a;GRUMH – “We Are a;GRUMH… And You Are Not!” (1988)

By the time We Are a;GRUMH… And You Are Not! was released in 1988 Belgium’s a;GRUMH already had a half dozen albums under their belts, a sort of second generation industrial band that moved the needle toward a more mainstream version of IDM. Mind you, this probably would have blown my mind back in 1988 as I wouldn’t have had anything to compare it too outside of maybe Skinny Puppy due to my allergy at the time to any type of electronic music, so please don’t think the above is any kind of insult. Because it’s not. Because We Are a;GRUMH… And You Are Not! is hardly mainstream.

It’s easy to play the “this sounds like [fill in the blank]” game, sometimes even more so when your experience with certain subgenres is limited, like mine is with industrial. So let’s just say there are punk elements to the vocals on We Are a;GRUMH… And You Are Not!, but ultimately the greatest similarities are with the first generation of experimental industrial bands and Skinny Puppy. The delivery on the cover of “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” is pure Marilyn Manson… but of course a handful of years before Manson put out his first record. My guess is that the guys from a;GRUMH would hate what I wrote above, given that their liner notes make it clear that they’ve attempted to purge any potential musical influences from their style, closing out a paragraph-long liner note rant with “…we are not like any other so-called ‘band’, but also that WE ARE a;GRUMH… AND YOU ARE NOT.”

The B side is quite dark, opening with a track simply entitled “Kill”, followed by “Drama in the Subway”, a song about a woman who was raped and murdered on the subway whose plight another subway rider was actively trying to ignore, a veery Kitty Genovese murder kind of thing. “Hapeople” keeps the trend going with its anti-authority, anti-contemporary-society message:

Don’t ever say grace again,
It is infamous and dotty.
Endoctrinement of the masses,
Shape of selfishness.

Definitely a cool record. I’ll need to keep my eyes open for some of their earlier stuff.