Finally we can watch the first Nachtmahr video, with the song "Can you feel the beat?"!
As I (almost) already finished my monograph, I’ve encountered on this video a lot of themes I’ve been studying these last months and here we can see everything that composes Nachtmahr summarized in 5:30 minutes.
The first scenes, as we already could watch when the voice contest was announced, are quite controversial according to what Thomas said to this interview:
All women I use in my art are strong women. There are no slaves. I wouldn’t say either of my girls is in a weak position. I like strong women, I use to see the girls as my army, they are the guards, my soldiers. So they are all very strong, in a way. I don’t think they are objects because what I want to get across the pictures, in the art, that they are all strong. And nobody is like in a sadomasochistic background, like submissive. They are all strong women who are doing something because they feel like doing it. They are not objects, because they do out of their own will.
It is and it is not controversial since the blond girl seems to be in a weaker position, tied and with a sack covering her face. Aggressively, the man takes it off, but she is not afraid of him, even when he starts his interrogation with no kindness. That corroborates with Thomas’ quote, because even in a victim position, the blond girl, which is part of Nachtmahr’s army, keeps herself faithful to her ideals - of not telling Thomas' and Nachtmahr's plans about world domination. She is just too strong and fearless that she spits in the face of the raptor. Then, he slaps her face, announcing the beginning of the song. And he keeps attacking her according to the rhythm of the music.
I would not say that this is making violence aesthetically beautiful, yet it does as many thriller movies and Hollywood stuff do, but this could offend some people who are not part of industrial scene – mainly feminists. As I thought, this video has the same feeling from Combichrist's Throat Full of Glass, where the “enemy” also shows off his two-women army.
The funny thing is that the model from Nachtmahr's Can you feel the beat EP cover and from Semper Fidelis artbook also holds a baseball bat...
And they are also kidnapped, in this case, by the band members. In Nachtmahr's case, the girl was kidnapped by the band's enemy. In Combichrist video, they are threatened with a gun and they are forced to take her clothes off, to make them yet more vulnerable. On the other hand, Nachtmahr's girl is not afraid of her condition, but...
Then she is tortured and her painful scream accompanies the rhythm of the music
BRILL (2008) explains that “masculinist rock culture defines women in terms of stereotypical representation of female archetypes: as idealized feminine being, sexualized dominatrix, earth mother or submissive sex object” (p.151). Here, as we already said, these girls have been idealized as strong women and they have been sexualized, not as dominatrix, as Thomas has explained, or as submissive/sadomasochist objects, but they are still submitted to a context of sexuality. In Alle Lust will Ewigkeit (2009) artbook, the girls are portrayed in sexual act, while it represents the game of power which sex, according to Thomas, is.
There are cases in which there is a kind of pleasure which is conditioned by a rhythmic succession of small displeasure twitching: thus, one can reach a very fast augmentation of the power feeling, of the pleasure feeling. An example of that is the itch, as a sexual itch during copulation: consequently, we watch to the displeasure acting as a pleasure ingredient. A little obstacle is supplanted, but immediately there is another one which is also supplanted – this game of resistances and victories stimulates to the highest the general feeling of power, superfluous and excessive constitutes precisely the essence of pleasure (NIETZSCHE, 2001, p.266).
In the video, the blond girl seems to get unconscious after being beaten. So she starts to remember some scenes that were presented on Alle Lust will Ewigkeit artbook. On the 2009 album, we had known the other side of the girls in uniform, where they compete who is stronger through a sexual struggle against her colleagues from Nachtmahr's army. As Nietzsche says, "the increasing sexual excitation keeps a tension that has alleviation in the sensation of power. To wish to dominate is a positive sign of the sensual men" (apud IGNACIO, 2009). And Alle Lust will Ewigkeit is an album about the greed for power.
But while this girl has been suffering in order to protect her leader and colleagues, there are several glimpses of Thomas Rainer in his “headquarter”, first planning the world domination as he studies a map.
The lyrics are: "We sweep across nations like a storm, a force to reckon with was born/We came and conquered what you thought safe, we seek to rule and to enslave"
As Thomas told me, he uses Nazi aesthetical references as a matter of reviving its power feeling created through their imagery, as HANLEY (2004) affirms that some industrial bands stand “in the position of power formally held by a political figure or group” (p.162) - see here this scene possible reference. By singing lyrics like these, he keeps lending totalitarian metaphors to just talk about his journey around the world, conquering audiences from everywhere.
"We're setting clubs ablaze, From Moscow to LA, Vienna, London, Antwerp, From Russia to the U.S.A"
The same has been sung also in Unbeugsam, from Semper Fidelis. Read the lyrics and listen to the song. That is because Nachtmahr's metaphors face world tours as military campaigns and once the band "conquers" its foreigner audience, it is just as it has conquered the territory - as in a war context, as its Imperial Austrian Industrial has attached another land to its imaginary reign. And to win this battle, Nachtmahr presents new weapon:
A male army designated to rescue that blond girl. So I would say that they are more like soldiers while the girls in uniform, now, stand for a special paramilitary group such as Schutzstaffel, which translated means "Protection Squadron" or "Defence Corps", worked for Hitler
Other news are these men who appear playing with Thomas as a band, when Nachtmahr has been centralized in the front man figure. I think they are part of the live support, which is composed by First Lieutenant Massimo Moscato, Staff Sergeant David Chapman, Private First Class Gregor Beyerle and Private First Class André Steinigen. See, Supreme Commander is always accompanied by military people. :)
"There will be no surrender/There will be no retreat, nothing can stop us now"
"Can you feel the beat? Can you feel the beat? Of pounding hearts and marching feet. Can you feel the beat?"
