Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music

For #TBT (Throwback Thursday), here is a book review from 2013 for S. Alexandar Reed's book Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music. Enjoy!

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Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music by S. Alexander Reed

Originally Conducted by Gabrielle Faust for Gothic Beauty Magazine

Rarely does an academic analysis of a societal or artistic genre carry with it the profoundly mesmerizing impact of the subject matter itself, so much so that the reader feels as if they are experiencing it, once again, for the very first time. In historical music critique it is easy to become bogged down by the scientific dissection of the songs themselves within the construct of music theory, and the chronological order of bands and their individual contributions through the catalog of their releases. With Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music, author S. Alexander Reed reminds us that all artistic movements have roots far more expansive than simply their current form—from philosophical movements to literary experimentations that altered the perception of an entire generation and the social climate in countries around the world, music is not simply about the music. Music is about humanity. And in the case of industrial music, it is about the deconstruction of the very structure of society and its hold over us.

The passion, sophistication and keen intellect with which Reed writes is awe-inspiring. From the Italian Futurism movement of the early 1900’s to William Burroughs’s beatnik “cut-up” literary experimentation, Assimilate traces the ancestry of one of the most aggressive and politically-fuelled genres back to the essence of modern revolutionaries. The insights and connections Reed draws in building a historical platform to explain the mindset of industrial music’s mission to “strip away the brainwashing that was identity itself” are thrilling. Indeed, whether you are a fan of industrial music or not, your perception of the world will be forever altered after reading this book.

For those who are more interested in a pure historical exploration of the contributing bands, Reed also does a fantastic job in chronicling the rise and evolution of the genre from Throbbing Gristle of the 1970’s to modern-day mainstreamed Nine Inch Nails. In the beginning of the book Reed actually invites those uninterested in the more philosophical aspects of the genre to skip ahead, but I highly recommend that you read the book in its entirety. As aforementioned, this book is revolutionary in and of its self and will inspire even the most hardcore loyalist to even higher states of fandom. Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music is a superb triumph in academic music literature.

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