IV. Music 1966-1974
By Michael Casano
With the advent of the Moog synthesizer in the 1960’s, the face of music began to change. As the decade progressed, more synthesizers were developed by different companies. As the technology developed, the availability of these instruments increased. The studio recording process also became more of an art form as albums became more conceptualized and well crafted. The use of found sounds, multi-layered tracks, an increase in expertise with the recording technology, and the willingness to explore the darker side of the human psyche, lyrically, became more apparent. Lyrics began to get as much attention as sound, and sound began to be explored in a less commercial manner. The psychedelic movement offered the freedom to express oneself in an unabashedly lysergic manner. The sixties also introduced a predilection for loud guitars and brashness that opened the doors for other forms of music to follow.
In this article, I will highlight a list of key albums from 1966-1974. Some of these bands had no direct influence on industrial music and might lead the reader to question their inclusion. Others might question certain exclusions. However in the context of originality, experimentation, and innovation, in my opinion these were the albums that boldly ventured into new territory and set the tone for future musical excursions.
At the end of this article a brief introduction to some of the writers who left their mark on the industrial music scene will be included. These writers explored themes such as sexuality, pharmacology, and the use and abuse of technology. Using their language and storytelling skills, these writers influenced generations of lyricists.
In 1966, the release of two important albums occurred: Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys and Freak Out! by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. With Brian Wilson’s studio masterpiece, Pet Sounds offered a level of compositional maturity rarely seen in what was, essentially, a commercially successful band. Prior to this album, the Beach Boys hardly presented to the public a willingness to experiment with exotic instruments, studio effects, and a more somber approach to the lyrical content of their songs. It cannot be stated enough that releasing this album was a risky venture, for the Beach Boys commercial appeal corresponded with a pleasant sound and puppy love beach songs. The strain of this musical venture perhaps was the catalyst that pushed Brian Wilson toward a nervous breakdown. In contrast, Freak Out! by The Mothers of Invention was an album that came from nowhere, with no pressure of financial success to contend with. It did not make the impact that it should have at the time of its release, probably due to its experimental nature. Frank Zappa was a true visionary, an excellent musician and composer, and someone familiar with the worlds of classical music as well as jazz. Out of all the albums discussed in this article, this is one of the most important musical statements ever made and was a catalyst for the alternative music scene. Its innovative spirit over the years has been recognized and its influence cannot be ignored.
In 1967, The Beatles released Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Magical Mystery Tour albums. Though not quite as an extreme departure in terms of musical direction as Pet Sounds, these albums pointed the Beatles in a more introspective direction as the band members seemed more willing to wrestle with their personal demons and pursue their musical interests. These albums were innovative in that they took the polished pop song to a higher level of creativity and blended many different musical styles into one comprehensive whole. Also released in 1967 was the Velvet Underground’s Velvet Underground and Nico and White Light/White Heat albums. The bleak lyrics of Lou Reed explored topics such as S&M and drug addiction. This bleakness combined with John Cale’s compositional proficiency brought about an interesting chemistry that influenced many bands since. Other influential albums of 1967 were Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, The Doors self-titled album, The Mothers of Invention’s Absolutely Free, and Captain Beefheart’s Safe As Milk.
1968 saw The Beatles White Album further illustrate the demise of a band that under the strain of commercial success began to unwind. More an album of solo efforts as opposed to a united band approach, creatively it was an Herculean effort and can certainly be counted as one of their best albums. The sonic experiments grew weirder, the darker songs grew darker. This downward spiral assured its influential status. 1968 also offered Arthur Brown’s The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. As the self-proclaimed God of Hellfire, this album carried such an odd code of conduct that it made Syd Barrett’s music seem only slightly eccentric. Though over the years it has cultivated a limited cult appeal, it is a highly creative and innovative album that is beginning to receive the attention that it deserves. The Mothers of Invention’s We’re Only In It For The Money was also released that year.
Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica was one of the most experimental albums released in 1969. Abrasive and bizarre, the complexity of the compositions along with the inclusion of various musical genres made this one of the most influential albums listed in this article. The last great Beatles’ album, Abbey Road, was also released that year. Other albums include Led Zeppelin’s first two albums, King Crimson’s In The Court Of The Crimson King, Can’s Monster Movie, The Stooges self-titled album, and Amon Duul II’s Phallus Dei.
1970 introduced to the music listening public the sledgehammer guitar riffs of Black Sabbath’s debut self-titled album. This album pointed the way for Black Sabbath’s upcoming releases and is certainly one of metal’s early influences. Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs also released that year remains a harrowing solo effort documenting the mental collapse of this brilliant artist. Syd’s influence was huge and his absence from Pink Floyd was a void that, other than sporadically, was never filled. Other albums of note released in 1970 was Amon Duul II’s Yeti, Can’s Soundtracks, The Stooges’ Fun House, and King Crimson’s In The Wake Of Poseidon.
Black Sabbath released two albums in 1971: Paranoid and Master Of Reality. Both influenced greatly the future of metal with their gloom and doom aesthetic, guitar riffs weighed down with lead, and lyrics obsessed with social decay, war, drugs, and the occult. Also released that year was Faust’s self-titled debut. Laced with tape loops, found sounds, and an edgy atmosphere, this album offered a unique musical voice that influenced many trends within the electronic music genre. Also released in 1971 were seminal albums such as Hawkwind’s In Search Of Space, Brainticket’s Cottonwood Hill, Can’s Tago Mago, Amon Duul II’s Tanz der Lemminge, and Pink Floyd’s Meddle.
Neu!’s self-titled debut album in 1972 was way ahead of its time, influencing bands such as Joy Division/New Order and countless scores of industrial bands with its driving rhythms, fades, and random noise. Other 1972 albums of note were Black Sabbath’s Volume 4, Can’s Ege Bamyasi, Faust’s Faust So Far, and Brainticket’s Psychonaut.
In 1973 Brian Eno and Robert Fripp released No Pussyfooting. This album introduced Frippertronics, an innovative tape looping method developed by Fripp. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, King Crimson’s Lark’s Tongues In Aspic, Neu!’s Neu! 2, The Stooges’ Raw Power, Can’s Future Days, Faust’s Faust Tapes and Faust IV were other albums released in 1973.
In 1974 Brian Eno released two of his most influential albums: Here Come The Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy. These albums ‘remain essential listening, anticipating as they do so many of rock’s future obsessions. Punk, goth, and industrial musical forms can all trace their lineage through these seminal albums’ (Thompson, p.34, 1994). King Crimson’s Starless And Bible Black and Red albums were also released that year, as well as Kraftwerk’s Autobahn and The Residents’ Meet The Residents.
Industrial music has had many different musical influences in its development. Some more of these genres will be explored in the next article: punk, goth, synth, dub, and metal. I will also highlight certain film directors that brought about an industrial aesthetic to their vision. An introduction to early industrial bands such as Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire will also be in order.
In closing, I would like to briefly introduce some 20th century literary figures that certainly infiltrated the industrial scene. The novels of William S. Burroughs were highly influential.
Novels such as Naked Lunch (1959), Nova Express (1964), The Soft Machine (1966), and The Ticket That Exploded (1967) are all recommended. Also recommended are these novels by J.G. Ballard: Crash (1973), Concrete Island (1974), and High Rise (1975). The Cyber-Punk movement, led by William Gibson, was a by-product of science fiction and pop culture. Some recommended William Gibson novels are Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988).
Thompson, Dave, Industrial Revolution, 1994, Cleopatra
Copyright, May 2002, Michael Casano