing for freedom and a sense of entrapment within a ‘monstrous fantasy.’ The juxtaposition of vivid spring imagery with the desire to remember and generate love suggests a struggle between hope and reality. The repeated questioning of life and freedom underlines a yearning for liberation.
Kristof Selmeci and Balazs Bence established Tenno Pop in 2010 as a genre-defying collective, deeply entrenched in the underground music scene. Their explorations delve into the origins, collective consciousness, and the very essence of what constitutes the universal language of music.
“We started working on the track back in 2011, inspired by the events in Fukushima,” says the band. “The concept was to try to organically mix various traditional Japanese instruments with modern electronics and an industrial sound. All of this was enhanced with special sound effects from Noh and Kabuki theater, and we added a couple of sacred festival and ceremonial song motifs. The texts are recorded by Bence and Basho Matsuo (1644-1694).”
“Neither the ‘present’ nor the passage of time can be defined as a property. These can only be expressed by the meaning of words. Only the meaning can be used to refer to the volatility of the present and the inexorable passage of time,” says GRIP about their frenetic EBM single Számolj!. “However, it can be defined as a relation. Existence is the question. Existence is at stake in this case as well. An earlier event can affect a later one. In other words, only one domain of the past can affect one domain of the future. But if this is so, then both the past and the future exists, since if there is something in the past that affects, and there is something in the future that is being affected, then both the past and the future exists. This is the very thing we have to experience in our everyday lives.”
Zsolt Gyarmathy (CyberBob) and vocalist Simon Tibor, who hail from the Viharsarok region, are versatile veteran musicians often teaming up, such as in the synthpop band Syntax Error and now in the post-punk revival band kékmandarin.
Invoking the disquieting spirit of industrial forebears like Skinny Puppy, the track Forint by Empelde x Planetdamage sets to music the harsh realities of schoolyard bullying, allegorically mapping this to the tribulations of Hungary’s currency. In this narrative, the forint becomes a beleaguered character, beleaguered by external pressures and internal failings, ensnared in an economic maelstrom of speculation and devaluation. The song emerges against a backdrop of opaque financial machinations and the mercurial nature of media narratives surrounding fiscal policy, inflation, and fluctuating exchange rates. The tone of the track captures a collective frustration and sympathy, recognizing the pervasive impact of the forint’s volatility on the everyday lives of citizens, not just those with wanderlust.
Next, 3.N.D. comes through with the powerful, blistering Victims of Ourselves, which angrily rails against greed at the expense of quality of life. Channeling Front Line Assembly and Fad Gadget, this critique is best blared at full volume during the hangry hour of your work day.
“The song focuses on the city, moving to its inhabitants to take you where you don’t want to be: wallowing in the swamp of loneliness, greed,
indifference and hatred, from which there is no way out, because there are no conclusions, let alone self-reflection, only the unpleasant but at least familiar embrace of the familiar overall crap,” says the band. “We tried to collect in 4×4 rows why we are the victims of courselves who expect someone’s gonna solve our problems, their problems, for ourselves. Which evidently gave way to the second chorus twisted into a question: “will the problems be solved by someone else?”
There are minimal lyrics in the following EBM track from MAN+MACHINE, Kill Me Though, but they pack an emotional wallop.
“I wanted to evoke a moment like a bitter, yet hopeful morning when I find myself at a factory site on the outskirts of the city,” says the artist. “And in the background of this moment, not only as music, but also as an aesthetic, the industrial techno sound is intertwined with EBM elements and some bluesy things, which I hope together create the atmosphere that I wanted to bring to this song.”
There is a strong anti-war sentiment coming through in Worker’s Ordits!. Disgust for suffering transcends language, as the clanging military beat emulates marching soldiers. The inspiration came from the 1976 film Network, as Howard Beale ranted on-air “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” It’s a song about finding the strength to take initiative to make change, and to encourage others to follow suit.
