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Power noise (also known as rhythmic noise, noize and occasionally as distorted beat music) is a form of industrial music and a fusion of noise music and various styles of electronic dance music. It should not be confused with "power electronics", which is not influenced by electronic dance music and is closer to harsh noise. Its origins are predominantly European.
Power noise takes inspiration from Spanish industrial act Esplendor Geometrico, active since 1980. The Belgian group Dive also anticipated the style in the early '90s. The term "power noise" was coined by Raoul Roucka of Noisex in 1997, with the track "United (Power Noise Movement)". The genre was exposed to the U.S. industrial scene by the electro-industrial act Wumpscut, who signed Noisex to the label Mental Ulcer Forges.
The first power noise artists were German. In addition to Noisex and :wumpscut:, these included Asche, Morgenstern, P·A·L, Synapscape, and Feindflug. The Belgians Axiome, Hypnoskull, Imminent, Ah Cama-Sotz, Sonar, and This Morn' Omina, also developed the genre. Black Lung, an Australian, and Orphx, Canadians, were also active in the style at this time. Japanoise musicians, such as Merzbow,Aube, and Contagious Orgasm, have also made use of prominent rhythms.
Notable power noise artists who emerged in the 21st century include Iszoloscope, Antigen Shift, Bupe.HK, Prospero, Drillbit, Tarmvred, Converter, Terrorfakt, Alter Der Ruine, Panzer Division, C/A/T, and Xotox.
Typically, power noise is instrumental, based upon a distorted kick drum from a drum machine such as a Roland TR-909, and uses militaristic 4/4 beats. Sometimes a melodic component is added, but this is usually secondary to the rhythm. Power noise tracks are typically structured and danceable, but are occasionally abstract. This genre is showcased at the annual Maschinenfest festival in Oberhausen, Germany, as well as Kinetik Festival in Montreal, Canada.
Some groups, such as Combichrist and Dulce Liquido, practice power noise along with aggrotech. Others, such as Tarmvred, meld the style with breakcore. Others still, merge elements of IDM, such as Endif.