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White noise, also known as cyber-punk and post-industrial, emerged out of the postpunk movement in the early 1980s. Its artists were dedicated to the exploration of new sound clusters not traditionally viewed as "musical" in nature; this credo, combined with lyrics often inclined toward social commentary, reflects a pronounced anti-establishment stance. Still, many of the genre's prime exponents have gone on to achieve some measure of commercial success. This has not been the result of aesthetic compromise, but rather because the mainstream has incorporated elements from the genre's canon over time.

The white noise movement has produced a spin-off style, industrial dance, an abrasive music exhibiting pronounced rhythms suited for aggressive, free-form dancing. Industrial dance would rival house music as the leading dance music genres of the 1980s. House music--developed at the Warehouse, a club serving Chicago's black gay culture, by deejay Frankie Knuckles--was a mixture of speedy disco beats and latin, Philly, Salsoul, and African recordings. It combined a deep drum and bass sound with heavy reverb and urban and jungle sound effects.

When house was exported to London in the mid-1980s, deejays there began adding spaced out grooves and samples of TV chatter and other media. This hypnotic, pyschedelic variation of the Chicago style was named "acid house" by British underground music taste-maker Genesis P-Orridge.

A fad in the English pop music scene of the late 1980s, acid house combined with techno to spawn all-night psychedelic dance parties called raves. The scene, typically fueled by the mildly hallucinogenic stimulant Ecstasy, had made its way to the American West Coast by the early 1990s. Record companies took note of this phenomenon and began signing--and promoting--techno artists; by the mid-1990s the genre had entered the pop music mainstream.


Top Artists and Their Recordings

White Noise

The Boo Radleys--Giant Steps (1993); C'mon Kinds (1993)

Dinosaur, Jr.--You're Living All Over Me (1987); Bug (1989); Green Mind (1991); Whatever Cool With Me (1993)

Godflesh--Streetcleaner (1989)

Laibach--Life Is Life (1989)

Sonic Youth--Sonic Youth EP (1982); Confusion Is Sex (1983; Sonic Death: Sonic Youth Live (1984); Bad Moon Rising (1985); Evol (1986); Sister (1987); Daydream Nation (1988); Goo (1990); Dirty (1992)

Industrial Dance

Hilt--Call the Ambulence Before I Hurt Myself (1989)

Keith LeBlanc--Stranger Than Fiction (1989)

Skinny Puppy--Bites and Remission (1984); Cleanse Fold and Manipulate (1987); Rabies (1989); Too Dark Park (1990)

House/Acid House/Techno-Rave

808 State--Newbuild EP (1988); Quadrastate EP (1989); Utd. State 90 (1990); Ex:el (1991); Gorgeous (1993)

KLF--Chill Out (1990); The White Room (1991)

The Orb--Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1990); U.F. Orb (1992); Live 93 (1993); Pomme Fritz (1994); Orbus Terrarum (1995)

Orbital--Snivelization (1996); The Middle of Nowhere (1999)