Ministry / Twitch / Music On Vinyl

Led by Cuban-born, Chicago-raised, Al Jourgensen, Ministry had scored a string of Synth-Pop, Alternative Dance hits. Singles rinsed at places such as Texas` Starck Club. Cold Life, Revenge, I Wanted To Tell Her, Work For Love. Resulting in the band being signed to Sire. The label`s famous co-founder Seymour Stein had visions of them being his next Depeche Mode. This, however, was not to be. Given a sizable advance and carte blanche on a producer, Jourgensen asked for ON-U Sound`s Adrian Sherwood. Adrian listened to Seymour’s offer, and was happy to oblige. For one, he could do with getting out of the Reggae “scene” for a while. Things having taken a decidedly dark turn when gunmen murdered his friend and collaborator Prince Far I on September 15, 1983. The killers remain unidentified, and there are at least two stories out there. Concerning money, and Jamaican politics. Secondly, a Pop hit wouldn’t do his bank balance any harm. Proceeds for sure would pay off existing studio bills, and buy him more time mixing his own projects. Al though wasn’t having any of it. Having been hooked on ON-U after hearing Mark Stewart’s As The Veneer Of Democracy Starts To Fade, he`d been living in African Head Charge`s hole in the ground, and wanted an album of “anarchic noise.” With recording split between Chicago, London`s Southern Studios and Hansa Ton in Berlin, the end products were more Cold War methamphetamine madness than AHC`s “psychedelic Africa.”

Twitch serves as a bridge between the “Pop” of Work For Love and where Jourgensen and Ministry were gonna go. Al had toured with Front 242, and Adrian, through his friendship with Mute`s Daniel Miller, had remixed Einstürzende Neubauten`s Yü-Gung. So neither were strangers to Industrial, or EBM. But the influence of Twitch would go on to echo for years. From New Beat to Nine Inch Nails. Its metal-on-metal microtonal vibrations can be heard in Adrian’s recent work with Japan’s Motorik marvels, Nisennenmondai. Its starting sonics landed Sherwood gigs with The Beatnigs, Cabaret Voltaire, Che, Flux Of Pink Indians, KMFDM, Pankow, Phaedra, Rinf, and Skinny Puppy. These records defining a Metal Dance. Creating a body of, as Trevor Jackson put it, Science Fiction Dancehall. Where beats are forged from sampled shotguns, sledgehammers. Automatic weapon fire. Effects units acting like anvils, smashing drum sounds, while strings are shot in from outer space. Drills and horns bring down Jericho`s walls in a proto-Techno battery of clipped, stuttering metallic percussion, Twilight Zone synths, and Jackboot kick. Like a crazed cut-up of Art Of Noise`s Beatbox. Closer and closer to the edit. Jourgensen`s satanic snarl barking big brother narratives. His imagery of plane crashes and sirens, war and canon fodder, spiked and underlined by stolen movie / TV dialogue. Calling for revolution in paramilitary tattoos and Blixa Bargeld screams. The horror accompanied by slapped, spanked, mistreated bass. 

One of two lighter moments, is All Day. A Disco of delayed handclaps, tribal tones and synthetic arpeggio. A Burundi created from collaged triggered samples. Shouts from subliminal sergeant majors, heavy breathing, and a snippet of orgasm moan. The other, Angel, despite being sung from the point of view of Lucifer, the fallen one, the morning star, the son of the dawn, is as Pop as Twitch gets. Where the hordes are mere spectres confined to the background, and a gated synth growls, ringing wet with reverb. Al spliting his personas between urban guerrilla, detailing the heartless corruption of the man, the pointlessness of the grind, and a slightly camp demonic fat cat casting souls over his shoulder. Equating religion with BDSM to a banging, twisted Yello-like Polka. Compositions crashing and burning, until Sherwood finally shreds everything. Sending shards colliding. With each other, and every surface. Trapped and tortured inside his sonic box (of tricks). This climax not just a warm-up for NIN `s March Of The Fuckheads, but also a precursor to Basic Channel`s Dub Techno masterpiece, Phylyps Track. Relentless rendering. Steel screaming, sparks flying. Machines made to howl like Jourgensen`s Id. Doing its bidding. Raising hell. 

Ministry’s Twitch has been reissued on orange wax, by Music On Vinyl. 

Reference Links

As The Veneer Of Democracy Starts To Fade

My Live In A Hole In The Ground

Front 242

Yü-Gung

New Beat

Nine Inch Nails

Nisennenmonai

Metal Dance

Science Fiction Dancehall

Beatbox

Blixa Bargeld

Yello

Phylyps Track

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