With this 2013 reissue of Palladium, Old Europa Cafe brings us a clear reminder of how much modern industrial music owes to Autopsia. If we were to be anal about it and map out an ancestral tree, the band whose home has variously been the Former Yugoslavia, the UK, and the Czech Republic would sit firmly at the base of roots to martial industrial, but their influence is much broader than that.
The CD essentially re-releases two separate Autopsia efforts onto one disc: the first, Palladium, was first released in 1989 on Hyperion Records, and again in 1995 on Germany’s Hypnobeat. The second, Factory Rituals, appears to have been originally released in 1989, though the first record that I can find is a self-release by the band in 2008 on their own Illuminating Technologies imprint. The full album is only partially present on this reissue.
To labor my point about the roots of martial industrial, opener ‘Trotz und Hingabe’ sounds like it could have been lifted straight from an Arditi or Toroidh album, or any other band of their ilk. I don’t mean to sound too dismissive of the genre, but to be honest, I lost interest in the style some years ago largely due to its unoriginality. ‘Trotz und Hingabe’ was recorded over a decade before any of these bands released their first albums, and the sampling and looping methods were of course also tape based.
I can’t help but think Autopsia were also an early precursor to the pride in European heritage–or the longing for an idealised European past–that features so prominently in contemporary martial, neofolk, and industrial music. In a very direct, concrete fashion, much of the band’s primary source material was classical music, that most Western of 20th Century musical traditions. The band’s visual aesthetic also draws heavily from nationalistic imagery and propagandist art, alongside images evoking the Industrial Revolution and mass production. Parallels between the band’s modus operandi–extraction, sampling, recontextualisation–and the industrial manufacturing to which the artwork refers, may have been unintentional or purposely ironic, but are as clear as day today with the benefit of hindsight.
The tracks on Palladium have been lovingly crafted mostly from short, looped orchestral samples. They are mostly impressionistic in nature, with the individual samples rarely in step with each other. Rather, they drift in and out of each other’s paths in a rather sparse manner, providing a surreal, dreamlike quality. The mood alternates between romanticism and brute strength.
The second album presented on the CD is Factory Rituals, most of which, it seems, was recorded in 1989. The four tracks are essentially just what it says on the box. Samples are again at the core of each track, but are more choral and devotional in nature. They sit easily alongside factory-inspired sounds and metallic explorations. Some of the tracks are introspective and meditative while others are rapturous and grandiose. According to the liner notes, ‘Hymn II’ was in fact recorded in 1982, putting it way ahead of its time, and during the time of Autopsia’s early experiments.
For this release, the original material was re-engineered and re-mastered in 2013, bringing a freshness and clarity that greatly benefits the music. In a field ridden with banal imitators, it’s nice to be listening to one of the true originators.
01) Trotz und Hingabe
02) Abfall und Aufsteig
03) Das Gesetz des Tages und Leidenschaft zur Nacht
04) Der Reichtum des Vielen und das Eine
05) Factory Ritual 2
06) Factory Ritual 5
07) Hymn II
08) Factory Ritual 7