February 242, or 24/2 as some people write it, is International EBM Day. EBM, short for Electronic Body Music, developed in Belgium and Germany back in the eighties, combining influences from synth-punk and industrial.
The term Electronic Body Music was actually coined by Ralf Hütter of legendary electronic pioneers Kraftwerk. Later it was adopted by Belgian EBM deities Front 242 when they released their 'No Comment' EP.
So, to celebrate International EBM Day, we selected 15 of our favorite stompers. Enjoy.
We kick off with a track from from that 'No Comment' EP by genre pioneers Front 242. Their main influences were Throbbing Gristle and Kraftwerk, hence the heavy electronic sound. In 1984 'No Comment' was released. Since then, dark dancefloors all over the world embraced the pounding industrial sound of Front 242. International EBM Day is a tribute to this band, inspired by the 242 is their name. The front part of the name comes from the idea of an organized popular uprising; the number "242" was chosen because it's "just sort of a design work", like Therapy?'s question mark.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, Kraftwerk coined the term when they released 'The Man Machine'. This album, with megahits like 'Die Roboter' and 'Das Model' (or their English counterparts) is a classic and an absolute must-have in every EBM fan's collection. Although Kraftwerk invented the term, the genre quickly evolved into something harsh and intense, far away from the calm sound of these Germans. Yet, we have to respect the classics...
DAF, or Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, is a German electropunk/Neue Deutsche Welle band from Düsseldorf. They formed in 1978 and became one of the main influences for later synthpop duos like Pet Shop Boys and Soft Cell. DAF's sound was meant to be as non-American as possible, far away from rock 'n roll which was popular in those days. They used the word 'Körpermusik" to describe their style.
Another easily recognizable sound comes from Die Krupps, who started out as an EBM act before adopting distorted guitars and joining the harsh word of industrial metal. Their name comes from the Krupp dynasty, one of Germany's main industrial families before and during World War II. Along with Einsturzende Neubauten, Die Krupps inspired heaps of acts that would eventually create this vast EBM scene.
Quickly EBM began spreading over the rest of the world. In 1982, somewhere in Essex, England, Nitzer Ebb was born. Influenced by that early EBM sound, they released a heap of singles which seem to spark other genres. This one, 'Join In The Chant' became part of the Balearic scene that influenced the UK acid house scene. In recent years vocalist Douglas John McCarthy has released material in collaboration with DJ Terence Fixmer as Fixmer/McCarthy.
Of course, EBM also reached other continents. In Canada, also in 1982, Skinny Puppy formed, a band that immediately set the tone for a whole new range of EBM inspired music. With their theatrical, horror themed live shows and their energetic live performances, Skinny Puppy inspired everything from Ministry to Nine Inch Nails to Marilyn Manson to Linkin Park. Suddenly, EBM rocked again.
In 1986, Belgian duo A Split Second arrived on the scene. Their music was heavily influenced by Front 242 and colleagues but a typical Belgian mistake suddenly catapulted A Split Second into superstardom. DJ Marc Grouls played the single on 33 rpm instead of the usual 45 rpm, perhaps inspired by DJ Freddy Cousaer who years earlier had played soul and ska singles on 33 rpm, thus inventing the popcorn style. Grouls and legendary DJ Fat Ronnie invented the new beat style, which in its turn lead to countless of variations of electronic dance music.
Formed by Skinny Puppy's Bill Leeb Canadian act Front Line Assembly came to live in 1986. They quickly established themselves as one of the headliners in the scene. Their influences are as varied as the sea is deep, which sparked plenty of side projects too. Some of them include Conjure One (ambient), Decree (noise ambient) and Delirium (dance, techno, known best from their smash hit 'Silence').
German act Liaisons Dangereuses was founded by Beate Bartel and Chrislo Haas together with vocalist Krishna Goineau in 1981. They actually released only one album but that one has been immensely influential in the electronic dance music scene. According to many of the early Chicago and Detroit techno DJs, this single has been the number one reference to their entire scene.
Together with Front 242, Belgian innovators Neon Judgement have been seen as the inventors of EBM. Formed in Leuven in 1981, this duo has been incredibly popular with new wavers and goths all over the globe. They had numerous hit singles, including this classic 'TV Treated'.
Somewhere in the early to mid-eighties, Marc Verhaeghen formed The Klinik, inspired by the many EBM acts. Soon after, he started cooperating with Dirk Ivens and Eric Van Wonterghem (Absolute Body Control, Dive, Sonar, Insekt, Monolith) and Sandy Nys (The Maniacs). With EBM as their foundation, Verhaeghen and Ivens soon started expanding their sound, evolving into the dark industrial act which in its turn kickstarted a whole new underground scene.
EBM quickly sparked spin-offs, like dark industrial, hellectro or aggrotech. In 1986, Johan Van Roy recorded a first cassette under the moniker Suicide Commando. With his heavy, pummeling EBM style, he in his turn influenced a whole generation of aggrotech acts. Suicide Commando is still going strong today, regularly being one of the headliners at so-called gothic festivals.
In the nineties EBM started to influence acts in every corner of the world. In 1993 Erk Aicrag (Erik Garcia - Vocals) and Racso Agroyam (Oscar Mayorga - programming) formed Hocico. The cousins had been experimenting with electronic music since they were fifteen years old but with Hocico their preferences towards heavy EBM and industrial became clear.
American aggrotech band Combichrist formed in 2003 but as a relatively young band EBM and industrial fans immediately embraced them. The band was formed by Norwegian Andy LaPlegua, who also founded the bands Icon of Coil, Panzer AG, Scandinavian Cock and Scandy. Perhaps most remarkable, Combichrist is one of the first electronic acts that managed to play on metal festivals like Wacken Open Air.
Whaaat? LA Style? Well, yeah. In the nineties, new beat literally became the precursor for hardcore techno. Since new beat is a direct derivative of EBM, hardcore, darkcore, gabbercore and breakcore have become its descendants. What started with Front 242, Neon Judgement and Kraftwerk gradually exploded into a massive range of dance music. The Prodigy claim to have been influenced by EBM. Human Resource have been influenced by EBM. Die Antwoord have been influenced by EBM. There is absolutely no denying that Electronic Body Music is directly responsible for many of your favorite dance songs...
But of course, this is just a short list and there is many more EBM related goodness to enjoy. Now it's time for you to abuse our comment section and tell us your favorite EBM related tunes.