Nonlinear independent component analysis (NICA) is a powerful method for analyzing nonlinear and nongaussian data. Artificial neural network (ANN), especially self-organizing map (SOM) based on unsupervised learning, is an excellent tool for pattern clustering and recognition. A novel multi-NICA network is proposed for feature extraction of different mechanical patterns, followed by a typical ANN that is one of Multi-Layer Perceptron (MLP), or Radial Basis Function Network (RBFN), or self-organizing map (SOM), which implements the final classification. Using NICA and appropriate strategies for further feature extraction, nonlinear and higher than second order features embedded in multi-channel vibration measurements can be captured effectively. Mechanical fault patterns can be recognized correctly. Results from the contrast classification experiments show that the new compound ICA-SOM classifier can be constructed in a simpler way and it can classify various fault patterns with high accuracy, both of which imply a great potential in health condition monitoring of machine systems.