Electro (collective name)

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Development phase: late 1980s / early 1990s
Place of origin: Western Europe / North America
Stylistic precursors
Electronic Body Music · Post-Industrial · Electro Wave · Synthie Pop
Instruments typical of the genre
Synthesizer · Sampler · Sequencer · E-Drum · Music software
Dark Electro · Electro-Industrial · Hardcore Electro
Other influencing factors
IDM · Drum and Bass · Trip-Hop · Hardstyle

Electro , also known as electro , is a collective term for different styles of music that developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s mainly from parts of electronic body music and European and North American post-industrial music.

With the music, the electro scene emerged, which organized itself through its own events (machine open air, electro meeting etc.), labels (e.g. Zoth Ommog, Off Beat, Metropolis) and print media ( New Life , Bodystyler , Vertigo ) .

Electro as a collective name is not to be equated with the music style Electro , the origin of which goes back primarily to Afro-American roots (see Funk ).



The constant development of new and affordable instruments (especially synthesizers , samplers and sequencers ) formed the basis for a number of innovative trends in electronic music in the mid-1980s , which, due to their diversity, hardly seemed tangible. Quite a few compositions were arranged in a much more brutal way , which is due not least to the use of voice-distorting effect devices, which greatly alienated the vocalists' singing . Some genres, some of which are hardly present any more, which started on this basis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, were subsequently grouped under the names Dark Electro , Hardcore Electro and Electro-Industrial . In the same decade, these three styles promoted the development of a fourth style strongly influenced by techno , the so-called Aggrotech (also known as Hellectro ).

Since there was initially no need to consciously separate these styles from one another, Electro soon established itself as a collective name in the early 1990s. In addition, the musical spectrum of projects such as Leæther Strip , X Marks the Pedwalk , Plastic Noise Experience , Cat Rapes Dog , Birmingham 6 , Evils Toy , Abscess , Decoded Feedback , Forma Tadre and In Strict Confidence was difficult to reduce , so that - e.g. for the musical stylistic description of North American formations such as Skinny Puppy , Mentallo & The Fixer , Index and Velvet Acid Christ or for European projects such as : Wumpscut: - Occasional makeshift names such as Splatter Electro or Endzeit-Electro were used. This period, which lasted through the first half of the 1990s, is considered to be a multifaceted epoch after the end of the EBM era in Europe.

In the mid-1990s, influences from the IDM and electronica environment emerged. Artists who occasionally used elements from these areas compositionally or musically fused almost entirely with these genres were Lassigue Bendthaus , Haujobb , Gridlock , Individual Totem and Pulse Legion .

Change and stagnation

At the same time, the manufacturers began elektrophoner amplified sound generator so that their attention to the popular genres of electronic dance music such as techno , house or Goa Trance be addressed, and to establish specially developed synthesizer on the market. Some of the first synthesizers that shaped the techno / dance culture in the years to come were the Nord Lead from Clavia (1995), the CS1x from Yamaha (1996), and the MC-303 Groovebox and JP-8000 from Roland (1996/1997). This equipment was soon also used in the electro scene, with the result that established electro acts increasingly approached the techno movement stylistically, including Funker Vogt , who used the techno components of the Yamaha CS1x, and Decoded Feedback that processed the trance sounds of the Roland MC-303. The increased use of these synthesizers caused the genres Future Pop and Aggrotech to emerge in the second half of the 1990s . The sustained popularity and consolidation of both styles gradually led to stagnation and also pushed the original varieties of electro out of the light of the public, which had a particularly negative effect on the pioneers of the electro scene.

