Dessau is the musical output mainly of one John Elliott. Mining a similar artistic vein as Nitzer Ebb and early Ministry, Dessau delivered powerful, rhythmic industrial dance tracks that translated better to the dancefloor than to the home stereo.Songs like Suffer, Sun 90, Unshakeable and of course, Isolation are well known amongst the scene's "older" aggro fans.
Elliott began his musical career as the drummer for punk rock outfit Cloverbottom in Nashville, Elliott later experimented with electronic percussion as a member of the Actuals (later known as Factual).After becomming fed up with the stagnant Nashville rock scene, Elliott moved to Chicago in 1982, where he made important friendships with producer Martin Hannett (Joy Division, New Order) and Ministry member Paul Barker. Returning to Nashville in 1985, Elliott even lured the famed producer into the studio to work on Dessau's first EP, Red Languages.
Working with veteran Nashville rockers Skot Nelson (guitars) and Mike Orr (bass), Dessau would release a series of dance-oriented EPs through the latter half of the '80s, including Happy Mood in 1986. The 1988 Mad Hog EP featured a remix of the minor dance hit "Unshakeable" by Ministry's Al Jourgensen. Both Jourgensen and Paul Barker would contribute to a 1988 cover of Joy Division's "Isolation" which would become Dessau's dancefloor breakthrough. A full-length album, Exercise in Tension, would follow in 1989. Produced by Giles Reaves and including "Isolation," the CD version included "Beijing," Dessau's third (and last so far) hit dance track. With industrial dance becoming old hat in the face of the Seattle revolution, Elliott disbanded Dessau.
During the '90s, Elliott turned toward other projects which included the band, Passafist. (the group's 1995 self-titled album even received a Dove Award nomination for Best Christian Heavy Metal Album.) Re-forming Dessau with guitarist Norm Rau, Elliott released the heavier, less dance-oriented Details Sketchy in 1995, collaborating with members of Ministry, Pigface, and Filter. Mausoleum Records would later buy the rights to Dessau's back catalog; old friends Jourgensen and Barker revisiting and remixing Dessau songs like "Beijing," "Skeletons By Nature," and "Isolation" for the label's 1995 CD reissue.
They have worked with a virtual "whos-who" of "Industrial" including Paul Barker and Al Jourgensen (Ministry), Jason McNinch (Lick), Van Christie, Jim Marcus (Die Warzau), Luc Van Acker (revco), Richard Patrick (Filter) and many others……..
There may be a possibility (hmmm hint hint here, I wonder who may be smart enough to release this??) of this great band releasing some new material soon soon which may include the re-release of some old Ep's, unreleased Paul Barker/ Al Jourgensen remixes, demos and out-takes as well as another new release that has NEW songs and new remixes on it! Would all of you be as excited about something like this as I would?
(parts of this thread was written from an article by Rev. Keith A. Gordon, All Music Guide)
Red Languages (12") Not On Label 1985
Happy Mood (Vinyl, EP) Faction Records 1986
Isolation (12") Carlyle Records 1988
Mad Hog (12") Carlyle Records 1988
Exercise In Tension (CD) Carlyle Records 1989
Exercise In Tension (LP) Carlyle Records 1989
Exercise In Tension (LP, Album) Carlyle Records 1989
Beijing / Europe Light (Remix) (12") Carlyle Records 1990
Dessau (CD, Album) Mausoleum 1995
Details Sketchy (CD, Album) Fifth Colvmn 1995
In July 2009, DESSAU will release the 17 song THE TRUTH HURTS on WTII Records. This 1985-2000 retrospective package contains tracks from their first two vinyl only 12" EPs, RED LANGUAGES, produced by Martin Hannett and HAPPY MOOD, plus 4 unreleased Paul Barker produced songs, alternate mixes and 2 live Joy Division tracks. THE TRUTH HURTS will be the precursor to the first new DESSAU material in 10 years.
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