Skip to main content

EBM: 10 classic tracks picked by the DJs that play them

EBM has been having a major influence on techno recently, but many of the DJs playing/producing the sound still utilise the genre’s classic tracks in their sets. Below, 10 DJs who play electronic body music choose their favourite classic EBM tracks...

The unstoppable influence of EBM has been clear to see recently.

The term EBM (electronic body music) was first coined by Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk when talking about 'Die Mensch-Maschine' in 1978 to describe the album's more physical sound. However, the EBM movement truly started in the early '80s through artists such as Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb, their first recordings forming early manifestos for the genre.

It gained wider recognition throughout the decade, predominantly in Belgium - alongside the new beat scene - and Germany, with seminal bands including A Split-Second, Signal Aout 42, Klinik and D.A.F. raising the popularity of EBM globally.

Towards the end of the decade, its raw machine sounds, abrasive rhythms and driving basslines would play a huge part as a precursor for techno. But by the early '90s, EBM in its original form had all but disappeared, eclipsed by the acid house revolution, with most of its original torch-bearers either disbanded or moved on to other forms of music - many such as Lassigue Bendthaus and Bigod 20 moving into making techno.

Below, DJs now returning techno to its roots and weaving the sound into their sets choose their favourite classic EBM cuts.

Helena Hauff picks...

Front 242
‘Operating Tracks’
New Dance

“It’s a very obvious choice but ‘Geography’ is still one of my favourite albums of all time.”

Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb picks...

Nizter Ebb
‘Hearts and Minds’
Geffen Records

“I always liked Flood’s remixes of Nitzer Ebb stuff, ‘Hearts & Minds’ and ‘Control’ still sound exciting and fresh today.”

Phase Fatale picks...

The Klinik
‘Hours & Hours’
Antler Records

“It is one of the most essential and original EBM songs out of Belgium. I love the rawness and filthiness of it.”

Alessandro Adriani picks...

Front 242
'Commando Remix'
Red Rhino Europe

“I can’t pick anything other than 242. This sounds like you're in the middle of a war in a fucking jungle with bombs falling everywhere. You hear voices and drums and noises. The way they perform it live is amazing. The bassline starts quiet, then after three or four minutes of percussion and noises and voices the digital bassline kicks in!”

Elena Colombi picks...

“I won't pick a “classic”, there's so many great articles and compilations out there covering this. Instead I'll share something I think deserved more attention.”

Vomito Negro
KK Records

Thomas P. Heckmann picks...

‘Verschwende Deine Jugend’

“It’s very hard to choose as I have quite a few favourites, but this was the first thing I would call original EBM I listened to in 1981. The music and title say it all. Prototype blueprint in the same level as Liaisons Dangereuses and Suicide.”

Interstellar Funk picks...

Tuning Circuits
'No Compassion'
Totally Freaked Out Power Electronics

“It's a tough question! But this cassette is from the Netherlands in the ‘90s. It never got reissued properly and is one of my favourites. It’s really hard to get and it this weird electro/noise music, way before this whole thing was going on. It’s pretty interesting.”

Job Sifre picks...

Nitzer Ebb
‘Join in the Chant’

“This is still one of my main go to classics. It really works well on the dancefloor. It doesn’t have a too crazy synth bass, but that makes it really feel industrial. People going wild is a certainty.”

David Vunk picks...

‘Und Weiter Geht’s’
ZYX Records

“This came out in 1990 and I love everything about it. The beat, the sound, the voices and the strings. It's dark but still has energy. I heard it for the first time in Miami two years ago. I was there to visit a friend and play. I was at his house, he put on this record and *indistinguishable noise*.”

Discodromo pick...

Clock DVA
‘Virtual Flesh’
Contempo Records

“Released in ’92, so not a pure EBM track since already informed of techno/trance with a super-funky mechanical acidy baseline.”