KMFDM comments

Sigh. At some point, I think I’m going to paint myself into a corner with these blog entries, or (and is more likely) just completely embarrass myself into quitting writing them. At the moment, I’m going to really go out on a limb for this one, and see if it breaks.

Back around 1996 I started working for Hitachi in Dallas, and one of the engineers there liked to do everything at “11” (one of the few people I know who could crack a mountain bike frame bunny hopping street curbs riding to and from the office in rush hour traffic). He liked extreme music, so I felt compelled to ask for recommendations. To start me out gently, he suggested KMFDM and Rammstein (both of which I liked, but I only got one or two CDs each at the time, and nothing since then). One of the albums I picked up was Money. I don’t have it any more, and haven’t listened to anything by KMFDM in years. Recently, I was thinking that there really wasn’t anything outstanding synth-wise on Money, so I could ignore it.

(Image from amazon, used for review purposes only.)

Yeah, well…
I’d gotten on youtube and I was looking up an old Osman Brothers song – Crazy Horses – and I noticed that KMFDM had done a cover of it. So now of course I had to start sampling KMFDM, and that took me to WTF?! (2011). So, ok, yeah, there’s synth work ALL OVER THE PLACE HERE.

I should have remembered that, given that KMFDM is a German industrial band. They started as a performance art project in 1984, and had a rotating line-up up to 1999, when they broke up. The band reformed in 2002 with a mostly new line-up. The music, though is heavy band industrial, and uses a variety of synth effects, vocoding and samples. Which brings me to my current point – as a synthesizer student, if you work your way up in time from the early music of the 50’s and 60’s to the 90’s and later, all the distinctions start to blur. Especially when you get into Trance, Techno, House and Industrial, where the emphasis is on danceable beats, machine-like sounds, and lyrics that are actually sung instead of rapped or spoken (i.e – Kraftwerk). Composition is all about the song, which becomes all about the performance, and that is all about the message. For KMFDM, the message has strong social and political overtones, as evidenced by album titles like Angst, Money, WTF!? and Nihil.

Again, when the focus is on the music, trying to isolate out specific synth effects, beyond filter envelopes and sampling, becomes almost impossible. But, as a synth student, this is probably where you should be aiming for. Either way, I just like listening to KMFDM, so I recommend them as driving music. (They aren’t quite as good for background when trying to type up blog entries, though…)

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