Will Berlin's Techno Scene Make Way For A Hardcore Revival?

The crowd at the Rotterdam Terror Corps event, drenched in silly string. All photos taken by Grey Hutton. This post ran originally on THUMP Germany.

A poster plastered up on a wall in the streets of Berlin drew more than a few curious onlookers over the past few days. It depicts a smiling bald man with his sunglasses up on his head, riding a moped, adorned in a skull sweater, surroundedsurprisinglyby a sea of smiling faces. This event ad elicited some surprised reactions from passersby in the city. “Rotterdam Terror Corps and DJ Skinhead are coming to Berlin? To Astra?” Would two hardcore acts with an international fanbase really play in that concert hall in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district, where acts such as Tycho, Tove Lo, and Joy Denalane would be headlining over the next few weeks? The answer was a resounding yes, which lead to another important question. Are hardcore and gabber going to get popular again in a city overrun with techno?

Once we get to the event, we noticed that the party is only taking place in the front room, around the bar. The large space where electronica icon Trentemller just finished performing with his band the same evening has been kept empty. Local artists Outrage and Beagle are DJing first. Many of the people here know them back from Bunker, the popular 90s club once located in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood, inside an old air-raid shelter that now houses a contemporary art collection. Bunker was famous for its hardcore floor, which had a big influence on the gabber scene overall. Beagle is part of Gabba Nation, and many members of tonight’s crowd are wearing patches repping that DJ team. DJ Schleppscheisse, DJ Devil, and Bork are shifting between drum and bass and trance on a second, smaller floor.

This event was organized by local agency GreyZone. Sabrina, who works for them, sums things up well: “Hardcore is simple: dark rooms and ‘boom boom.”‘ The hardcore scene usually meets up in clubs like Void or M-BIA, at events such as the Friedlich Feiern (“party peacefully”) parties. It barely registers a blip on the city’s nightlife. Because of this, some gabbers were a bit suspicious of tonight’s event, especially since it never gets really dark in Astra.

Who are the hardcore fans and gabbers of today? Find out in the exclusive THUMP mini documentary above.

Our presence at the venue contributed to that suspicion, too; after all, we brought along our own film crew. Rotterdam Terror Corps are joined tonight by the MC Randy, a.k.a. LXCPR, instead of the more well-known RTSier and R.A.W, who often play the party. There’s plenty of strobe light flashing and “boom boom” as the band starts to performplus tons of silly string and a pieces of clothing flying off the bodies of the two RTC dancers, piece by piece.

Nathalie, who was featured in our documentary, isn’t here this time around. Joyce is dancing next to Emmely in her place. The latter brought along outfits for her shift at a strip club in Rotterdam tomorrow in her suitcase. The two dancers’ performance is part of the usual set-up, as are the barking commands issued by Randy and George Ruseler (a.k.a. DJ Distortion) as they rip into hardcore attacks on pop songs old and new. The guys at the edge of the crowd have been sucked into their smartphones, but the people in front of the stage and in the middle are going strong, throwing around their legs and elbows.

Although the DJs play a couple of new songs from RTC’s album Release Your Anger, which came out in December, this show is the same as it has been for years. And it works. The Dutch group usually draws a larger crowd, but later on Emmely still says, “It was crazy today.”

Apart from the fact that almost everyone here is white, the crowd is diverse in other ways. There’s Katja from Berlin, who DJs as Miss Nightkat and will soon play at the 15th anniversary of the hardcore series Brainfire, which is also celebrating 25 years of Gabba Nation. “Hardcore makes me feel the most I’ve ever felt both good and bad,” she says. “And I don’t have to put on any specific clothes for it; I can just wear what I want.” Her hair is blue, and she’s got on a flower-patterned corset over a pink bustier.

Meanwhile, another member of the crowd has the “classic” gabber look, as though he walked right out of one of those iconic gabber YouTube videos: a fluffy yellow sweater, black and white track pants, white socks pulled up over the pant cuffs, and colorful sneakers. He wouldn’t normally be here, though: “I’m more a part of the techno scene; this is a little something different for me.” In Berghain, where he spends most of his time, “everyone wears black and it’s mainly artsy people and hipsters. Here there are more East Berliners and people from Brandenburg (in the outskirts of Berlin), which is what I expected.”

Going out in Berlin usually revolves around door policies based on ‘coolness,’ and the music isn’t at all the main thing anymore. That’s shitty.

Another partygoer named Willem has been thinking about this issue for a long time. He’s half-Dutch, comes from the region around Aachen, and produces hardcore music here in Berlin under the name RhinOzerOz. He likes to grab fellow riders’ attention on the S-bahn by pushing around a handcart loaded with music, getting people familiar with hardcore again. “Berlin is strongly influenced by techno,” he says. “That’s why hardcore isn’t as big here as it is in the Netherlands, in Italy, and in the Ruhr Valley. But the nightlife situation in the city is awful because all of the tourists want to go to the cool clubs and then stand in line in front of Berghain for three hours. Here the door policy is based on ‘coolness,’ and it’s not about the music at all anymore. is shitty. The covers are high. The sick raves of the past are gone.”

