Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Personal History of Breakcore Part 1

Inspired by a fellow blogger Love and Rage's list of all time favorite punk tracks, I wanted to take a trawl through the Breakcore scene looking some of my favorite tracks and in the process compile my tale on a 'must have' list of breakcore.

Delete Yourself! - Atari Teenage Riot (1995)

I don't really listed to Atari Teenage Riot (ATR) much these days, but back in the day – they were rarely of the stereo. I tended to listed to more bootlegs of band member Alec Empire's DJ sets that their studio albums, but their first album, Delete Yourself! Is great. The opening track 'Start the Riot!' with its totally OTT super-fast drum sample was a clear announcement that this sound was going to take no prisoners. The album was a tour-de-force for it's time, and while it sounds a little tame by todays standards, it set a benchmark of mashup that would, for me, open the story of breakcore. It was not just the sound I identified with, I was also taken with their strident anti-Nazi stance and the mixture of punk/metal/techno sounds. It was punk with electronics and I liked it and wanted more. When I finally got the see them play live (in the Bristol Bierkeller supported by Lolita Storm) it was amazing. The band gave it their all and the gig was not only loud and proud, but was as full on as I had imagined. My ears were ringing for days afterwards. I now have tinatus – thanks ATR!

Bomb20 – Field Manual (1998)

This is a definitive album in the evolution of the breakcore sound. Keeping with the punk vibe, its young, angry and rough around the edges. More that rough around the edges, its rough through and through. At the time of creation, Bomb20 was 19, angry and it shows in his sound. A lurching mishmash of samples, beats, breaks and turns - great stuff! I feel it began to define the breakcore sound by establishing the broken beat structure, the frenetic jumping from one break to another that is at the center of true breakcore. Its a great album and an essential part of any breakcore collection.

Parasite – Baby 9mm (2001)

Ok, so the guy is a mate of mine, but that does not diminish the impact of his sound. I pick this on it's quality and nothing else. Period. This was Parasite's first 'proper' album (as in not a CDR) and was released by Peace Off. Until now, the breakcore sound was quite a blunt instrument - it was a big sound that came at you pretty fast. What Baby 9mm shows is that it can be subtle, yet distorted. It can sound almost laidback while still being broken. Parasite brought a lot of hip-hop and jungle influences into the mix while aided the evolution of the sound.

Venetian Snares – Higgins Ultra Low Track Glue Funk Hits 1972-2006 (2002)

So I was listening to breakcore and pretty much exclusively listening to DHR to get my fix. But after a while it stopped giving me the same buzz. It was as if the sound, while dynamic and exciting had stopped moving forward. Then I heard Snares – and boy, was it a revelation. Track one of Higgins Ultra Low Funk... begins with an opera singer effusing, "Junglist!" while the breaks crash and smash around her. This sound was a revelation. It took breakcore to a new level. Set it fully apart from other forms of dance music. It also meant that the sound was still alive and had plenty of places left to go.

Various Artists – Ballroom Blitz (2003)

Not the work of one artist, but a compilation of many. There is a tendency to look down on compilation albums as a lesser work than the original setting. Not so here. The whole was definably greater that the sum of the parts. Death$ucker (Parasite's label) gather together some amazing performers – some know and some unknown, and crammed them together. Its got lots of different styles, the anthemic sound of Parasite's own 'Strong Like a Lion' to the irreverent and wonderfully OTT 'Bohemian Crapsody' by Sickboy. I think it set a strong standard for the scene that, as a result, forced to to rise higher in response. Plus it's great to masup to!

PS - Parasite has set up his own blog, that covers him and his projects - - plus he's also setup the Bristol Breakcore blog for the local scene - - check 'em out!

No comments: