File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1996/96-11-03.013, message 38

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 13:22:31 GMT
Subject: State of the Digital Art  2

   The New York Times, October 3, 1996, p. 16. 
   The Pop Life: Digital Hardcore 
   By Neil Strauss 
   Musicians have found a new extreme: digital hardcore. 
   Last month, three German bands -- Atari Teen-Age Riot, 
   Ec80r and Shizuo -- came to New York to perform at the 
   Frying Pan, a boat docked at Chelsea Piers, and Other 
   Music, a record store in the East Village. Each show lasted 
   just minutes because the bands blew out the power in both 
   places with their instruments. What they are known for is 
   the fast, noisy, politically charged rock of hardcore punk, 
   but played on the electronic instruments used in techno and 
   other modern styles of dance music. 
   Grand Royal, the label run by the Beastie Boys, recently 
   released a set of singles by these bands. On songs like 
   "Cocain Ducks" by Ec80r (pronounced EEE-cator), electronic 
   break beats spin out of control, as a manic collage of 
   bleeping electronics, scratching records and looped guitar 
   riffs whir in the foreground and a female voice screams 
   lines like "I hate your guts" loud enough to pin the 
   needles on a VU meter to the far right side. ln explaining 
   his attraction to the music, while speaking outside one of 
   the aborted concerts, Mike D. of the Beastie Boys said it 
   was the first electronic style he had heard that reminded 
   him of the music of punks and riot grrrls. 
   Though the compilation "Capitol Noise" (on the German label 
   of the same name) highlights some American bands that have 
   a similar sound most of the music comes from Berlin. It is 
   made mostly by musicians who started out in hardcore bands, 
   drifted into a variant of techno for several years and then 
   discovered that neither offered what they were looking for. 
   "When I started with techno stuff, I didn't use vocals and 
   lyrics as a reaction to how stupid most of the punk bands 
   sounded then," said Alec Empire, who started the Digital 
   Hardcore record label and makes music under his own name 
   and in Atari Teen-Age Riot. "I thought instrumental music 
   with no message was better. But then I saw a younger 
   generation that was coming up and using the music just to 
   party and take drugs. So I started adding vocal messages 
   into the songs, and using the music to disturb the harmony 
   that is made by the Government and society." 
   Mr. Empire described the music as full of "quick but 
   relevant changes" (as opposed to the static pounding of 
   most techno); distorted, overdriven frequencies, 
   particularly in the midrange, and enough aggression so "no 
   one can read or do anything else while listening to the 
   music." His concerts in Germany attract as many as 1,000 
   people who dance to the music by pogo-ing and stage-diving 
   as if they are at a punk show. 
   In songs like "Raverbashing," on Atari Teen-Age Riot's 
   album "Delete Yourself" (one of the few electro albums that 
   comes with lyrics), a hip-hop beat runs at warp speed and 
   electronic pitches slide up and down as a voice criticizes 
   rave culture with lyrics like "don't think, just dance." In 
   songs by other musicians like the 23-year-old David Shizuo, 
   the dance-floor directive "Throw your hands in the air!" is 
   turned into a subversive command "Throw the bank in the 
   If you want to listen to digital hardcore by these bands, 
   act fast. "Stagnation is one of the worst things that can 
   happen to music," Patric Cremer of Ec80r said. "I don't 
   think our music will be the same in three or four years, 
   though I think it will still be extreme." By then, most 
   likely, scores of other punk bands will have abandoned 
   their electric guitars for digital samplers. 

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