Nachtmahr: Beware of the empty, vitreous and fascist BwO

Posted by Aspasia Stephanou on December 04, 2009 in Blog tagged with

Nachtmahr: Beware of the empty, vitreous and fascist BwO

The Stage: Two lap tops in each corner, two performers dressed in military attire and combat boots. One is wearing a white mask, the other one has the typical haircut of a nazi youth. The screen at the back introduces the band as “Imperial, Austrian, Industrial.” The slogan will be repeated through the concert along with images of the Nazi invasion of Russia, quotations by Chomsky, Steinbeck, Huxley on the one hand and John Knittel (writer and supporter of the Nazi regime) and Amelie Nothomb (her great-grandfather was a right wing politician and writer)on the other hand. While in big letters the audience reads “War is not the answer”, the shocking images of victims of war and Nazi atrocities call for a certain kind of response.

The meÏŸÏŸage: Electronic Body Music and Industrial bands have always flirted with right wing, fascistic symbols but in a different way than punk bands have incorporated in the late seventies swastikas and other totalitarian insignia, replaying the Dadaists shocking and nihilistic tactics (Hebdige reads this as a desire to shock) . Laibach have managed to confuse their audiences, but their agenda is specific. Shock is created, but politics is there underneath the surface. Feindflung, Agonoize, Suicide Commando, Noisuf-X, X-Fusion, Front Line Assembly are among the EBM bands that are becoming more and more sympathetic among the gothic subculture’s circles. Specifically Nachtmahr and Feindflung play with German/Nazi symbols rendering them empty and meaningless. If speed, according to the high priest of speed, Virilio, has changed the way humanity responds to the accelerating speed of modern technological life and leads to the subject’s dehumanization, what is one supposed to say about music produced by technology without any mediation of human agency? If Nachtmahr and so many other bands’ music depend on computers and technology, speeding up neural ability and threatening consciousness and bodily abilities, where is the moral agency to understand and respond to the flickering images of nazi victims and the fast-paced electronic beats that blast the sense of reality? If the sensation of fast beats, at times resembling “industrial” military marches, capture the modern subject through the momentary excitement of digitalized entertainment, this resembles no pleasurable activity, but a controlled productive process. Thomas Rainer (Nachtmahr’s front man who has been involved in a couple of other bands) becomes the industrial master, the factory’s director who during the live show points to the screen. The audience needs to be reminded of the message War is not the answer, followed by Nazi aeroplanes flying over fields with dead corpses.

The Audience: Although being a fan of different styles of music, I find the band’s politics controversial and confusing. I believe the band is part of the gothic subculture’s diverse musical interests, but I find it difficult to answer the question often asked: Is this gothic music? And if it is, then what can we say about black metal music that sounds more gothic or evokes the atmospheres of the gothic:

Tiny URL for this post: