Hardcore Hoedown

Computronica! It's perfect for surfing Edge City.

Now that the world (or, rather, a decidedly specialized slice of the

world) has gotten Alec Empire's obnoxious musical message, he's faced

with the perhaps insurmountable task of letting us know why we should

continue to care. Musically, what that boils down to is not just

distinguishing his crew from the run of gabber muck but distinguishing

his own particular brand of caterwaul from itself. In short, there has

to be enough distinction on 60 Second Wipeout to make it

imperative that we buy it as the second chapter to Atari Teenage Riot 's

1997 debut, Burn, Berlin, Burn! Sadly, it's pretty darn


That doesn't mean it's a bad record nor even that it doesn't generate

its own identity. The album's calling card is its attempt to approximate

the mind-sucking rush of a live ATR show by blending most of the tracks

together. I love how "Revolution Action" (RealAudio excerpt)

slides into "By Any Means Necessary"

(RealAudio excerpt) with some exciting between-song patter after you think the

song has already started. It kicks off a veritable hardcore hoedown.

Another technique I dig is grinding down the middle of, say,

"Ghostchase" (RealAudio excerpt) into the kind of ambient sludge that slows down Ministry

albums. You think the song is over and that the stasis is merely a

bridge to the next song. But then the chanty chorus returns, lending a

rather songful quality. It happens a lot on the album, so much so that

you constantly have to look at your counter to see when a song actually


But it does get old rather quickly. This may be because by the time they

get to the sludgy stasis (usually two or three minutes in), it's a good

place to end the song -- period. Used back-to-back, the stop and start

gadgetry of each individual track adds up to a somewhat aimless

impression. Shorter lengths would no doubt enhance the f--k-off power of

Atari Teenage Riot's increasingly rockish bursts. Ho-hum ... another

record from Electronicus that could be cut by at least a third.

Still, I'm upping this a notch because they really do have a great, dare

I say even danceable, rock 'n' roll record in them. They certainly get

more mileage out of the ubiquitous "Oh Mickey, you're so fine" backbeat

than most drum 'n' bassheads. My friend, who is a gabber/death-metal

expert, thinks Empire is a sellout. He also thinks that Alec should go

all out and record a party anthem to make Fatboy Slim sweat and purists

retch. Rob Cavallo, give this man a call.