Hardcore might provide an answer to these issues if the techno scene expanded its musical horizons. It did in the past: In the ’90s, techno and hardcore acts often performed back-to-back. If something similar happened again, then maybe today’s Berlin-based gabbers wouldn’t have to travel around so much to major events like Defqon, Thunderdome, and Syndicate to hear the music they love.

Dominik, another fan in the crowd, agrees with this line of thinking. He’s already converted to hardcorehe used to be a metalhead, though. He moved to Berlin from Stuttgart six months ago, and tonight is the first local hardcore event that he’s seen. “When it comes to metal, you can’t really party so much,” he tells me. “I’m always at hardcore events, and I use a wheelchair. Dancing connects peopleyou get to know each other. I love that ecstatic feeling.” Then we meet another Dutch fan in the crowd. Baron is there with his bandmate Mimi. “People in Berlin usually don’t like to dance a lot,” she says. “Hardcore could shake them awake.” He didn’t expect today’s event to happen here, but he’s been noticing over the past year how more and more people in Berlin are talking about gabber and hardcore. It all boils down to the fact that music today is much too boring and not aggressive enough. “Hardcore is a fucking punch to the face, man!” Mimi consents.

Baron doesn’t think that hardcore will make its way back into the mainstream, but he does sees how it could influence popular music: “Songs with high BPM or individual sounds taken from hardcore music could get really big,” he says.

So is a hardcore revival actually happening in Berlin, where techno reigns surpreme nowadays?

“The revival started in 1993 and it’s still going on,” George from RTC tells me, right after he just played alone for a bit as DJ Distortion. Meanwhile, DJ Skinhead put on a pretty bland, unexciting set that left many crowd members grumbling. George has been asked variations on this question again and again over the years. “Hardcore has never gone away. Kids will always want to listen to this kind of non-commercial music. It gives them something that other music can’t.”

Randy, Emmely, and Joyce are sitting around us. They each yell “Hardcore will never die!”, one after the other. Then it’s finally time for them to grab a cab. Meanwhile, the party continues, with plenty of open space on the dancefloor.

How did Willem put it again a little while ago? “Gabber ben je niet voor even, Gabber ben je voor het leven.“: You’re not just a gabber for a little while, you’re a gabber for life.


Panteros666 Unleashes A "Post-Hardstyle" Heater On Casual Gabberz' Essential New Compilation

Album art courtesy of the label.

Casual Gabberz is a Parisian collective of musicians leading the charge for a new, international gabber scene. Founded in 2013, the group releases hybrid club tracks that weave in gabber and rave, updating that screeching, no-fucks-given hardcore sound, as they put it in a press release, “for the internet age.” In 2014, the collective also organized GABBER EXPO in Paris, the first international exhibition about gabber culture (and the only music conference I could see myself having a good time at). Similar to collectives like Gabber Eleganza in Italy, KUNQ in New York, and Wixapol SA in Poland, Casual Gabberz also throws their own gabber-fueled parties, inviting old-school hardcore DJs like Rotterdam Terror Corps and Bass D to play alongside newer-gen acts like Teki Latex, Krampf, and Feadz.

On February 17, Casual Gabberz is releasing a blockbuster compilation called Inutile de Fuir (the title, according to my shoddy knowledge of French, roughly translates to “It’s Useless to Run Away”). Available as a double CD, free digital download (YAS!), and special boxset, these 40+ tracks also serve as Casual Gabberz’ musical manifesto, showing off the hybrid new gabber sound that they’ve been incubating over the past four years. Artists like Kilbourne, Panteros666, Canblaster, and Voiron were tasked with creating original tracks inspired by “hard” genres like hardcore, gabber, doom, trance, hardstyle, and jumpstyleand judging from the number of plays I’ve clocked up in the last few weeks, it bangs.

Below, we’re premiering “Planet 50/50” by Club Cheval member Panteros666, who pairs trance’s saccharine synths with pitched-up baby vocals straight out of a happy hardcore track and kick-in-your-face drums. He creates a jittery “post-hardstyle” club banger that wouldn’t be out of place on a GHE20G0TH1K dancefloor.

An Entire Generation of Dutch Children Was Ruined by Gabber

“Panteros666 has been one of our first supporters and became through the years a great friend. He played at our parties many times and took us for a legendary trip to his hometown at the border of France and Belgium and brought us to a party at Le Cap’tain, a club where the gabber culture is still vibrant/vibing,” the Casual Gabberz collective told THUMP in a statement.

As for Panteros666, he remarked, “Gabber is definitely something I want people to discover. The energy, pace and production technique is very refreshing. There are so many subgenres in gabber, the room for sonic and exploration is limitless. So here’s one of my post hardstyle hybrids. The track has a quirky organic groove in a meta technological environment, it’s my tribute to Manu Kenton, a hardstyle pioneer from my Euroregion. It goes up and down, grows dark and rises again, in that exhilarating hardstyle roller-coaster ride type of club structure.” Check it out below.

Follow Michelle Lhooq on Twitter

My Journey Into The Heart Of The Gabber Nation

All photos by the author, unless otherwise stated.

This post was originally published on THUMP Germany.