The next track takes a strong detour to the seedy world of sexual domination in Celina’s steamy Hurt You More. In this track, a commanding female presence takes center stage, her allure framed by the clandestine and the forbidden. Behind closed doors, she embodies the seductive force that draws you in. The sounds are rich with deep bass and raw electronic strokes, encapsulating the essence of temptation turned to sin. There’s an invigorating beat that compels movement, inviting the listener on a transgressive journey. Here, the listener submits to a guiding mistress, who navigates a landscape of pleasure and discomfort with a deft hand. Celina, known in the circuits as Cyberqueen, encapsulates what the pulse of electronic punk aspires to be. Her toolkit—a synthesis of raw synthesizers and the grandeur of science fiction—transforms her tracks into odysseys, inviting listeners to embark on aural voyages that stretch beyond the customary frontiers of music.
Returning to the firm ground of industrial rhythm, RTFXX’s Wretched Sorry State serves as a sonic rally against authoritarianism. This offshoot of Planetdamage brandishes a lexicon of rebellion, crafting an indelible narrative of defiance. The urgency of escape and the shadow of surveillance are at the fore, echoing a modern cyberpunk sensibility. The track’s pulse is a digital heartbeat, its inspiration drawn from the omnipresence of artificial intelligence in our lives.
A kérdés by CMC narrates the solemn journey of a Wanderer who understands the fate of a dying city. As he stands on a mountain, he observes the remnants of humanity fading in a radioactive wasteland. The final chorus shatters against the rocks as silence screams, and the world ends not with a bang, but with a whimper under the quiet storm clouds of judgement. Formed by György Szász, Vince Kósa and the late Zoltán Szántó,
CMC (Cro-Magnon’s Coke) is a legendary industrial band of the 80’s, revived in 2019 with new members Csaba Gáspár and Barnabás Horváth.
In its latest incarnation, Vacuum(x), István Gazdag’s solo venture, remains true to the incendiary essence that marked its inception alongside István Drimál. This embodiment revives the stark, unyielding ethos of early electronic body music, channeling the raw, unapologetic spirit of the ’80s…and George Orwell.
“The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.” (George Orwell)
Lázadj! (EBM verzió) serves as a clarion call to those hemmed in by unseen shackles, urging a defiant uprising. Through the metaphor of a beleaguered butterfly, it summons a collective awakening to the imperative of liberation, championing the fight for autonomy and the dire need to reclaim one’s place in the world before the window of opportunity slams shut.
TieF Lärm, the nom de guerre of Tibor Feldmann, operates as a one-man electronic bastion, blending EBM with industrial flare. His track “Portrészobor” presents a stark tableau of creation—bass lines both peculiar and abrasive lay the groundwork for dark melodic constructions. It’s a narrative of endurance, of becoming a spectacle frozen in strain, a faceless visage sculpted from clay, defined by raw and purposeful etchings. This process, a meditative unfolding on the workbench, suggests a bust emerging amidst contemporary terror. A face takes shape—less a face than a grimace—hands working, smearing what might be taken for charm into the clay, only for the finished work to be imprisoned behind glass, its tension forever caught in stasis.
LivingTotem is next with their pounding instrumental number, Clear Dynamics. “This was previously unreleased song that I took and geometrically reworked live to give you another gloriously faster and shorter version,” says the artist. “A post-apocalyptic raging ecstasy with a cleansing force.” LivingTotem presents an improvisational foray into the realm of music, one that disregards the usual formalities and linguistic limits. It is an exploration—a chiaroscuro blend of primal cadences and the relentless pulse of industrial vibrations.
Following this is CALM T’s expansive anti-industrial anthem, In Symbiosis With Evil. The song reflects the struggle of living in a toxic environment, both literal and metaphorical, where industrial decay and societal corruption are suffocating. It speaks to the resignation and resilience required to endure in a world that is indifferent to suffering, where survival means coexisting with the very elements that oppress and attempt to crush the spirit.
“We know at times that we could do more but we have to live in symbiosis with evil, as sometimes that little must be done to take us forward and maybe strengthen us, because this is just how the world is,” the band concludes.
Last…but certainly not least, is the minimalist instrumental composition evoking Fad Gadget once again, the brain-busting, robotic DATA1 by ARAS FOCUM. The band describes the sound as “Always against the flow, capturing and layering energy without the intention of owning the vibrations. Sound sensation of vibrations spreading as mechanical waves.”
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