“More and more electro bands are approaching commercial climes, playing more and more with […] dance and […] techno influences. In addition, the flood of publications in the electrical field is increasing rapidly and the level is falling. Is the electro scene about to overkill? "

- Marc Simon 'Masi' Kriegs, musician and music journalist, summer 2000

Genre-specific breakdown

Although the transitions between the varieties are fluid (e.g. Mortal Constraint , Plastic Noise Experience ,: Wumpscut: or Allied Vision , which can be assigned to several styles due to their influences and forms of expression) and some of the bands move along As time has changed stylistically, some basic features can be worked out in a simplifying way, which enable a definition of three subgenres. These genres were grouped under the titles Dark Electro , Hardcore Electro and Electro-Industrial in the 1990s .

Dark Electro

Dark Electro refers to a style based on electronic body music and under the influence of international post-industrial formations such as Skinny Puppy and The Klinik , the tonal focus of which is on gloomy, partially multi-layered pad sounds and electronically alienated vocals. Danceability takes on a subordinate position here. The use of guttural singing (especially Grunting and screaming ) can similarities to simultaneously emerging black metal - Revival clearly are - but a rather random commonality.

The main representative was yelworC from Munich, which split shortly after their 1992 debut album "Brainstorming". Internal project differences brought the long-term cooperation to a standstill. The solo project amGod emerged from the separation , with which Dominik van Reich alias Oliver Büttner consistently continued the typical yelworC sound. The style established itself at the same time with the help of other publications by groups such as Placebo Effect, Trial or Mortal Constraint and was represented by acts such as Seven Trees, Ice Ages and Tri-State until the turn of the millennium.

Significant representatives:

amGod , Arcana Obscura , Disharmony , Ice Ages , Mortal Constraint , Placebo Effect , Seven Trees , Splatter Squall , Trial , Tri-State , yelworC

Hardcore electro

Hardcore Electro emerged from the general tendency to add harsh percussion and distortion effects to danceable, EBM-structured songs . Rhythm traces, sequences as well as speaking and screaming were accordingly heavily alienated electronically. The genre was mainly characterized by rawness and harshness, but it did not reach the atmosphere of dark electro , which is usually perceived as dark . As regards phonetic intensify occasionally came rhythm guitars - samples (as for example in projects such as Klutæ or Psychopomps.) Are used.

The style was used in the 1990s a. a. for the music of Leæther Strip , after mastermind Claus Larsen broke away from his EBM roots with the mini LP "Science for the Satanic Citizen" and drifted into far more brutal realms. Despite being mentioned several times in music magazines such as Zone , New Life , Side Line , Glasnost or Sub Line , the term Hardcore Electro was not able to establish itself across the board.

Significant representatives:

Absent Minded , Allied Vision , Controlled Fusion (early works), Funker Vogt (early works), Klutæ , Leather Strip , Network Access , NVMPH , Plastic Noise Experience (early works), Psychopomps (early works), Second Disease , : Wumpscut: (early works)


Electro-industrial is a genre that, with its strong roots in the rhythmic terrain of post-industrial music ( Blackhouse , Esplendor Geométrico ), combines monotonous, machine-like rhythm patterns with distorted vocal lines. The vocals are mostly electronically alienated, mostly screamed or spoken. The style is characterized by danceability and minimalist structures, texts are often used sparingly or only serve as background music, for example by repeating individual words.

Dirk Ivens (Dive) commented on this as follows:

“With Dive I would like to go back to the beginnings of electronic music, to a time when there were no samplers. It's hard music, very rhythmic with a strong beat. With Dive I want to realize maximum music with a minimum of equipment. It should be honest, direct music. "

- Dirk Ivens, 1991

In addition to Dive (formerly The Klinik ), Suicide Commando was one of the best-known representatives in the 1990s, before both projects went other ways and newer acts such as Pierrepoint, Stin Scatzor or Infact continued the style.

Significant representatives:

Cyberthreat , Dive , Infact , Mimic Mind , Pierrepoint (middle phase), Stin Scatzor , Suicide Commando (early works)

In North America, the expression Electro-Industrial is primarily associated with the music of Skinny Puppy , Numb , Front Line Assembly , Yeht Mae , Mentallo & The Fixer , Fektion Fekler , Spahn Ranch and national, stylistically comparable groups such as Putrefy Factor 7 . The term established itself there at the beginning of the 1990s, presumably independently of the European definition, and gradually replaced the term industrial dance , which had been widespread up until then .

