Sunday, January 09, 2011

FEATURE 70 - Test Dept - Total State Machine & Bang On It

Ah! in the bygone days of the eighties, when 'Industrial' ruled the musical fringes of a new world. The natives were getting ready to revolt over the Poll Tax. Test Dept were cutting and edgy then, stripped to the waste as if imitating the hard physical toil of an industrial steelworker. Their early releases,such as 'Total State Machine' from 1984 were terrifying, consisting of metal sheets being whacked by metal pipes, grossly over amplified. The resulting sound possessed all the impressive theatrical grandeur and sweaty magnificence of a Marxist state sponsored event. Though it bore tinges of homo-eroticism, it remains a predominantly masculine music, similar to Heavy Metal. I would guess female fans would be rare. It was never for the faint hearted, those with insipid or overly refined musical tastes, or anyone whose humanity had been completely drained of semen or blood.

Here by the mid-nineties they've embraced the then prevalent dance culture, its a more accessible sound, though still with the metal clashing and bashing. 'Music is a weapon of the Truth' someone intones portentously over the opening of 'Bang on it'. Though they were often too overtly political for my tastes, we need such passionate and committed people now. Where are they when you need them? Who will awaken them from sleep? They're probably drinking real ale down the pub, nursing their beer guts and grudges about the continuing parlous state of socialism.

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