What Is Cyberpunk Music? Or more appropriately, What music is Cyberpunk? By Billy Biggs ae687@freenet.carleton.ca

Many repetitive threads have gone through alt.cyberpunk asking the question: What is Cyberpunk Music? The answer is not simple. Due to the fact that every defenition of cyberpunk can be argued to the point of non- existence, trying to define a genre of music is not a simple task. I would like to say that all opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the entire population, or even close. They are my opinions and you may write your own if you want to. This article is far from being finished. I only grazed the surface of a few bands, not even going into great detail. I expect to expand. If you have any submissions or suggestions, email me.


To me, the closest thing out there to a "Cyberpunk" group is probably Front Line Assembly. The sound is a mix of techno-like beats, ?interesting? lyrics and added samples. Their 'tactical NEURAL IMPLANT' CD I would consider extremely cp in nature. {Taken from 'Mindphaser' A war of technology Threatens to ignite Digital murder The language of machines } The Mindphaser video is excellent. A mixture of high-tech weponery, computer animation, japanese writing, Cybertech and mech-like machinery used to create an extremely cyberpunk atmosphere. Bill Leeb & Rhys Fulber, also in groups Intermix, Will, Delerium, Noise Unit and Fear Factory (I think), are due to release a new FLA CD in Feb. this year (as in, next month). Expect a more detailed review of FLA [if you can write one, please do] regarding their works and the relation they have to cyberpunk and cp themes.

[Front 242]

The british Electronic Body Music group is commonly considered cyberpunk. The sound is a mix of noise, sounds, samples, synths and dancy beats. Described (by MuchMusic) as being a mix between Kraftwerk & DAF. The music is extremely electronic, busy (it's best to hear on CD, you almost need the sound quality with 06:21:03:11 UP EVIL) and alternative. Front is not a mainstream group, although rumor has it that they are trying to change that (good or bad?). With their latest release, 05:22:09:12 OFF, Front 242 has added a female vocalist (99 Kowalski). Rumor has it that Front is creating a new album combining the vocals of J-L De Meyer, Richard 23 and Christine 99 Kowalski to create a much different sound. The F242 video for 'Quite Unusual' has been considered cyberpunk. Other videos by Front are a bit more mainstream (Rhythm of Time was strange, images of a spinning ball with knives sticking out of it, a cyborg head, J-L D. M. singing and a mouse in a cage. CP?) yet it's more the industrial sound that sets Front 242 away from other groups.


Interestingly enough, I don't ever recall Kraftwerk being mentioned as Cyberpunk. The group to me is like a couple of german guys with a synth. The sound is synth music. Pretty much just synths, drums and vocals. It's not bad, if you like that kind of stuff (I do, but it's pretty weird).


An interesting group with much attention on the net. The sound is samples. Yup, lots of samples. Samples, electric guitar and drums. Innovative idea, lots of satire. "soaked in an acid bath of irony" I can't really give too much of an opinion, since I only own the negativconcertland CD, but I was impressed by what I have heard. Their latest release, FREE, is suposed to be a good listen. Keyboard magazine, in a review of FREE, said: "The fact that Negativland, like John Oswald, has taken sample pastiche to a high level of expressive power doesn't settle the question of whether lifting samples from records is legally or morally defensible. But FREE does remind us that strict copyright protection comes at a cost - the suffocation of musicians denied the kind of access they need to express themselves through this idiom." Much discussion has occured in alt.cp conserning a law suit against Negativland by Island records about a 30 second sample of a U2 song. Questions of copyrights and related issues that don't belong in this article but that are worthy of discussion elsewhere have arisen because of Negativland.

[Billy Idol]

With his CYBERPUNK CD, Billy Idol has entered himself into the world of cp, and the world of internet [idol@well.sf.ca.us]. His CD is for people who listen to that kind of music. Idol was right on a few notes, but I'm sure he got alot of hate mail through his Internet account. {Taken from 'Wasteland' In VR land The future of fun Tell me what to do In VR law Computer Crime Um, so sublime A Fantasy scene In my machine } Whether or not his lirycs are cyberpunk, or if his attitude is cyberpunk, or if he has read Gibson, or if he knows what he's talking about are subjects that have recieved alot of attention. There are cyberpunks [?] who like what Idol has done and who like his music. I'm not going to say he isn't cyberpunk. If there are people who listen to it, maybe it is.


[NOTICE: This list is INCOMPLETE] Other groups considered cyberpunk by some would be some assorted EBM groups, Industrial music, Ministry, Pet Shop Boys, Information Society, Electrik Music, Art of Noise, Devo?, U2 (Zoo TV?), Pink Floyd, Chemlab, etc etc etc etc etc "- In the end, real cyberpunks listen to whatever the fuck they want."