The German artist Henrike Naumann used a residency in Friesland, Holland to explore her longtime fascination with the infamously punishing genre of high-speed electronic music called gabber. Below is an account of her time leading up to the group show Gabber Nation and a reflection on the history and culture that surrounds it.

Gabber is legendarily one of the heaviest genres of music to ever exist and it’s also one of the best, in my opinion at least. The frenetic, driving sound has long been inextricably linked to Hollandwhich is where I stand currently, in the city of Friesland, to search for the roots of one of the world’s longest-standing gabber scenes.

For several years, I’ve been interested in studying extreme sub-cultures and youth scenes, which I’m investigating in terms of their potential to offer political forms of radicalization. I want to find out what unifies gabber scenes at their core, and to penetrate the core of something means I must become a part of it.

Kunsthuis SYB, an artist residency program based in Friesland, invite me to do a residency in the tranquil town of Beetsterzwaag; it’s an unassuming town that has a bit of a historical connection to Gabber scene. In 1992, the infamous hardcore techno and gabber music festival, Thunderdome, took place a mere 20 kilometers away, in Heerenveen. I’ll traverse across the countryside for the next 40 days, equipped with reading from the Berlin Archive of Youth Culture and the masters thesis of anthropologist, Biana Ludewig, as well as a handful of friends and, of course, a good pair of headphones.

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In search of the origins of the true Thunderdome, my colleague and I spend some rainy nights in Friesland watching all of the Mad Max movies in succession. In the third edition of this series, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, you won’t only see Tina Turner in her most grandiose role, but also what we assume is the primordial mother of all Thunderdomes. We only later learn from a book that Irfan van Ewijk, Duncan Stutterheim and Theo Leliethe people who organized the first Thunderdome rave in 1992 with their company, ID&Tweren’t actually referring to the film, but had just looked for a “cool name” using a dictionary.

Somewhat disenchanted, I nevertheless continue to look for hidden traces of gabber in Friesland. The music genre originally was birthed out of Rotterdam, but it’s still had a big, devoted following in Friesland since the first Thunderdome event. And almost every car that passes by here has tinted windows, behind which pump hard, fast beats. Also, the gigantic hardstyle event, Defqon.1, takes place in the neighboring province of Flevoland. Through a contact, I’m able to get a ticket for the sold-out mega-festival. I soon hop on a rave bus in the nearby village of Drachten.

The rain was coming down in buckets for basically the entire first day, and instead of all the nice Australia track suits and Thunderdome shirts, I can only make out yellow ponchos. However, Marc Acardipane, the father of hardcore techno, lets me forget the cool “summer” with his pounding set.

Video: Boris Postma

My research trip then takes me to Thialf Arena in Heerenveen, a skating rink and the venue for the original Thunderdome event. However, there’s no dome of thunder to be seen, it’s just a big construction site. But the press office is still open, so I’m able to have a look at archive material and learn something about the history of speed skating in Friesland. Speed is a tradition here!

On the tenth day of my trip, I’m joined by my colleague, the photographer Boris Postma. I make my way past a few of the forays through the “Friesian Disneyland” of Beetsterzwaag with him. Boris grew up in Bloomendaal, outside of Amsterdam, and he’s been a gabber enthusiast since he was 11 years old. In the beginning, we look for abandoned ruins and dystopian places with any traces of any kind of subculture, but we soon have to adjust to the realities here. In this aggressively peaceful environment, the apocalypse doesn’t come in the form of destruction, but rather in the form of lifeless, oppressive perfection. We feel like the last two people on earth, wandering for days through manicured, empty streets.

Photo by Boris Postma

I use our walks to ask Boris about his socialization in the gabber scene. His answers shatter many of my preconceptions. For example, while there are still active right-wing gabber movements in East Germany and in the Ruhr region, I don’t discover anything like that here on my trip. What I do come across are stories about an open, positive scene, and people who really want to tell me about their experiences.

Conversations with locals are increasingly becoming the centerpiece of my research. It’s not only gabbers of the first, second, and third generation who have tales about raves and pills, the older generation of parents are gradually coming out with memories of sleepless nights worrying about their children. It seems as though every single neighbor has a story to tell about gabber, whether they like it or not.

For example, we meet two gabber natives, Daria and Arjan. They met at the Dominator festival, after getting into a discussion about Thunderdome wizard tattoos. Thinking back on their youth, Arjan takes us to a pavilion nearby. “We blew up one of these once,” he recalls.

Photo by Boris Postma

You can still watch a video of the aforementioned 2007 pavilion explosion on YouTube. The artist Johannes Bttneralso a bomb makerwho just arrived from Amsterdam, has created a video-sound installation of these images. You can hear it through the whole residency building later during ones of our exhibitions. Our reinterpretation of their subculture is triggering bafflement among the local gabbers. The people here realized long ago that explosions in places like these are what make life possible.

Or as one of the boys who was present for the pavilion explosion added: “Peace has to be disturbed to find peace again.”

The biggest challenge awaits me after leaving Merle, Johannes and Boris: a week alone in the silence of the house. My appropriate remedy is made up of hard-hitting tracks by Marc Acardipane and Liza ‘N’ Eliaz.

