Back in November, I wrote a truly nostalgic post in which I laid out my top five favourite Industrial rock tunes. It was a lot of fun to revisit a genre I hadn’t spent a lot of time with in many years and one that represented for me a specific time and place in my life. All five of the songs were released within the period between the late 80s and early 90s, a specific span of time that I consider to be that genre’s renaissance. Number three on said list was “Juke joint jezebel” by KMFDM, a single off their 1995 album, “Nihil”. It was likely their biggest ever hit but it wasn’t my introduction to the band. No. That came two years earlier with the band’s previous record, “Angst”.
My friend Tim and I were constantly sharing music with each other back in those days. We’d record the entirety of an album on the first side of a C90 cassette and fill the other side with a seemingly random selection of other music, tunes that were tickling our particular fancy at that given moment. “Light” appeared on one of these B-side mixes at some point and it made such an impression upon my teenaged self that it wasn’t long before I was requesting the whole of “Angst” on the A-side of one these cassettes.
This album was a breakout of sorts for KMFDM, who had formed in Germany almost a decade beforehand and had already released six other albums. Their cult following grew into something more when frontman Sascha Konietzko relocated to the United States in the early 90s, bringing the project along with him and attaching themselves to the burgeoning Chicago-based Industrial rock scene and the infamous Wax Trax! Records. “Angst” was the first album recorded completely in the US and involved a lot more guitars in its sound than was present their previous work.
“Light” opens the album with a faint whir, which builds in volume to an explosion of chainsaw guitars. It isn’t the thrash speeds that are heard elsewhere on “Angst”, more mid-weight heavy, restrained for mass coverage, as the song’s title suggests. Nevertheless, “Light” rocks. It never lets up for its six minute duration. A mix of relentless drum machine beats, layers upon layers of guitars and synth darkness. Frontman Konietzko, in his almost self-parodying, militant, German monster growl, lays such lyrical gems on us as: “Deify data, hard but true, Godlike nonsense being thrown at you” and “Take a good plunge and out from the masses, bend over backwards and kick some asses”. Meanwhile, Dutch vocalist Dorona Alberti adds some noir fun with backing vocal interjections, call-and-response-like at the chorus lines.
On the dance floor, “Light” is pure joy, the message and angst secondary to the moment, and at its ending, leaves you completely out of breath and ready for a new beer to refuel.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.