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Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  186 ratings  ·  24 reviews
"Industrial" is a descriptor that fans and critics have applied to a remarkable variety of music: the oildrum pounding of Einsturzende Neubauten, the processed electronic groans of Throbbing Gristle, the drumloop clatter of Skinny Puppy, and the synthpop songcraft of VNV Nation, to name just a few. But the stylistic breadth and subcultural longevity of industrial music sug ...more
Hardcover, 361 pages
Published June 5th 2013 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published May 1st 2013)
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4.13  · 
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 ·  186 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Baal Of
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A number of reviewers have slagged this book off for being only about Throbbing Gristle and Genesis P. Orridge, at least for the first half, but that is a rather unfair and inaccurate assessment. This is a scholarly and intensely researched historical analysis of industrial music, and thus it necessarily gives substantial attention to the group that actually coined the term for modern day industrial, but does not do so to the detriment of the many dozens of other important contributors. (The aut ...more
Mary K
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Who knew Sarah Mclachlin used to be goth? I learned so much.
Other reviewers have kvetched about how this book focused too much on Throbbing Gristle, ~tarnished industrial's image~ by talking about the longstanding racism and racial segregation in the scene, and blunted its impact through engaging in academic rhetoric. I'm sympathetic with readers who find academic texts repellant--I can imagine Reed presenting this information more accessibly without compromising historical rigor, however this i
Vrinda Pendred
This book seriously frustrated me – to the point where I started it last year and only picked it up again and finished it this week.

I will preface the rest of my review by saying I grew up with industrial music. My parents had Front 242 records, they had their own band with industrial influences, they were influential DJs in the Arizona underground club scene (yes, there is such a thing) during the ‘90s, they ran their own record shop out of their bedroom so people in Arizona could get the late
Ed Erwin
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I listened to lots of Industrial music from the mid-80s to mid-90s. There were few resources (that I knew) for information about the groups and their albums. So I had little choice but to pick albums based on the artists name or even the label or distributor. This sometimes led to disappointment. Many of the associated artists changed styles from record to record (e.g. Ministry) or released similar music under different pseudonyms. So, I wish I'd had some guide like this.

It is dry and academic,
David Nesbit
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book front to back. Now with that in mind keep in mind I am a music obsessive. If you are a casual fan of the genre this book may not be for you.
On the other hand if you want to learn not just about the history of industrial music, but also want to learn about it's musical and artistic precursors this is the book for you. It covers tape music, surrealist art, the fluxus movement and dadaism, all of them crucial to the genre's initial formation.
The book is remarkably wel
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
I now know more than I ever knew, and likely also more than I ever wanted to or needed to know about the historical and political background of industrial music.

And, quite frankly, this book was not any favorite of mine for several reasons:

First of all it felt slightly unbalanced, given that the first 150 pages of a 300 page book more or less focused only on the band Throbbing Gristle (which I don't really like) and Genesis P-Orridge (whom I don't really know and after this intensive deep dive d
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, history
Even if you are not a fan of Industrial Music, Reed's treatment of music,art, and culture in the last half of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century will offer an insightful and compelling read. However, if you are even a casual fan of Industrial Music this book is a must read.
Mills College Library
781.64809 R326 2013
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I found it uneven, but it is a must-read for even the most neophyte-ish listeners of “industrial” music. Came of age in the 90s so I loved Nine Inch Nails but then dove into Coil, Front 242, Skinny Puppy (especially Too Dark Park) and then later into Throbbing Gristle, SPK (via Lustmord), and Nurse With Wound.

Felt the book was at its strongest in the chronicling of the moments – the first wave of what would become industrial music (which is largely experimental music that would somet
Benjamin Manglos
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the better contemporary books about music I've read, particularly concerning an "alternative" musical genre. It still suffers from a bit of the excessive politicizing that blights most contemporary music criticism, but at least it's done with atypical nuance (although the ultimate conclusion that industrial music needs to diversify it's appeal to survive rather than acknowledging that it might simply be an outdated form of expression comes off as simplistic and utopian). What I found most ...more
Thomas Hale
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most enjoyable and in-depth books about music I've ever read. Reed's knowledge, empathy and critical insight sizzle throughout, and for a book that can get quite heavy in its subject matter, it's always readable and fun. I learned an enormous amount, about music I already was familiar with and about artists I'd never heard of. The ongoing conversations within "industrial music" and its fans are laid out with respect and excitement in equal measure. Reed draws on a litany of cultural i ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: industrial
An excellent book about an excellent musical genre. This book doesn't go for the usual straightforward storytelling, but instead offers also a sociological and a politological anlaysis on the subject. A must for those interested in the dark side of electronics, and those who enjoy the historic-sociologic focus in social sciences.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Consistently thought provoking and informative- well worth the read for any 'beginner' or 'jaded enthusiast'.
Aris Tsoumis
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
a very detailed, albeit bit theoretical review of various styles of industrial music. Many great music references.
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Some good history here, and it doesn't dwell on Throbbing Gristle as much as you would think, but the tone is very dry, bordering on dull in places.
Micah Stupak
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In the long-running discussion of genre and its merits, one always hears breathless claims of "it's so good, even people who aren't fans of noise/film noir/paranormal young adult/arcane sexual practices/sandwiches will like it!" So we'll get that out of the way now: this is a book about a genre of music, so, therefore, it would most likely appeal to fans of that genre of music (in this case, industrial). If you're interested in that type of music, though, why wouldn't you be interested in readin ...more
Apr 05, 2014 rated it liked it
This book had a lot of potential discussing the older days of industrial when it was a series of cut-ups and occult techniques, picked up steam into the 80s, and then I lost real interest because it just went straight to a heavy dose of white guilt that just seemed shoehorned in. I understand it's important to discuss the role of race in a critical studies book but after that section it got derailed and focused on EBM and the only other part that really got my attention was the Skinny Puppy sect ...more
Josh Bunting
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
This is not light reading. I really felt like I should have to answer discussion questions after each chapter. You should be serious about industrial music to take this on.

I only wish it were a little more critical than it was. I felt like Reed sort of hand-waved away accusations of fascism bands like Death in June get.
Derek Pennycuff
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
I really really wanted to like this book. But it suffers far too much for its academic origins. I read once that Straftanz arrived at their band name when one of the members observed that going out dancing in the local scene felt like a punishment. Reading this felt like a punishment. I hope Reed got tenure out of it.
Jon Weidler
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Illuminating, captivating, and entertaining. Also made me feel like an utter n00b toward a musical genre I've been listening to since 1995. The book takes an academic approach to its subject, but remains accessible and intelligent throughout.
John Eriksen
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
Very highly recommended for fans of industrial music and hard-edged or dark electronic music. A tremendously inspiring read. I wish I could forget that I have ever read this book for the pleasure of reading it again.
Adam Williams
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
finally, a definitive - or as near as it could be - look at industrial music, from someone who actually knows what they are talking about.
Ebm Dj
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing book. IF you enjoy industrial music, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. Its great from page one till the end.
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“The reason for this extended look at Covenant’s song is that it typifies a postmillennial approach to the sublime in industrial music. The sublime exposes the limits of one’s perception by markedly exceeding them. Classically, the human response to the sublime is a blend of awe and terror. The discussion here isn’t whether listening to this music actually produces sublime experiences; such encounters likely depend more on the listener than on the music. Instead, the point here is that the sublime as a topic is an important one to industrial music; as an act of revealing heretofore unknown limits by exceeding them, we might understand it as dérive, or even as shock, and certainly as part of the industrial legacy.” 0 likes
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