Luckily, happiness sets back in as a group show for the residency program approaches. All of the sudden, the house is full. Bastian Hagedorna musician and social worker from Berlinwith whom I’ve wanted to do a gabber project for years, barely arrives before gutting the basement and reconstructing a legendary Berlin bunker reduced to only the essentials: Fog, strobe, bass.

Despite the seclusion, each day presents a new adventure. We realize that Rutger Hauer, who played Replicant Roy in Blade Runner, also lives in Beetsterzwaag, just a few houses away. We slip an invitation into his mailbox, obviously. From then on, we hope during each daily downpour, that Roy will appear at our door. The collection of materials for Gabber Nation has grown considerably at this point.

Photo by Boris Postma

Boris returns shortly before the exhibition. With his help, and objects from his old room, we construct the installation, Nexus ’96, the teenage bedroom of a gabber fan at the turn of the millennium. The now-grownup townies feel like they’re being transported into their past; for outsiders, it’s like a trip into an unknown world. In this moment, I realize that after weeks of planning and research, that we’re nowhere near the point of a big group exhibition booming through the walls. And visitors are streaming in, from neighboring towns, Amsterdam, and Berlin.

But I can tell that the climax has yet to come. The gabber street parade, organized by Ekaterina Burlyga kicks off the night. We make our way along the main street of the town with several cars, gabber beats, and our homemade flag.

Local gabbers, bleary-eyed artists, and the international art crowd come together on the dance floor in the garden, together in unison at 180BPM. Gabber Syndrome and friends disassemble the silence of the warm summer night into its individual components. The neighbors stick it out.

The party continues in Bastian’s bunker instillation. I dance with Daria, totally depleted, on a strobe-inundated corner of the dance floor. She smiles at me and sticks her forked tongue out at me. I scream in her ear, “I came here to this bizarre place looking for gabber, for the core of it all… and you know whatwe’re in it right now.”

Various – RetrOzone Vol 1

Various Retrozone Vol 1 Ozone RecordingsWhat we’re gonna do is here is go back… WAY back… as Sheffield’s Ozone Recordings launch a new reissue series called, er, RetrOzone. ]

Think what Brodanse’s Danse Club do for old US garage records, but for 1991/92-style hardcore rave. Featured here are three lesser-known tracks from ’92 courtesy of Nebula II (Flatliners), Bass Generator (Rhubarb & Samples) and Trak 1 (Street Violence), plus Rush Pirates’ Vol 1, a brand-new, sample-tastic affair that nails the sound of those white-gloves-n’-whistles days perfectly.

A bit of a departure from the usual TIWWD fare this one, admittedly. But ’91 hardcore was pretty much where yours truly came in and I suspect there are quite a lot of other, older househeads out there who won’t be able to resist breaking into a big silly grin when they hear these tracks.

Whistle posse – make some fucking noise!

Out: This week

About: You can find Ozone Recordings on Soundcloud and Facebook.

The Ten Best Happy Hardcore Remixes Ever

This article appeared originally on THUMP UK.

Here’s a great way to spend an hour/afternoon/day/week/month/year/lifetime/afterlifetype pretty much any song title you can think of into YouTube and add “hardcore” to it. Invariably you’ll be able to listen to a unofficial bootleg of the song in question, where the bedroom remixer’s decided that the best way to improve “Happy Birthday” or “Greensleeves” or Mozart’s “Turkish March” is to inject it with a massively OTT rhythmic track that has absolutely no relation to the song in question whatsoever.

And that’s part of the joy and pleasure of this musicit gives taste a massive middle finger. It is craven and bloated, rough and ready, queasy and uneasy. It’s music for provincial fairgrounds and library car parks, music that soundtracks adolescent escapades and feats of dering-do that’ll go unrepeated. It is music as total freedom.

Which is why we’ve put together this list of our ten favorite needlessly-massive hardcore remixes of all time. If you’re in the mood for music that sounds pretty much just like a swarm of Buckfast-drunk bees repeatedly flying headfirst into a wall then you’re in luck!

1. Ultrabeat – Pretty Green Eyes (Hixxy Remix)

Let’s kick things off with an undisputed classic. We’ve written about the undeniable majesty of “Pretty Green Eyes” and it’s the song that inspires pretty much 96% of the output on this website, being as it is the perfect summation of the sad wonder of UK nightlife at its most sentimental and trashy. Hixxy’s remix is as functional as it gets but why would you fuck with a classic? You don’t slather Reggae Reggae sauce on battered cod do you?

2. Madonna – Like a Prayer (Remix)

Obviously a hardcore take on the Madonna classic is always going to be stunning. Take one of the most strangely affecting pop records ever made, whack a massively distorted kick that sounds like a concrete ping pong ball being smashed between rubberized tectonic plates underneath it, speed everything up to comedy-helium-voice levels and hey prestoyou’ve got a song that’ll perfectly soundtrack doing speed on a bouncy castle at a friend’s daughter’s christening.

3. ABBA – The Winner Takes it All (Hardstyle Hardhouse Hardcore Techno Trance Gabber Rave Version)

Do you like your remixes RAW?

