Monday, March 4, 2013

Top 13 Songs by Attrition


There was a time when I would eagerly devour any and all industrial/EBM/synth-pop that I came across.  If asked why I fell out of that scene, I'd be lying if I said it all traced back to anything but boredom.  The electro-rock scene carries a disproportionate amount of redundancy, and for every innovative group like Skinny Puppy,  Android Lust, or Front 242, there are a hundred clone bands with no imagination.  While it could be argued that there's blandness and derivation in all genres, when the core element of the music is programmed sound I find it DOUBLY boring.  Come on, guys.  If all you're gonna do is push buttons, at least twist some knobs while you're at it.

It's been five years since I deliberately walked into an industrial club.  The souvenirs I've kept from that phase of my life are the bands who create an atmosphere that I love and can't find anywhere else.  High, high on that list is the Coventry band Attrition.  I discovered them on a sampler from Projekt Records back in 1997, and I don't think I could give them up if I tried.

Attrition has been the artistic vehicle of Martin Bowes since the early '80s.  With it, he's created a sound that's simultaneously avante-garde and seductively accessible, experimental with a classical sensibility.  When live instruments are introduced, they're employed with the light touch of a true composer.  He doesn't seem in the least bit interested in writing anything commercial, but now and then his experiments turn out to be danceable as fuck.  Also, unlike the usual industrial screeds about war, pollution, religion, and suicide, Martin's lyrics are subtle, classy, and deliciously surreal.  They're delivered in a low growl and counter-balanced with a high female echo, the same trick that's been working for Leonard Cohen for decades.

If I had to define Attrition's atmosphere with one word, it would be haunting.  And I'm more than happy to let those ghosts live in my head.

No musical love letter is complete without a mixtape,  so on that note, I'll leave you with my thirteen favorite Attrition tracks (in no particular order).  Sorry I couldn't find videos for all of them.

Thin Red Line

Fusillade III (Both Barrels)

Shotgun Dream

Acid Tongue

To the Devil!

Two Gods...Are Better Than One

Waste Not Want...More

My Friend is Golden

A Girl Called Harmony

Haydn (or Mine) 12"

White Men Talk

Death Truck

The Head of Gabriel

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