It is quite obvious that the "beat" here means not only the rhythm of the music, but also as a hit, a blow, a slam. Therefore, the violent scenes feel like the music beat.
The rescue scene
After the blond girl is rescued, she is brought to Thomas' headquarter
And then she is honored with an insignia of Nachtmahr, such as the Nazis honored their soldiers and people with badges and insignias. But it is not an exception for the Nazis, because every army gives badges and insignias to their soldiers as a reward for their work. I chose this comparision because Nachtmahr uses a lot of Nazi aesthetics of power and Thomas is wearing a coat pretty close to Schutzstaffel's one, with a diagonal belt and also the arm band, even though both are not purely Nazi accessories, but military accessories.
Military uniforms here work not just as matter that "soldiers must distinguish themselves from the civilian population by means of a distinctive sign,usually a military uniform, as well as by carrying their weapons openly" (PFANNER, 2004, p.103), but this distinctive character makes the ones who wear military uniforms even more different from the civilian, from the "normal people", from Nietzsche's herd. Uniforms, specially the totalitarian ones, were more turned to being aesthetically beautiful.
SS uniforms are stylish, well-cut, with a touch (but not too much) of eccentricity. Compare the rather boring and not very well cut American army uniform: jacket, shirt, tie, pants, socks, and lace-up shoes, essentially civilian clothes. SS uniforms were tight, heavy, stiff. The boots made legs and feet feel heavy, encased, obliging then wearer to stand up straight. As the jacket of SS Regalia explains: “The uniform was black, a color which had important overtones in Germany. On that, the SS wore a vast variety of decorations, symbols, badges to distinguish rank, from the collar runes to the death’s head. The appearance was both dramatic and menacing" (SONTAG, 1974).
Also, wearing a beautiful and strong uniform can be a kind of military tactic, such as psychological warfare. The Romans, for example, used the red cloak of the uniform not just as an accessory to protect them from the cold weather, but also as a weapon, to make the enemies afraid of them through aesthetics.
When you look back in the militaristic, the Romans with their very sophisticated militaristic strategy and their high discipline were intimidating the enemies just by their uniforms. Every the soldiers look the same but the military formations on the battlefield instantly scared the enemy, so the Nazis were really the first to reproduce this. I will go far and say it was kind of a psychological warfare. You just see this army and you think “oh my god, this is really strong and powerful”. And Nazis took it to a level that no other government ever was able to achieve (Thomas Rainer).
In the end of this video, we see that, actually, there is no end.
While Thomas calls his other girls, one of them attacks the honored colleague from behind, proving the thesis from Alle Lust will Ewigkeit, about the greed for power
Everything here is part of a great military metaphor, as I already said. Thomas has created a world for Nachtmahr, which can be faced such as a world designed for Role Playing Games (RPGs). Everything has its right place in this comparision: there is a scenario (a battlefield, a war, which is life itself or the artistic life); there are characters (Supreme Commander Thomas Rainer, the girls in uniform, his live support team and the fans); an objective (world domination, war against hypocrisy, staying true to yourself); an enemy (the hypocrite society, the herd morality) and so on.
Creating everything, being the master of this world, Thomas also makes people get into the right mood of Nachtmahr:
Because it’s necessary to keep this world alive. Think about Dungeons & Dragons, with a world that is so cool. I think it just helps people to dive into the world if you are a character and not the real person they can meet everyday at the concerts. (...) creating the world is necessary. That’s what I want to do. I am myself when I meet the people in person, then I am myself and authentic. But to create this world for my art, I need to create this world and therefore I need to be this character to do so (Thomas Rainer).
Therefore, when Thomas sings about conquering the whole world, enslaving people and all that stuff, he is just playing with words such as videogames or role playing games. It is more like a Homo ludus acting than a Nazi kid hidden behind such metaphors, dancing beats and fancy clothes. Still, not everybody is ready to understand it like that and this is not just a matter of knowing the band or the industrial scene. This is a dangerous strategy, likely to cause misinterpretation because these images are “still so fresh in our cultural vocabulary” (HANLEY, 2004, p.162).
Yet, this video is just really nice according to industrial videos pattern. Besides, it is quite difficult to find videos that tell some story as this one is telling, even though in another music genres. Mostly, they are more worried about showing the band playing or just creating a design concept, purely abstract.
By now, I ask you to wait for my paper, which will be published (if everything be ok) in February, by the University of Vienna, under the name of War on the dancefloor: The martial character in Nachtmahr. Also, I will try to start translating my monograph, Kunst ist Krieg: industrial music and martial discourses, in December, after it's totally finished and evaluated. This is just a glimpse of hypothesis I traced on my research. Hope you enjoy and comment, asking, criticizing, anything :)
NIETZSCHE, Friedrich W. Vontade de Potência – trad. prefácio e notas Mário Ferreira dos Santos. São Paulo: editora Escala, 2001
BRILL, Dunja. Goth culture. Gender, sexuality and style. Londres: Routledge, 2008
HANLEY, Jason J (2004). "The Land of Rape and Honey": The Use of World War II Propaganda in the Music Videos of Ministry and Laibach. American Music, vol. 22, no. 1 (Spring), pp.158-175
IGNACIO, Paula. Sobre a Vontade de Poder em Nietzsche. <http://www.consciencia.org/sobre-a-vontade-de-poder-em-nietzsche#_ftn7>
PFANNER, Toni. Military uniforms and the law of war. In: International Review of the Red Cross. Vol. 86, March 2004 <http://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/irrc_853_pfanner.pdf>
SONTAG, Susan. Fascinating Fascism. 1974. <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1975/feb/06/fascinating-fascism/?page=1>
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