Beyond The 303

The German duo Hardfloor were known during their mid-'90s heyday as techno's one-trick pony, slaves to Roland's legendary "acid box," the TB-303 bass synthesizer. They built their reputation with classics such as 1993's 11-minute screeching acid epic "Acerperience," a track that spawned hoards of imitators in techno and trance scenes around the world.

So What?! proves that Hardfloor — composed of Dusseldorf, Germany, residents Oliver Bondzio and Ramon Zenker — can do plenty more than just twiddle 303 knobs over stomping 4/4 beats. The 10 cuts on this, their fifth LP, run the gamut from peak-hour tracks such as "Communication 2 None" (RealAudio excerpt) to the spliffed-out downtempo funk of "Dear Mc Bain" (RealAudio excerpt). The duo's omnipresent acid sounds have given way to a warmer, synthetic soup of electronic breakbeats and jungle-style sub-bass blasts, as on "Smash the Gnat." So What?!'s title track proves that Hardfloor can still bang it out old-school style, with a cheeky spoken word bit ("This is a Hardfloor production/ We're still doing the same shit/ Nothing has changed/ So what? What?!") recited over a building, twirl-your-glowsticks acid squiggle.

So What?! is essential listening for techno heads who wince at vocals and radio-friendly hooks. Bondzio and Zenker offer an unsullied style of electronic music that manages to maintain a high level of groove without neglecting the dance floor's needs.