Do you like your remixes PUNISHING?

Do you like your remixes TO ONLY REALLY CONTAIN A FRAGMENT OF THE SONG THEY’RE CLAIMING TO REMIX AND OTHER THAN ARE JUST A BOG STANDARD BUT ACTUALLY REALLY SICK HARDCORE RECORD?

4. Bryan Adams – Everything I Do (Remix)

Hating the original of this is the kind of thing that makes sense when you’re an overly-serious teen desperate to impress the opposite sex by overstating your own sense of self-seriousness. You like Oscar Wilde and math-rock. You dislike ITV and naff, mum-friendly balladry. By now, safely tucking into the three course meal of disappointment, regret, and failure that is life in your mid-twenties you can embrace Bryan with something that looks a bit like a smile if you squint really hard. Holy fuck, I’m old. Bryan Adams hasn’t been a reference point for anyone for over a decade. Christ. Help. Fuck. Oh God, it happened.

5. Phil Collins – Another Day In Paradise (Hardcore Terror Mix)

Is Phil Collins one of the most oddly unlikeable figures in pop culture? He exudes a certain creepiness, a kind of unshakable air of spitefulness that means the thought of spending time with him is about as attractive a proposition as having your teeth pulled out, one by one, by former Apprentice contestant Ruth Badger. In a caravan. In Solihull. With The Best of Phil Collins playing in the background. Somehow though, this aptly titled rejig is utterly stunning in its own incredibly cack-handed way. Collins’ commercial radio station’s 80s Power Hour melody is shoved into an on-the-blink blender with some rotten old gabber record and the result comes on like big Phil’s been force fed into an industrial mincer. It’s the best he’s ever sounded.

6. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge (DJ Finchy Hardcore Remix)

When you think about it, ignorance really is bliss isn’t it? If I never go to the doctors, I’m never going to be ill; if I ignore the letters that my energy provider sends me then I’ll never have to pay the bill; if I never turn up to work I can’t get bollocked for not being at work. All of which is why I want to know nothing, absolutely nothing, about the mysterious figure behind this perfectly functional hardcore refix of a song that usually makes me think long and hard about just how soft the human skull really is. DJ Finchy, I don’t want to know where you’re from or what you dream of at night or which member of Hearsay you fancied most as a pre-teen. None of that matters. What matters is that you once spent at least 15 minutes putting this remix together, and an additional five uploading it to YouTube. Because you know that art transcends the self, don’t you DJ Finchy. Yes. Yes you do.

7. Bjork – Joga (State of Emergency Mix)

Happy hardcore is essentially the aural equivalent of eating 16 double cheeseburgers in a single sitting, then glugging down the same number of cans of knock-off fizzy drink, then smoking a 20 deck of JPS, without so much as a pause for breath all before getting into one of those human gyroscopes with a battered and broken 808 for company. This feels like that, except someone also snuck Bjork in there with you and she’s having a terrible time and it’s suddenly all gone a bit Very, Very Bad Acid Trip and you’re both trying to not vomit everywhere and…well done! You’ve been sick all over Bjork! Nice one.

8. Coolio – Gangsters Paradise (2Pac Happy Hardcore Remix)

While it’s lovely to pretend that music is some kind of higher artform, a means of communicating the unspeakable, a salve for the gaping septic wound that is life itself, to do so is to ignore one crucial thing: the fact that it isn’t any of those things. Music, for most people, is nothing more than something that exists in the same space as thembe it in the office, at ASDA, or in the car. However, there are exceptions, songs which make even the most music-ambivalent throw their hands in the air, body propelled into spasms of utter and uncomprehending delight. This is one of them. The remix that is. The original is the worst kind of student-friendly ironized wank.

9. Oasis – Wonderwall (Happy Hooligans Remix)

This is the sound of mixing VK and Carling. This is the sound of puking into your mate’s hood round the back of a cornershop after drinking VK and Carling. This is the sound of that mate then turning round and lamping you square in the jaw because you just puked up VK and Carling into his hood. This is the sound of the pair of you tearfully making up minutes after he’s lamped you square in the jaw for puking up VK and Carling in his hood round the back of a cornershop. This is the sound you looking back on those youthful hijinks as an old man and weeping for hours on end, wishing life was still that simple, praying for another chance to drink VK and Carling round the back of a cornershop on a Saturday night.

10. Scooter Vs Status Quo – Jump that Rock

Alright, fair enough, this isn’t an actual remix per se, but anyone who thinks that pairing the denim-clad granddaddies of turgid two-chord pub rock with the world’s most absurdly successful arena-sized hardcore actfronted by a bloke who emits all the potent sexuality of a thick erection quivering at the point of orgasmis anything but a 10/10 idea needs to take a long hard look at themselves. It’s “Whatever You Want” plastered over a Scooter track, which is sort of the sonic equivalent of washing 15 roast potatoes down with a pint of barely-mixed Bisto, but sometimes you just want to gorge yourself on thick stodge, don’t you? Life isn’t all William Basinski records and spice roasted corn chowder. And thank god for that.

Josh is on Twitter

The Ten Best Happy Hardcore Remixes Ever

This article appeared originally on THUMP UK.

Here’s a great way to spend an hour/afternoon/day/week/month/year/lifetime/afterlifetype pretty much any song title you can think of into YouTube and add “hardcore” to it. Invariably you’ll be able to listen to a unofficial bootleg of the song in question, where the bedroom remixer’s decided that the best way to improve “Happy Birthday” or “Greensleeves” or Mozart’s “Turkish March” is to inject it with a massively OTT rhythmic track that has absolutely no relation to the song in question whatsoever.

And that’s part of the joy and pleasure of this musicit gives taste a massive middle finger. It is craven and bloated, rough and ready, queasy and uneasy. It’s music for provincial fairgrounds and library car parks, music that soundtracks adolescent escapades and feats of dering-do that’ll go unrepeated. It is music as total freedom.

Which is why we’ve put together this list of our ten favorite needlessly-massive hardcore remixes of all time. If you’re in the mood for music that sounds pretty much just like a swarm of Buckfast-drunk bees repeatedly flying headfirst into a wall then you’re in luck!

1. Ultrabeat – Pretty Green Eyes (Hixxy Remix)

Let’s kick things off with an undisputed classic. We’ve written about the undeniable majesty of “Pretty Green Eyes” and it’s the song that inspires pretty much 96% of the output on this website, being as it is the perfect summation of the sad wonder of UK nightlife at its most sentimental and trashy. Hixxy’s remix is as functional as it gets but why would you fuck with a classic? You don’t slather Reggae Reggae sauce on battered cod do you?

2. Madonna – Like a Prayer (Remix)

Obviously a hardcore take on the Madonna classic is always going to be stunning. Take one of the most strangely affecting pop records ever made, whack a massively distorted kick that sounds like a concrete ping pong ball being smashed between rubberized tectonic plates underneath it, speed everything up to comedy-helium-voice levels and hey prestoyou’ve got a song that’ll perfectly soundtrack doing speed on a bouncy castle at a friend’s daughter’s christening.

3. ABBA – The Winner Takes it All (Hardstyle Hardhouse Hardcore Techno Trance Gabber Rave Version)

Do you like your remixes RAW?

Do you like your remixes PUNISHING?

Do you like your remixes TO ONLY REALLY CONTAIN A FRAGMENT OF THE SONG THEY’RE CLAIMING TO REMIX AND OTHER THAN ARE JUST A BOG STANDARD BUT ACTUALLY REALLY SICK HARDCORE RECORD?

4. Bryan Adams – Everything I Do (Remix)

Hating the original of this is the kind of thing that makes sense when you’re an overly-serious teen desperate to impress the opposite sex by overstating your own sense of self-seriousness. You like Oscar Wilde and math-rock. You dislike ITV and naff, mum-friendly balladry. By now, safely tucking into the three course meal of disappointment, regret, and failure that is life in your mid-twenties you can embrace Bryan with something that looks a bit like a smile if you squint really hard. Holy fuck, I’m old. Bryan Adams hasn’t been a reference point for anyone for over a decade. Christ. Help. Fuck. Oh God, it happened.

5. Phil Collins – Another Day In Paradise (Hardcore Terror Mix)

Is Phil Collins one of the most oddly unlikeable figures in pop culture? He exudes a certain creepiness, a kind of unshakable air of spitefulness that means the thought of spending time with him is about as attractive a proposition as having your teeth pulled out, one by one, by former Apprentice contestant Ruth Badger. In a caravan. In Solihull. With The Best of Phil Collins playing in the background. Somehow though, this aptly titled rejig is utterly stunning in its own incredibly cack-handed way. Collins’ commercial radio station’s 80s Power Hour melody is shoved into an on-the-blink blender with some rotten old gabber record and the result comes on like big Phil’s been force fed into an industrial mincer. It’s the best he’s ever sounded.

6. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge (DJ Finchy Hardcore Remix)

When you think about it, ignorance really is bliss isn’t it? If I never go to the doctors, I’m never going to be ill; if I ignore the letters that my energy provider sends me then I’ll never have to pay the bill; if I never turn up to work I can’t get bollocked for not being at work. All of which is why I want to know nothing, absolutely nothing, about the mysterious figure behind this perfectly functional hardcore refix of a song that usually makes me think long and hard about just how soft the human skull really is. DJ Finchy, I don’t want to know where you’re from or what you dream of at night or which member of Hearsay you fancied most as a pre-teen. None of that matters. What matters is that you once spent at least 15 minutes putting this remix together, and an additional five uploading it to YouTube. Because you know that art transcends the self, don’t you DJ Finchy. Yes. Yes you do.

7. Bjork – Joga (State of Emergency Mix)

Happy hardcore is essentially the aural equivalent of eating 16 double cheeseburgers in a single sitting, then glugging down the same number of cans of knock-off fizzy drink, then smoking a 20 deck of JPS, without so much as a pause for breath all before getting into one of those human gyroscopes with a battered and broken 808 for company. This feels like that, except someone also snuck Bjork in there with you and she’s having a terrible time and it’s suddenly all gone a bit Very, Very Bad Acid Trip and you’re both trying to not vomit everywhere and…well done! You’ve been sick all over Bjork! Nice one.

8. Coolio – Gangsters Paradise (2Pac Happy Hardcore Remix)

While it’s lovely to pretend that music is some kind of higher artform, a means of communicating the unspeakable, a salve for the gaping septic wound that is life itself, to do so is to ignore one crucial thing: the fact that it isn’t any of those things. Music, for most people, is nothing more than something that exists in the same space as thembe it in the office, at ASDA, or in the car. However, there are exceptions, songs which make even the most music-ambivalent throw their hands in the air, body propelled into spasms of utter and uncomprehending delight. This is one of them. The remix that is. The original is the worst kind of student-friendly ironized wank.

9. Oasis – Wonderwall (Happy Hooligans Remix)

This is the sound of mixing VK and Carling. This is the sound of puking into your mate’s hood round the back of a cornershop after drinking VK and Carling. This is the sound of that mate then turning round and lamping you square in the jaw because you just puked up VK and Carling into his hood. This is the sound of the pair of you tearfully making up minutes after he’s lamped you square in the jaw for puking up VK and Carling in his hood round the back of a cornershop. This is the sound you looking back on those youthful hijinks as an old man and weeping for hours on end, wishing life was still that simple, praying for another chance to drink VK and Carling round the back of a cornershop on a Saturday night.

10. Scooter Vs Status Quo – Jump that Rock

Alright, fair enough, this isn’t an actual remix per se, but anyone who thinks that pairing the denim-clad granddaddies of turgid two-chord pub rock with the world’s most absurdly successful arena-sized hardcore actfronted by a bloke who emits all the potent sexuality of a thick erection quivering at the point of orgasmis anything but a 10/10 idea needs to take a long hard look at themselves. It’s “Whatever You Want” plastered over a Scooter track, which is sort of the sonic equivalent of washing 15 roast potatoes down with a pint of barely-mixed Bisto, but sometimes you just want to gorge yourself on thick stodge, don’t you? Life isn’t all William Basinski records and spice roasted corn chowder. And thank god for that.

Josh is on Twitter

2 Bad Mice Remixed Altern 8 Into A Rushing Slab Of Euphoric Perfection

It’s been a quarter of a century since the masked-marauders of rave Altern 8 unleashed a record so forceful, so powerful, so potent that it somehow lives up to it’s absurdly brilliant titleFull-On Mask Hysteria.

To celebrate that all important 25th birthday, they’ve decided to remaster and repress the album, and they’ve brought in a few of their ravier mates along for the ride. Coming backed with remixes from the likes of KiNK, Shadow Dancer, and Luke Vibert, this one’s the perfect present for the Vicks-snffing hardcore-head in your life.

We’re bringing him, and you obviously, an exclusive listen to a typically deranged mix courtesy of breakbeat badboys 2 Bad Mice, who turn “Everybody” into a rushy and rushing slab of euphoric perfection. We’re certain that this one’ll have you digging out that old Global Hypercolour t-shirt.

Full-On Mask Hysteria (Remastered Edition) arrives later this month on Network/Belch.

2 Bad Mice Remixed Altern 8 Into A Rushing Slab Of Euphoric Perfection

It’s been a quarter of a century since the masked-marauders of rave Altern 8 unleashed a record so forceful, so powerful, so potent that it somehow lives up to it’s absurdly brilliant titleFull-On Mask Hysteria.

To celebrate that all important 25th birthday, they’ve decided to remaster and repress the album, and they’ve brought in a few of their ravier mates along for the ride. Coming backed with remixes from the likes of KiNK, Shadow Dancer, and Luke Vibert, this one’s the perfect present for the Vicks-snffing hardcore-head in your life.

We’re bringing him, and you obviously, an exclusive listen to a typically deranged mix courtesy of breakbeat badboys 2 Bad Mice, who turn “Everybody” into a rushy and rushing slab of euphoric perfection. We’re certain that this one’ll have you digging out that old Global Hypercolour t-shirt.

Full-On Mask Hysteria (Remastered Edition) arrives later this month on Network/Belch.

Photos Of The Beautiful Freaks At America's Biggest Gabber Festival

Photos by Justin Cole Smith

Last month, I saw an event pop up in my Facebook feed called “Gabberfest 2016: America’s Hardest.” Slated for June 18-19, the three-year-old festival promised to help “fans of the sounds too extreme for any mainstream festival find their sanctuary during two days of pure chaos,” and a “hellish inferno under the Las Vegas sun.”

A couple of my Facebook friends had said they were attending, but I knew they weren’t actually going tothe flyer was pretty goofy and the event was way out in Vegas. Still, I became super curious about what a gabber festival in America would look like in 2016. Gabbera Netherlands-born subgenre of hardcore music marked by heavily distorted kickdrums, whiplash-inducing BPMs, and no-fucks-given aggressionwas mostly popular in Europe 10 or 20 years ago, corrupting an entire generation of Dutch children.

