Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday Synthpop Brunch: Delete Yourself!

ARISE! DESTROY! ATARI TEENAGE RIOT IS THE COOLES...oh wait, start over again...During a tumultuous 8 years of existence, German techno-thrash trio Atari Teenage Riot became one of those rare bands whose very name perfectly summed up their sound without any outside explanation.

Formed in 1992 by Alec Empire, a talented and prolific solo artist in his own right who has released a plethora of solo albums covering a wide array of electronic and rock textures (either released under his own name or ECP and Jaguar) and featuring backup vocalist Hanin Elias and rapper Carl Crack (whose drug-related suicide in 2001 effectively spelled the end of the band), Atari Teenage Riot aimed straight for the jugular with their groundbreaking fusion of hardcore punk attitude and feral speed-techno beats.

After having made a name for themselves in their homeland with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop, Atari Teenage Riot managed to swindle themselves up a record label using a record company advance to do so. Utilizing the very aptly-named Digital Hardcore Records as a base of operations, Empire and Co. lured together a stable of similar-minded artists (EC8OR, Shizuo, Bomb 20, Speed Freak) in an attempt to politicize the youth of Germany into action to fight against the recent shift to the Right in European politics (and hey, what better way to get the kids sold on the idea radically Left-of-center ideals than lashing them with Euro-techno on steroids?).

Correctly figuring that the best way to cut through the background noise of everyday life was to make a godawful racket, Atari Teenage Riot's debut full-length release, 1996's Delete Yourself! was designed from the ground up as a sonic letterbomb that was supposed to scare the living hell out of anyone over the age of 30. By screaming at the tops of their lungs over lightning-fast breaks and power-chord-sounding synth patches (in effect, sounding like a KMFDM record played at 78 speed), Empire, Elias and Crack sought to proclaim that the German youth of 1996 were wising up to what was going on in the halls of power and weren't too happy about it.

In reality, however, listening to what was actually being shouted throughout such unintentionally hilarious Delete Yourself! tracks as "Kids Are United!," "Start The Riot," "Raverbashing," "Midijunkies" and "Cyberpunks Are Dead!" tended to undermine the intended effect of the record. Despite the amount of compressed righteous fury and coruscating sonics in their music, Atari Teenage Riot seemed just as interested in repeatedly and obnoxiously proclaiming their own bad-assed greatness than actually, you know, setting up an exchange of political ideas with the Powers That Be. Ahh, youth...

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