Aktionskunst And Primitivism
By Alexander Nym
Almost unknown to everyone not involved with the West-coast experimental-/post-industrial scene, CRASH WORSHIP (or Adoration De Rotura Violenta, as they called themselves in Spanish) is one of those groups whose cult status looms over its actual period of existence. Allegedly founded as an experimental studio outfit by Markus Wolff and Simon Cheffins in San Diego in 1987, CW soon discovered an all-round artistic hands-on-approach to create more than mere music. Their enthusiasm to produce stickers, posters, and a startling variety of unusual articles (even daggers, according to Wolff, who’d go on to found WALDTEUFEL, an occult/norse-inspired project to explore his German roots) was also reflected in their legendary live shows: besides a powerful array of DIY-drumsets, distorted bass, industrial vocals and weird electronics, audiences found themselves actively involved in the shows when band members would rush through the crowd, spraying spectators with water, cream, wine, honey and, according to certain sources, sometimes blood, urine and other substances. The shows regularly mutated into quasi-dionysian orgies with half-naked people dancing themselves into a trance to the hypnotic tribal drumming reminiscent of masters of the genre like the post-industrial heroes of the MILITIA and TEST DEPT. brand.
The recordings featured here (dating from the two European tours in 1995/96, shortly before the band split and performed their last shows alongside the legendary MASTER MUSICIANS OF JOUJOUKA) are a lively demonstration of the raw, primal power of their stage presence: the drummers spouting their throbbing percussion rhythms into ears and brains while performance-art live-actions including nudity and pyrotechnics induce orgiastic intensity and sensual liberation, at once psychedelically enlightening while (re)creating vents for our more “primitive” human urges; the drive towards communal ecstasy channelled into highly energized get-togethers of psychick youth.
While the few surviving studio recordings suffer from the general lack of context and thus intensity (a problem most studio recordings of “ritual” music seem to share), the treasure of these documentations of collective frenzy and the diffusion of the artist/audience barrier lie in the persistence of the working principle of ecstasy, paralleling and simultaneously mocking the very same principles prominent in the Techno movement of the same era, taking it even further than the contemporary trance-inducing electronica: Most of what’s to be heard here, in spite of being chaotic, frantic and purposefully over the top, is handmade music; a crude ceremony celebrating forgotten cults and long ignored caverns of (sub?)consciousness, perhaps striking one as primitive, but nevertheless constituting a valid access to brain circuits seldom activated. The power invoked by CRASH WORSHIP stands as a tall example of post-industrial performance art as opposed to the degenerate knob-pushing and laptop-bashing of the tame noisicians boring the art form of contemporary industrial music to its well-deserved death.
Alexander Nym (Schillerndes Dunkel | Orgonautic | Ploettner Verlag) | Leipzig, Germany, September 2010