I imagined a few different scenarios, the most likely that the actual festival would be sparsely attended, mostly by weird, angry, bald white dudes. What I found in reality was a hyper-dedicated and tight-knit scene gabber heads leftover from the larger hardcore explosion in America decades ago that either got swallowed or abandoned by more accessible electronic music genres over time.

Watch our documentary on the Rotterdam Terror Corps, Holland’s Most Badass Hardcore Collective

These lovable freaks gathered in a dive bar called Hard Hat Lounge north of the strip. Many of them were also DJing at the festival, which was thrown by Las Vegas resident Brandon Ramirez AKA the “White Ape,” with the help of a San Bernadino-based production company Techno Belligerent. Their dedication to ball-bustingly hard electronic music is so unwavering that they were even willing to put up with the 108 degree weather to rage in the parking lot.

Even though Gabberfest was organized as a pre-party to the massive EDM festival Electric Daisy Carnival, where crossover hardcore act Lenny Dee and quite a few hardstyle DJs were playing, I didn’t talk to a single person at Gabberfest who was attending EDC as well.

Chatting with some of the folks present, I felt instantly welcomed into their community, and got the sense that everyone was very optimistic about the future of their micro-scene. Even the Satanists were super nice!

Deadly Buda

THUMP: How did you get into gabber?

I guess I got into it right when it started, more or less… I threw my first rave in 1991.

How do you feel listening to gabber? Whats the perfect setting for it?

That big distorted kick drum really stimulates the fight-or-flight response so it makes dancing like a thrill ridethat’s what I like about the gabber sound. You want a big system you can jam out to.

How do you feel about the American gabber scenedo feel like it’s a unified culture?

There are all these awesome producers in America who are basically getting no attention whatsoever. One of the great things about Gabberfest is we’re getting everyone to meet up and start cooperating to make the scene bigger and better. You are seeing the unification of the scene right here.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

Technically I think it makes it worseit makes it harder to dance. I think drugs hold back any music scene, but smaller music scenes have more people dedicated to the music.

What do you think it would take for gabber to become more popular? Would you want it to be?

I think you’re seeing it happen right now.

Steven AKA Metal Jesus

How did you get into gabber? What makes it special?

I was asking friends for the hardest, fastest music and Berzerker was a a band I was given. I started seeing tags like speedcore and terrorcore, so I just started to look that shit up and that’s how I got in the scene. My first party was Angerfist’s first party in the United States at Murder the Dancefloor in 2007. Now I’m at the point where I can go to a party alone and know three or four people there.

So you feel like there’s a unified scene?

Fuck yeah.

How do you feel listening to gabber?

Oh man, I could play gabber to wake me up, and play gabber to put me to sleep.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

I dance so hard and so long that if I do do drugs, it’s gonna fuck me over big time. So just water and caffeine and make sure I get some good protein and fruit through out the day. People can do whatever the fuck they want, but from what I have seen, not very many people do hard drugs.

Tell me about how you dress to a gabber rave?

Oh I have no clueI’ll wear whatever I’m comfortable in.

Brent AKA Counterterrorist

How did you get into gabber?

I got to see Delta9 at a New Year’s party about five years ago when I first got into gabber. I found more of it online and just really went with it.

How do you feel about the American gabber scene? Do feel like it’s a unified culture?

It used to be really big and I feel like it can be again if we coordinate.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

Thats an interesting question. I have to say it’s based on the person. It can go really well or really bad. Alcohol is a big thing with gabber. Where I’m from, mostly people would do a lot of acid and listen to breakcore and stuff. Drugs can enhance .

Tell me about your clothing or style.

HK: I’ve just always done whatever the fuck I want. I don’t like to do the whole super feminine style. Just whatever is comfortable.

Brandon AKA The White Ape

How did you get into gabber?

A lot of us we just stumbled onto the mixtapes, but back then, what really hooked me was the energy and the power of hardcore music at its peak. That was 20 years ago.

How come there aren’t more women in the scene?

We have a few strong women DJs, but we could always use more women.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

Drugs are everywhere. It’s an unavoidable evil, but in the hardcore scene I don’t think it’s as much as an overt problem as in other scenes.

Helbert AKA En3gy

How did you get into gabber?

I used to have a friend who would bring back tapes from the UK and Holland in the mid-90s and tell me, “you gotta listen to this stuff.”

How do you feel about the American gabber scene? Do feel like it’s a unified culture?

It’s had its ups and downs. Once we stick together, things will start to get there again.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

It makes no difference. I’m sober half the timeunless I’m drunk.

Tell me about your style.

I grew up in the hood, so for me, it’s just urban. I’m relaxed.

Gary and Donna

How did you get into gabber?

Gary: Being in the hard dance scene and hardstyle just eventually led to this.

Donna: Artists out of LA just started to bring it out more to Texas.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

Gary: Drugs maybe just make it a little more fun. I could be sober or on anything.

Do you feel like women are properly represented in the gabber scene?

Donna: There needs to be more active women in the gabber scene. Women are scared to be more hardcore than the boys.

Tell me about what you’re wearing.

Gary: I’m gonna dress however the fuck I want. To be honest, we’re Satanists, and I just love anything dark and evil.

More photos from Gabberfest:

Adam Schwarz is a DJ based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

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