The Last Attempt at Paradise: Early Industrial Culture in Kansas

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Issue Date
2022-03
Authors
Connor, Francis X.
Advisor
Citation

Connor, F.X. (2022). The Last Attempt at Paradise: Early Industrial Culture in Kansas. In: Whittaker, J., Potter, E. (eds) Bodies, Noise and Power in Industrial Music. Pop Music, Culture and Identity. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-92462-1_7

Abstract

When SPK toured the United States in 1982, they played in Lawrence, Kansas, perhaps as an excuse to visit William S. Burroughs. The show was recorded and released on a local indie label as SPK emphasized the grotesqueries of the body, with images of deformed and mutilated bodies adorning their album art (including ). Their inclusion of these bodies was to question conventional standards of beauty, display the physicality of mental disorders, and to shock people. Further, the white noise and screams that permeated their live shows offered similar provocations-tellingly, they referred to their concerts as "assaults." In his essay included in the cassette, local musician Marc Burch understood SPK's performance as "a catalyst in the approaching revolution." SPK's performance and Burch's essay are the catalyst for this chapter, which considers how Kansan musicians used the genre as a form of relating to and resisting a state that had become shorthand for American Values, despite the proliferation of military bases and nuclear arsenals. Drawing from Burroughs' cut-ups and first-wave industrial bands, many Kansan experimental artists used noise-and-tape loops to undermine perceptions of Kansas as the American Heartland. Bands like Schloss Tegal closely followed SPK's model, focusing on provocative topics like serial killers and aliens, others used industrial to engage in issues such as mental health (Short-Term Memory) and life in a nuclear age (The Buckthrusters). Appropriating some of the creative philosophies of SPK, Kansan industrial artists filtered these through regional concerns, creating a new viewpoint in industrial.

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