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Electronic Music 101 Episode 3: Hardcore

We will talk about hardcore or hardcore techno in the third part of our series. We don’t see the hardcore term in electronic music for the first time around music

Electronic Music 101 Episode 3: Hardcore
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  • PublishedJune 23, 2020

We will talk about hardcore or hardcore techno in the third part of our series. We don’t see the hardcore term in electronic music for the first time around music universe. Firstly, the term was used in punk rock style to describe a radical movement. The type brings the hardening of the music which is made because of the dynamics it contains, it also clearly and sincerely expresses the street culture and lifestyle where punk was born. The same term was used in the 80s in hip-hop to describe the tracks with the same characteristic sound structure and unity of meaning. The term was first used in the electronic music world in the late 1980s, with bands such as à;GRUMH, Pankow and Leæther Strip in the form of EBM (electronic body music). Whereas in 1985, it entered the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) stage with Sucking Energy (Hardcore Mix) on MIX Your Self/No Way Out album that is released by à;GRUMH. With the song Mescalinum United, or by its real name We Have Arrived by Marc Trauner, the term hardcore techno has arisen for the first time.

It is clear that hardcore or hardcore techno is actually a sub-type of techno, which is greatly influenced by the acid house. This sub-genre has increased its popularity over time and has succeeded to become one of the main electronic music genres (super genre) such as house, techno, d’n’b and trance. Hardcore is harder, darker and faster than normal techno. Because of the characteristic structure it has got, there is no place for this type of funky/electro bass sections that we are used to hear in techno genres. There is no definite starting in hardcore, like any other EDM ‘super genre’ has. Its rise took place in the early acid house periods, called “Madhester Club Culture”, one of the important cities of England, Manchester nightclubs and Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which have an important place in shaping the music culture of the Netherlands.

Techno has certain rules in itself musically and it does not allow to go out of it easily. House, on the other hand, is so clear that it tries to make as many people as possible happy and catch the attention with its structure. Hardcore has continued on its way without compromising from what it has become. It can be stupid, cheesy, noisy, brutal, ridiculous, exaggerated, or altogether. This aspect of Hardcore, which can’t be seen on other genres of dance music, has given it a loyal fan audience. This audience is small but it is “Hardcore”.

The speed of Hardcore starting from 150-160 BPM is one of the distinguishing features of the style. Even though the genre is not in a fast form like new beat or first wave rave, it has definitely become harsher and more threatening with deep bass parties and distorting sound than other types of dance music. Based on fast rhythm and powerful, distorted kicks in this music type, the melodic structure has been placed on the background.

Definitely it is not without a reason that Hardcore has such a fast rhythm and kicks as if they are bombing humar ears. Music gets shaped with the culture it has belong. The culture that Hardcore belongs is a culture of society that lived in the Cold Ward period. It is a fact that drugs like ecstasy and amphetamines were given to soldiers to prevent exhaustion and gain courage especially during the Second World War. In the following period of Cold War, those soldiers who were addicted to these drugs also started to use them in their civil life. This causes drugs to become widespread among the public. The widespread drug use in the younger generation has exposed the acceleration of metabolism and the whole body alongside with hallucinations and many other effects. These effects also transformed people’s aesthetics and lifestyles. Now the music was more aggressive, clear and fast. Psychoactive effects arising from the use of drugs brought music to the background and revealed a more intense, ecstatic musical work.

Hardcore divided into two sub-genres over time. The first of these, rave XL, is the sum of the music genres in rave style. Rave XL is a structure that includes new beat, true hardcore techno, darkcore, breakbeat hardcore, freetechno and acidcore. Although there was a sub-genre of hardcore, it became more popular than it, and also showed off in the media fairly between 1990 and 1992. This period is seen as the peak of the rave type. This popularity with the Rave genre brought with the huge parties called as the same name, Raves. This formed culture created its own clothing and lifestyle what we used to see today in the nightclubs such as night-wear sunglasses, whistles and screams, big size clothes, oversize clothings, bright colours etc.

The second type of what Hardcore has formed is gabber and the early gabber which is related to the first that are hard dance types such as speedcore, terrorcore, nu style, hardstyle, jumpstyle. This style adopts more serious, and an extreme musical approach as well. This style which is focused more on the intensity of music, has also tried to protect the culture it belongs from the external influences. Moving pop up raves (drug parties) events are stuck in small and certain night clubs day by day. However, with the increasing popularity of electronic music, mega dance events came to life again and brought back the old rave spirit even if making it in a different way. Mescalinum United, which is one of the important names of this genre and officially uses the hardcore name together with techno for the first time, is also the founder of the label Planet Core Productions. Marc Trauner, who published more than 500 pieces with this record company, made important contributions to the genre. After openning Trauner’s record company in 1989, Industrial Strength Records, established by Lenny Dee in New York in 1991, enabled genre to develop in the U.S.A. and moved New York to an important place in the early American Hardcore stage.

In the same period with these developments in the USA, Dutch electronic music producer Paul Elstak founded Rotterdam Records, the first hardcore techno record company of the Netherlands. Elstak and his friend Rob Fabrie, or The Headbanger with their stage name, have changed the classical hardcore structures. The tracks they made had extravagantly saturated bass sections and a higher speed than usual, which we now call this style “early hardcore”. At the time when it first appeared, it was called as Gabber or Gabba. Alongside with gabber and hardcore in the same year, which increases its popularity in Europe day by day, Rotterdam Records, established in 1992, organized rave party  that is named Final Exam, which can be considered as milestone of this type. The importance of this party is that the ID&T record company, which will be established later, has laid its foundations. ID&T record company started to make the iconic Thunderdome rave event series, which can be seen as the continuation of the Final Exam, and the compilation album series with the same name, which is including the important names of this type. This project had been so successful that four successive compilation albums were released only in 93.

Gabber, also known as gabba, is used as “good friend” originally in Dutch. But in the common sense, it has become a word that is used to describe hooligan, unemployed or lower-class people.Becoming popular among the proletarian younger generation in the Netherlands and especially in Rotterdam, the term gained the opposite meaning within this generation and started to be carried with the “badge of pride” as an opposite attitude. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the two most important cities of the Netherlands and there is always a conflict between these two cities. We see the conflicts in the most obvious way through Feyenoord and Ajax in football, and through gabba in music. In the early stages of Gabba in the Netherlands, “Where The Fuck Is Amsterdam?” track, which is almost the anthem of this type that is made by Euromasters, allows us to see this conflict easily.

As I mentioned in the last article; the music should be understood not by reading, but through listening and experiencing in my opinion, you can follow the playlist that I made for this article, where we examined the hardcore type, from Mixmag Turkey’s Spotify profile.

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Techno Airlines

Founded in 2018, Techno Airlines is an online music publisher and community platform that is dedicated to exhibiting the worldwide Techno music genre. TechnoAirlines creates a service ecosystem and content for more than three million music fans per month by combining high-quality videos, music, and content with online tools.

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