Gabber This!

Power to the people on the dance floor!

The Digital Hardcore label has been responsible for putting a face on the

ferociously anonymous music of the hardcore-techno genre called "gabber."

In fact, at this stage in gabber's development, Alec Empire and his

flagship band,

Atari Teenage Riot, have rallied a roster of crazies behind them that has

the potential to rival

Warhol's, John Waters' or Edward D. Wood Jr.'s. So what better time than

now to round them all up on one handy compilation?

Empire bookends You've Got The Fucking Power with tracks from ATR at

the start and his own "Hard Like It's A Pose" at the end just to show you

who's really got the fucking power. The ATR are exemplary, 200-plus BPM,

hardcore ravers showcasing their simpleminded anarcho-politics and

rat-a-tat-tatting drum & bass beats. And the Empire track sounds fine

when there's not a 70-minute solo album attached to it.

But some of their brethren and sistren have already surpassed Daddy DHR in

subtlety and just plain interest. My favorite is Shizuo. His

anti-extravaganza was my favorite live show of 1997 and was probably the

closest I'll ever come to witnessing the bedlam that Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du

Printemps" caused May 29, 1913. The raver kids were there to get

pile-driven, but because Shizuo's tracks sound like an ATR song played on a

crappy boombox at the back of the stage, they began to pelt Hammer and his

motley crew with drinks when it was clear

that his lo-fi sludge would not allow them to bang their bodies.

"The Man" is very much in keeping with this aesthetic and is easily my

favorite cut on the compilation. The bass flails out of pristine control;

the watered-down beat patterns follow a logic only pre-competent Shaggs

drummer Helen Wiggin could understand; and a fuzzy Anime voice mumbles and

sings "Shizuo's the man!" over and over. By trading energy and volume for a

perverse catchiness, Shizuo proves that he most definitely does not got the

fucking power, and we're the better for it.

My other favorite track is Bomb 20's "You Killed Me First" which gets its

name from a great Richard Kern flick (kudos for sampling the scene where

Lung Leg offs Karen Finley) and sounds like an attempt to fuse Negativland

found-speech play with DHR caterwaul. Every other track on this compilation

overstays its welcome but each one gives up some sonic detail worth hearing

twice. So this is the perfect stocking-stuffer for that gabber dabbler in

your social circle. And it has a great selling-point that practically no

other techno-identified release can boast -- a 33 running length.