Techno music is capable of evoking many different moods. It can make you want to dance. It can be hypnotic. It can be great chill-out music. It can make you scratch your head. But for all that, one of the few moods to come across in techno is pure anger. Punk could do it. So could hip-hop. For the most part though, techno has either been too cold or too busy with hedonism to appeal to that dark side. The side of you that just wants to go nuts and break things.
This is changing, though, with hard-core groups like Atari Teenage Riot and Alec Empire. It’s brutal techno. Beats fly at you at a crushing pace while the bass slams into your body with all the force of the fist punctuated by bursts of noise.
Kid 606 adds his own distinct touch to hard-core techno with his debut CD down with the scene. (Ipecac) While it isn’t everyone’s tastes, Kid 606 has managed to create a CD that definitely stands out and hits a nerve.
Kid 606 makes his music purely on his laptop. He takes samples and sounds and runs them through music software, manipulating and combing them (or more accurately smashing them together) into songs. Actually, songs may not be the right term for them; bursts of energy, noise and sound is a better description.
It sounds as if it could be unlistenable, and this is definitely music to be taken in small doses. But if you listen closely, there’s intelligence and even a sense of songcraft lurking under all the intense noise. There’s also a great sense of humor.
This is apparent in the titles of the songs. Among 17 tracks, there are names like Chart Topping Radio Hit. This is a 2-minute burst of pure static. There’s also Luke Vibert Can Kiss My Indie-Punk Whiteboy Ass, an assault on techno-purists/snobs, and the hilarious spoof off Public Enemy, It’ll Take Millions In Plastic Surgery To Make Me Black.
But people don’t buy CDs for the names of songs though. They buy them for what the songs sound like. Again, this isn’t for everyone. Kid 606 has all the unfocused energy of a 5-year-old after a 12 pack of Mountain Dew and all the anger of a hard-core punk. Beats fly out of the speakers at a furious pace, beating the listener into submission. Samples are buried under layers of distortion and static that border on the painful.
When Kid 606 calms down, there are a lot of interesting moments on down with the scene. Kidrush has a sampled voice detailing the conviction of noted hacker Kevin Mitnick under the fast-paced noise. It sounds more like a manifesto demanding his release. GQ on the EQ tones down the aural assault for a funkier beat with synth-sounds straight out of the Beastie Boy hit Intergalactic.
There are also songs that allow the listener to release pent-up anger. Two Fingers In the Air Anarchy Style creates a sound as if the listener was trapped in a video-game from hell. Bleeps and bloops are distorted and shoot out of the speakers with all the force of a bomb. The aptly-named Hard-core sounds like television static. Fortunately it’s only about a minute long.
This is experimental techno right out on the fringe and most people will cringe or run out of the room when they hear it. But this album and Kid 606 show the wide range of styles and sounds in electronic music and provide a great way to vent off all the anger after a bad night out. The CD just needs a warning though: Best In Small Doses.
This article appeared in the September 14, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.