Out There

Wallowing in mud
Filth Pig
Ministry
Warner Bros. Records

The appeal of so-called industrial is the noise and nothing beyond it; it's release without any of the unnecessary tension build-up, metal without the hang-ups but just as death-obsessed, anger and angst between the ironic quotation marks. Al Jourgenson's genius is that he knows this and thrives on it: His growl is just part of the patchwork effect, distorted like any instrument until it sounds as inhuman as the overdubbed keyboards or recorded-then-sampled guitars, and finally implies its threat without ever stating it overtly.

If Ministry's a one-trick pony, each album sounding not so different from the last (Metallica record, that is), then Filth Pig at least goes one step toward broadening the dense and uninviting sound--fleshing it out to include not only metal and art-rock ("Game Show" recalls nothing so much as Moody Blues), but also the necessary breathing room that allows for acoustic guitar and piano among the electronic static and samples. And the "Lay Lady Lay" "cover" hints at a sense of self-conscious humor. Either that, or Jourgenson thinks it's the country move he's been talking about since he moved to Texas--before, of course, the cops ran him back to Chicago.

More sound than track
Heat
Various artists
Warner Bros. Records

12 Monkeys
Various artists
MCA Records

These albums represent the final phase of evolution for the pop soundtrack recording--rendering their visual counterparts all but irrelevant, mutating movie music into noise too immediate to remain in the background. They're post-classical (and post-industrial) concept albums dependent upon mood, not image, building tension to brilliant purposes.

For Heat, Moby revisits Joy Division, Einsturzende Neubauten clanks and howls to nothing more than a surging electronic pulse, Lisa Gerrard moans in another language, and Brian Eno and U2 find ambience in a dance beat; the effect is numbing, confusing, wrenching, metal machine music for a new age. But it's not contradictory like the score for 12 Monkeys, which finds room for Fats Domino and Link Wray. Here, between variations on Astor Piazzolla's "Suite Punta del Este," Louis Armstrong reasserts it's a wonderful world, then Tom Waits growls about "monkeys on a ladder" and how the "earth died screaming." It's a sound that reminds you hell's filled up, and heaven just don't want you.

--Robert Wilonsky

 
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