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:WUMPSCUT: (henceforth referred to as :W:) is the nom de plume of Rudy Ratzinger (3 June 1966-present), a club DJ from Munich. He spent the latter half of the 1980s working at a variety of goth/industrial clubs in and around the Munich area before becoming inspired to write and record his own music by the works of Danish EBM artist Claus Larsen (aka Leætherstrip), among others. The :W: style of music varies from time to time but usually consists of a lot of really heavy beats, distorted vocals in either German or English, synth breaks, copious use of samples from cinema and television, and sometimes incorporates a heavy metal guitar sound (sampled, I'm sure) to add backbone to the breaks. If the vocals were removed, most :W: tracks could easily pass as powernoise. Bleakness and brutality are two good words to use to describe it as a whole.

:W: first appeared on the German industrial music scene in 1991, with the release of the Defcon demo tape, of which only 50 copies were made. Nearly three dozen releases have steadily followed since then, with no real signs of slowing down. The German, and eventually global industrial music scene became Ratzinger's career, and given that he doesn't ever play his music live, he presumably has a lot of time to devote to :W: and to the three record labels he runs—Beton Kopf Media, founded in 1995 to exclusively release :W: works in Europe (Metropolis Records handles the North American releases); Mental Ulcer Forges, which handles a number of other German artists' European releases (most notably Noisex); and Fleisskoma, which handles more indie types of EBM acts in Europe. Rudy still DJs now and then at special events across Europe, and has become a prolific remixer, though his remix works generally stay within the EBM genre and its most immediate spinoff genres.

Defcon was followed by another self-produced tape entitled Small Chambermusicians. Its print run was only 70. Despite the small numbers of his works in circulation, he caught a break in 1993 and contributed a track to New Forms of Entertainment, Vol. 1, an EBM genre compilation CD that ended up quite widely circulated. He parlayed that success into his first album-length release, Music for a Slaughtering Tribe (which itself has subsequently been re-released twice with variations since its January 1993 pressing). From there, the ball kept rolling and :W: has averaged about a new release each year since, be it a new album, new EP, new boxed set (of which there are an impressive number), on top of various album tracks becoming club staples in Europe and North America and several remixes per year appearing, not only of his own works but of the works of others as well. Rudy makes quite a few different mixes of songs that end up on his releases, and most of the variations end up on EPs and on remix compilation albums that :W: also has a penchant for releasing. Though he's mostly known for his extensive expertise in producing electronic music, he also has a real talent for coming up with lyrics, which, if they end up as bilingual releases, rhyme in both languages.

:W: is, more truly than some of its contemporaries, a German outfit. That being the case, many of :W:'s tracks which contain lyrics (not all of them do) are recorded in both German and English versions. Doing this also increases the rate at which new :W: material comes out. Rudy seems to be a modern pop culture addict, as a great many of his tracks contain samples from German cinema and TV, and German dubs of non-German movies. The most notorious example of this practice is the track "Soylent Grün," which has many gratuitous samples from the German dub of the film Soylent Green; this song is probably :W:'s most well-known, even today, decades after its first appearance.

Most of :W:'s output is produced on popular electronic music equipment—Apple G5s, System Soundscape HDR-1 and Digidesign Digi 001 HD recorders; Steinberg Cubase and Emagic Notator Logic for mixing; an Akai S5000, a Roland JV-2080 and a JP-8080, a Yahama CS6R and even a 10-year-old MicroWave for sampling, sequencing and general instrumental purposes; Finalizer, Fireworx and M3000 for effects and processing; and various DVR, VHS and DVD players/recorders for culling usable samples from film and TV sources.

:W: itself is very active among its fans, and is directly involved in the upkeep of its official website. Despite this, :W: does not and probably is very unlikely to ever play live, in Germany or anywhere else. No real reason has been given for this eccentricity, but it has led many to speculate on Rudy's appearance or on whatever mental problems he may have that keep him from appearing on stage. Rudy himself has always been silent on the matter, letting the multitude of :W: releases speak for themselves.

I would include a discography here, but it's just too much work to keep up with :W:'s releases, which continue at a pace of about five new releases a year, not counting mixes for other artists or the same releases in different formats (e.g. CD vs. 12" LP), or simultaneous German language/English language releases. So, for the full, definitive discography, I suggest you check out the :W: listings on discogs.com.

UPDATE 2017: Rudy Ratzinger announced in 2016 that the end of :wumpscut: was near, and by early 2017, the end of the project was announced. The final release was a best-of, "Innerfire", containing ~30 tracks.



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