April 22, 2024

Atari Teenage Riot – Reset

10th Feb 2015


The first track, J1M1, encapsulates the appeal of the Ataris. A cheesy happy-hardcore tune lasts all of thirty seconds before it is swamped in chugging guitar and political imprecations shouted alternately by the boy / girl front act. The beat stays, all ravey and driving, with the cheese tune re-emerging every so often. Then again, the second track, Street Grime, is a good example too – a massively charging dance beat comes and goes as they tell us “We live in a world of pure hype”. The pace slows and speeds, giving a sense of urgency. Of course, the third track…….. and so on through techno slammers, gabba and punk.

I was a late-comer to the appeal of the Atari Teenage Riot, not discovering them till I heard Alec Empire’s solo album, Intelligence and Sacrifice, in 2001 – a bowel-loosening disc. The Ataris want to tear down the walls, smash up the systems of repression and make a free creative universe. How much they achieve is down to how much they inspire and I’m afraid that, at this stage, they may be preaching to the converted. The only fresh ears might be fans of early Moby who will totally identify with the music and might pick up the torch – but there ain’t any of them around. Rage Against The Machine fans, who will love this, are likely to already be sympathisers.

That said, I love this sound; forceful, in your face, arrogant, exciting. If that inspires you to start taking bricks off those walls, go for it. They have straight forward messages that sound almost naïve in a world shaded with greys but, in their simplicity, cut through to the essentials we shouldn’t forget. After half an hour I come to believe the Atari world view again – yes, there really are forces of oppression waiting to kick your door in and trample on opposing voices. There always have been and what are you going to do about it? If you doubt it – look at the UK, where the voice of political opposition comes from the same social group and has the same interests as the incumbents, their appeal based solely on the promise of bullying the weakest.

This is still largely Alec Empire’s show but there are new and newish voices here – MC Rowdy Superstar and Nic Endo. The sound is still a chaotic pile up of rhythm and noise, lurching out of control. Much of the album is inspired by the reactions to Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, as exemplars of how power deals with challenge. Kinda makes you angry, doesn’t it, and freezes the blood. The Ataris just get angry. Remember that being German gives an insight into surveillance states and media manipulation. Erase Your Face, the culmination, ties up the message of creative paranoia and resistance. That said, they don’t blame the tools – this is a digital band: “Some say that computers are destroying humanity but we say that computers are controlled by men and can be used to help humanity”. Closing track, We Are From The Internet is the sole uplifting track, a raving thumper that would fill the dancefloor in an alternate universe, giving a message of individual power and ability.

Play loud and be prepared for it to slam you down and lift you up.


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