Electronic Body Music (EBM) is a music genre that combines post-industrial music, electronic dance music and 'synthpunk'. It first came to prominence in Belgium in the late 1970s. 'Pure' electronic body music is referred to as 'old-school EBM' and should not be confused with 'aggrotech', 'dark electro' or 'industrial' music styles. The genre's early influences came from 'industrial music' from Throbbing Gristle, Chrome, Cabaret Voltaire, European synthpunk acts DAF, Liaisons Dangereuses, Portion Control and electronic music from Kraftwerk.
The term 'electronic body music' was coined in 1978 by Ralf Hütter of the German electronic band Kraftwerk to explain the more physical sound of their album The Man-Machine; DAF, from Germany, used the term "Körpermusik" (body music) to describe the danceable electronic punk sound. The term emerged again in 1984, once again in Belgium, by band Front 242 to describe the music of their just released EP, 'No Comment'. Front 242 described their style as falling between Throbbing Gristle and Kraftwerk. Nitzer Ebb and Skinny Puppy, both influenced by DAF and Cabaret Voltaire, followed soon after. Groups from this era often expressed lyrics of socialist and realist ideals, often with ironic intent. Other prominent groups include Die Krupps, Parade Ground and A Split-Second.
In the second half of the 1980s, American and Canadian music groups: Front Line Assembly, Ministry and Schnitt Acht started to use European EBM styles. It was not long before Revolting Cocks combined these past styles with American style industrial rock/heavy metal when a new generation of EBM was born. Nine Inch Nails continued the crossover, resulting in their album Pretty Hate Machine (1989). As EBM became popular in the underground European club scene, labels began to sell the music.
Between the early and the mid-1990s, many EBM artists split up, or changed their musical style, borrowing more distorted industrial elements or elements of rock or heavy metal. The album Tyranny For You by Front 242 signaled the end of the EBM movement that dominated the style during the 1980s. Nitzer Ebb, thought as an important supporter, changed into a basic industrial rock band. Without the strength of its figureheads, the original style died.
From the late 1990s to now, Swedish and German groups such as Tyske Ludder, Coinside and Spetsnaz have given EBM a resurgence. During this time the electroclash movement came to a short rise in Europe, but as it faded it left many bands orphaned to start including elements of EBM in their music. The bands: The Hacker, DJ Hell, Green Velvet, and Black Strobe, moved towards this techno/EBM crossover style. Today there has been an increasing convergence between this scene and the old school EBM scene. Bands and artists have remixed each other, most notably: Terence Fixmer who joined with Nitzer Ebb's Douglas McCarthy to form Fixmer/McCarthy.
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