Wednesday, 11 May 2016

SPK - Leichenschrei (1982)

As much as I love Throbbing Gristle, and can't imagine life without their records, I always feel like they'd peaked by 1979 (I realise I've previously posted a 1980 soundtrack by them, but that's a special case!).  It was around this time that SPK were working away on the other side of the world to progress from some interesting post-punk-noise early singles to  recording two albums that took the original archetype of industrial music to  its highest watermark.  The first, Information Overload Unit, was a vicious  blast of electronic nihilism, and the second, presented here for your listening..er...pleasure, broadened the palette to produce one of most nightmarish records ever made.

Leichenschrei (corpse scream) was originally released without track titles, each LP side simply being named 'Lysso' (rabid) and 'Klono' (presumably a reference to the tranquiliser klonopin).  The first nine tracks on the album that were originally ran together as 'Lysso' show right from the start that the baton has been grabbed from TG, with Genetic Transmission sounding exactly like Hamburger Lady but even more disturbing, with echoing vocals about death and decay.  From there, the subject matter just gets darker and darker, taking in autopsies, napalm, and the paranoid delusions of a psychiatric patient.  Contemporaneous with Einstürzende Neubauten's early recordings, shards of metal percussion fly around everywhere, ending in a punishing lock-groove at the end of the Lysso side (or Chamber Music on the tracked version).

The five longer tracks on the Klono side sound closer to where the post-industrial scene was going to go, nudging towards EBM territory but never compromising the oppressive, suffocating atmosphere of the whole album.  As per the well-worn Dante quote that frequently crops up in online reviews of Leichenschrei, abandon hope all ye who enter here.

I've included two versions of the album in this download (in the same zip file). One of these is the straight 14-track CD version. In the other, I've tried to replicate something closer to the vinyl experience by taking out the individual track splits (apart from the break in the album sides), and I've looped the lock groove for a couple of minutes.  Just for maximum...enjoyment. Or something.
CD reissue cover

2 comments:

  1. I don't remember exactly how it came about, but I heard SPK before TG. I'd never heard anything quite like it and I liked it! So I visited all the record stores in town until finally a newly opened 'hole-in-wall' used records shop, just a few blocks away [selling his own collection to get the store going], even knew what I was talking about. He ordered both the SPK and TG's 'Third Report'. The rest is listening history. Thanks.

    -Brian

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    1. My initiation into the industrial world was a feature in a magazine called Record Collector - January 1995 issue IIRC. TG, SPK, Non, Cabaret Voltaire... started me on a long journey of appreciating the power of sound beyond just melodic music.

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