Dec 2011 28

Atari Teenage Riot - Is This Hyperreal?Atari Teenage Riot
Category: Digital Hardcore / Industrial
Album: Is This Hyperreal?
Stars: 4
Blurb: 10 years later, with very little changed in the world, Atari Teenage Riot return to challenge the system once again.


The last several years have given us a great many bands and artists in the underground music scene making a return to the fold after long absences. The purveyors of the digital hardcore style, Atari Teenage Riot join the ranks with Is This Hyperreal?, the band’s first release of new material in a decade. Bidding a less-than-fond farewell in 2000 as the quartet dissolved, culminating in the death of MC Carl Crack and the rest of the band embarking on solo careers, ATR’s end left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of those with an ear for their politically charged, abrasive gabber- and punk-influenced sound. Now, founder Alec Empire with longtime partner in noise Nic Endo and new member CX KiDTRONiK update their message for the 21st century with an album that is no less raucous, but perhaps more thoughtfully arranged and atmospheric than ever before.

From the onset, ATR gets right in your face with the brutal opener of “Activate!,” blasting off with an explosion of guttural synth bass, hard pounding beats, noisy guitar loops, and each band member shouting against government and military control with all the fervor of young band looking to set the world afire. In a similar vein, “Codebreaker” screams of the band’s gabber leanings with distorted kicks and clipping claps pounding away beneath Empire’s and Steve Aoki’s violent outbursts of sociopolitical disdain, with Endo’s squelching noise creating a backdrop of bass-laden atmosphere, while “Re-arrange Your Synapses” begins with KiDTRONiK delivering a hyperactive rant against racism before the thrashing beats and bass blast through the speakers with all the force of a jackhammer, Endo’s and Empire’s distorted diatribes grating the ears in the best possible way. It all sounds like Atari Teenage Riot by-the-numbers, doesn’t it? And indeed, as further topics of class warfare, sexism, media control, and capitalist corruption, all delivered through a distinct absence of melody in favor of raging screams and venomous spoken word, it’s certainly nothing new for ATR. What does help Is This Hyperreal? stand out as an album is the presence of varying modes of industrialized soundscapes and electronic ambience. The rhythmic throb of the title track pulsates like an eerie nightmare as Endo and Empire remain restrained with only the occasional release of aggression toward the ending of German megaphone vocals, while “Black Flags” possesses an almost bluesy feel as an ascending guitar in the chorus and a marching beat makes for a slow but powerful track. As well, “Digital Decay” struts along with a sly, sensuous dance beat, Endo’s voice hovering erotic and sensory, while “Collapse of History” reveals the slightest trace of melody atop the moderate breakbeats giving way to an abstract coda of a machine lamenting the folly of society succumbing to subjugation.

Is This Hyperreal? bears all of the benchmarks of the digital hardcore sound as only ATR can deliver, infusing them with just enough variety to distinguish itself from the past. Some might be unwilling to accept the band without founding members Hanin Elias and Carl Crack, while others might be put off by the album’s excessive volume. Given ATR’s penchant for angst-ridden slogans and antiauthoritarian attitude, it should come as no surprise that little has changed in the decade since we last heard from them – not much in the world has changed, so why should they? On the other side of that, the music and the message demonstrates an even greater scorn for the lack of action taking place to combat the ills of corrupt sociopolitical systems, making it as belligerent and as relevant as ever. In other words, Atari Teenage Riot is back right when the world needs them!
Track list:

  1. Activate!
  2. Blood in My Eyes
  3. Black Flags (feat. Boots Riley)
  4. Is This Hyperreal?
  5. Codebreaker (feat. Steve Aoki)
  6. Shadow Identity
  7. Re-arrange Your Synapses
  8. Digital Decay
  9. The Only Slight Glimmer of Hope
  10. Collapse of History

Atari Teenage Riot Website
Atari Teenage Riot Facebook
Atari Teenage Riot Twitter
Atari Teenage Riot/Alec Empire SoundCloud
Dim Mak Records Website
Dim Mak Records Facebook
Dim Mark Records Twitter!/dimmakrecs
Digital Hardcore Recordings Website
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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