Technoid imprinted derivatives

Aggrotech or Hellectro

Johan van Roy (Suicide Commando)

At the end of the 1990s, a new style gradually crystallized out, primarily shaped by acts such as Funker Vogt , Suicide Commando , Hocico and : Wumpscut: who were initially based in the areas of hardcore electro and electro-industrial .

A significant characteristic of the style is the strong influence of techno / trance music (e.g. the 3xOsc sound ). Specifically, for Hardstyle typical SuperSaw -Leads that with the synthesizer Roland JP-8000 trance music were introduced to the dance /, form one of the basic attributes of this style. Characteristic are beyond hi-hats and fast, dancing stressed rhythms in 4/4-time. There are hardly any complex and syncopated rhythm patterns, and a straight and distorted bass drum is often used . As the use of an electronically distorted Scream or howler song is in the aforementioned electro genres usual, the tracks are almost exclusively for the dance floor designed whereby atmospheric pad sounds (as especially in the Dark Electro prevail) recede into the background. For this aggressive and technoid-shaped variety, the term Aggrotech was found in the English-speaking world . In Germany, however, titles such as Hellectro or Brachial Electro are common.

Even if this style had developed into the predominant variety in the black scene at times , there was still a tonal spectrum whose atypical representatives only occasionally represented the Aggrotech . In some varieties, for example, less distorted elements that are closer to techno are used. Like Future Pop and Electronica, Aggrotech led to a further musical opening of the scene.

Significant representatives:

Agonoize , Combichrist , Funker Vogt , God Module , Grendel , Hocico , Amduscia , Nachtmahr , [: SITD:] , Suicide Commando (late works)

Well-known record companies

  • Accession Records
  • Alfa Matrix
  • Broken Seal
  • Celtic Circle Productions
  • Cleopatra
  • Consequence Records
  • COP International
  • Cyberware Productions
  • Dependent
  • DSBP
  • Electric Blue
  • Energy records
  • Hard records
  • Hypnobeat
  • Infacted Recordings
  • Machinery
  • Machine world
  • Metropolis
  • NoiTekk
  • NovaTekk
  • Off beat
  • Out of line
  • Pendragon
  • ProNoize
  • scanner
  • Simbiose Records
  • Van Richter
  • Zoth Ommog

Print media

  • Black Monday (US)
  • Bodystyler (D)
  • Crewzine (SK)
  • Culture Shock (US)
  • Dissonance (US)
  • Electronic Disease (D)
  • Engine (BR)
  • GEAR Magazine (US)
  • In Perpetual Motion (US)
  • Industrial Nation (US)
  • Infectious Substance (US)
  • Interface (US)
  • NRG. (D)
  • Neurostyle (D)
  • New Life (CH / D)
  • Permission (US)
  • Revotnik (D)
  • Side-Line (B)
  • Surface (D)
  • Terra Industria (US)
  • Under the Flag (B)
  • Vertigo (D)
  • Voltage (US)
  • Zone (D)

Notes on the genre name

In the 1980s, the term “techno” was generally used to summarize various types of electronic music styles. In 1983, for example, a Kraftwerk album called “Techno Pop” was to appear (re-recorded three years later and released as “Electric Café”), followed by compilations such as “Technopolis” and “Electronic Techno Music”, and record labels such as Techno Drome International came into being called.

When House , Detroit Techno and New Beat laid the foundations for techno of the 1990s (initially called Techno House ), no one suspected the boom it would soon experience. To separate the two directions, a differentiation was made between techno (for the original electro ) and tekkno (for the newly created techno house ), but this did not bring the desired success. As early as 1992, the term Electro became established , replaced the old term Techno and gradually established itself as a collective term.

Many music projects in the electro environment try to describe themselves as very creative. Not infrequently they use additional terms such as industrial or noise . In most cases, however, their music has little to do with these styles (see Industrial and Noise ).


In the early 1990s, the electro scene in Europe essentially emerged from EBM , post-industrial and electro-wave cultures. Subsequent generations have increasingly existed within the black scene since the late 1990s . The martial appearance of the EBM movement was only partially adopted. There are overlaps with techno culture , which is now a visible influencing factor. Many relatives combine the different clothing styles, while others stick to the original subcultural characteristics.

Frequently worn items of clothing are stretch tops made of black lycra, worker shirts and simple band shirts, mostly combined with black pocket pants, bondage pants, jeans or leatherette pants. Shirts or jackets made of polyester are also common. Boots are usually worn as footwear, e.g. B. Rangers , Dr. Martens , Shellys, undercover or underground shoes.

In the English-speaking area, on the other hand, there is a youth culture based on cyberpunk , for example the Rivethead culture in Canada and the United States .

Individual evidence

  1. Synrise database: CS1x / pol syn 885 (1996) ( Memento from February 19, 2002 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Masi Kriegs, Sonic Seducer , July / August 2000, page 20
  3. Mirco Dannemann: Arcana Obscura - Delusion , New Life Soundmagazine, Edition 6/95, p. 36, June 1995
  4. Gift Kultur- und Sound-Magazin: Leæther Strip - Solitary Confinement , Issue 6, p. 20, June 1992
  5. Glasnost Wave magazine: Leæther Strip - Serenade for the Dead , Issue 43, p. 32, September 1994
  6. Oliver Köble: Interview with the German band Plastic Noise Experience , issue 27, p. 19, May 1991
  7. Side Line music magazine: Plastic Noise Experience - Live in Freiburg's Cräsh , issue 5, p. 23, March 1992
  8. Zone Music Magazine: Plastic Noise Experience - Gold , Issue 15, p. 21, May 1992
  9. Sub Line music magazine: Plastic Noise Experience - String of Ice , advertisement for the record company KK Records, issue 4/93, p. 24, April 1993
  10. ^ Zone music magazine: Psychopomps - Assassins DK United , Issue 15, p. 20, May 1992
  11. ^ Bernhard Klumb: Psychopomps - Pro-Death Ravers , Sub Line Musikmagazin, issue 7/8/93, p. 49, July / August 1993
  12. Torben Schmidt: The DK Gang of Terror Techno , New Life Soundmagazine, issue 4/94, p. 32, April 1994
  13. Zillo Musikmagazin :: Wumpscut: - A new age in German hardcore electro history , issue 9/95, p. 44, September 1995
  14. Oliver Schütte: Welcome to the Funeral Diner , New Life Soundmagazine, Edition 2/95, p. 20, February 1995
  15. a b c Hakan Ehrnst: Interview with the Belgian electro-industrial formation Dive , issue 26, p. 7, March / April 1991
  16. Glasnost Wave magazine: Dive - Debut , Issue 21, p. 31, May 1990
  17. ^ Side Line Music Magazine: Dive - Images , Issue 9, p. 29, July 1993
  18. Side Line Music Magazine: Stin Scatzor - MG & F. , Issue 9, p. 46, July 1993
  19. ^ Marvin York: Dive - First Album , Sub Line Musikmagazin, Issue 9/10, p. 48, September / October 1992
  20. Tobias Küchen: Interview with the Belgian band Dive , Glasnost Wave magazine, issue 39, p. 10, September 1993
  21. Side Line Music Magazine: Stin Scatzor / Notstandskomitee - Suicide Invasion , Issue 9, p. 47, July 1993
  22. Marc Keithan: Putrefy Factor 7 - Total Mind Collapse , Vertigo Musikmagazin, Issue 8, p. 61, winter 1994