The Future is Happening Already: Industrial Music, Dystopia and the Aesthetic of the Machine — A PhD thesis final draft from Karen Collins at the Institute of Popular Music.
A few words:
“This thesis represents the first comprehensive overview of a genre of Western popular music known as industrial. It asks the questions, ‘What is industrial music, who creates and listens to it and why: what does it mean to its producers and audience, and what do they believe in? How is the music mediated and disseminated? What does the music communicate, and how does it communicate this meaning?”
In exploring these questions, the thesis uses industrial to develop a methodological investigation into genre in general, asking what might be learned from a detailed interdisciplinary approach to the process of communication within the limits of a genre. Systematic methods involving a variety of approaches were undertaken. These methods included content analysis, hermeneutics, semiotics, an internet questionnaire, interviews, reception tests, a case study with Swedish industrial band Project-X, participation and participant observation in Canada and England from 1999 to 2002.
The results of the study show that, in reception tests, both fans of the music and those unfamiliar with the paramusical elements of the industrial genre have similar connotative responses. Nevertheless, the interpretation of those connotations differed, even to the point of being diametrical. The thesis uses the term ‘supplementary connotations’ for this additional level of meaning, suggesting that familiarity with a genre guides an audience towards a text’s deeper meanings and values. The research shows that industrial has specific signifiers which help to situate the music in a distinctly dystopian setting.
In exploring industrial, therefore, the thesis also introduces musical representations of dystopia and Hell; in particular, the use of mechanical motifs as a critique of rationalisation in the twentieth century. The thesis then suggests industrial music draws on this long tradition of apocalyptic notions to express in particular an alienation from, and critique of, late capitalism.”