Thursday, May 23, 2019

donder en bliksem (subculture - the meaning of hardstyle)

"this is the thunder running through your veins"

trance + gabba (not enough gabber) + self-empowerment pop = hardstyle

not so much positive hardcore as positive-thinking hardcore

he might be bald and he might use distorted kickdrums, but this man's soul is pure uncut Katy Perry

What's the obsession with thunder? Is this some kind of Norse thing?

This dude is supposed to be the pioneer of H-style

It's like if Marc Acardipane = Motorhead or Sabbath, these dudes = Triumph or Survivor.

Some of the tunes in this set get a tad more interesting on the production front - skidding screeches, hysterical builds, a kind of serrated hygiene

With the "weekend warriors" Valhalla vibe, some of it reminds slightly of what I think they now call "power metal" - groups inspired by melodic metal from the Eighties.... Dio, Iron Maiden, that epic anthemic rousing sound, with galloping rhythms... boy's own stories of glory, an emptying out of the blues base residue in metal, the raunchless evacuation of sex too -  even that crude phallic-pelvic thrust sexuality  - in favor of chaste adventurism.

Was right all those years ago to connect gabba with Nintendo etc

Superheroism as a cheap rousing high

That "No Guts No Glory" looks like Disneyland for slightly older kids

Wait a minute...

"Children's entertainment" as per Alan Kirby

One tune in that Headhunterz set is titled "Dragonborn" - so yeah, very sword 'n' sorcery, Game of Thrones-y, and  Iron Dream-y.

"Dragonblood unites us all" - a  rally cry at this hardstyle festival Defqon -  which is nomadic between the Nederlands, Chile and Australia.

The relentless triumphalism - the density of "up!" words in the lyrics - the crescendo upon crescendo  - the sterile sturm und drang of the sound - it all adds up to a sort of Red Bull / Irn Bru Energy vision of fascism

Hmmm this lot seem unwholesome

Them and all

Back on the amusement park for bigger kids angle,  the baroque arpeggiated stab-patterns go up up up and down down and up up up - very much like a Big Dipper type rollercoaster

That same mix of extreme exhilaration and total control - a thrill-ride to which you are subjected, trapped inside.

Soars galore, peaks and plummets.

Sound is too bright, too clean, frictionless

Super-melodic in a Euro-melodious way, as Spiro in the comments to "kicky and volky (hardcore, intellectualized" post says

Although here it reminds me less of folk and more of "The Final Countdown" / "Winds of Change" /"Life is Life" / "One Vision"

Now if there was yodelling in it i'd probably dig it more

Wait a minute...


The Auto-Tune on this one gives it a yodelly sheen and slide

vistas of Edam-colored faces

postscript 6/13

a recent commenter to the "kicky and volky, hardcore intellectualized" post argues that hardstyle is "pure" music, enjoyed for its own sake, devoid of reference to external reality - and that attempts to analyse it ideologically are impositions from outside...

but (putting aside for now the counter-point that the idea of "pure" or non-referential art/entertainment is itself an ideological construct, hardly devoid of real-world implications or consequences), even a cursory glance across the hardstyle spectrum reveals the opposite - the music and the subculture is draped and threaded-through with ideology, it drips with the stuff: the self-empowerment personal uplift themes, the militaristic themes, the Medievalist throwback emotions of glory and honor and revenge

the common theme (as Spiro in the comments here notes) is POWER: whether its sheer sonic might, or positivity / personal empowerment, or the military and quasi-totalitarian references, the combat postures and into-battle vibes, the pyrotechnical spectacle etc etc


Charlie w said...

Radical Redemption and War Force make me feel all yucky. The latent Fascism made flesh. Strapping, aryan men and pretty young girls. A general air of call to arms of white, European youth against the invaders, protecting our hedonism against their Sharia. Grot!

Spiro said...

Thanks for the shout referencing my last comment! I agree with Charlie W above - there seems to be a barely disguised fascist aura to the harder side of hardstyle. The militant imagery and artist names, the huge, almost rally-like events, the obsession with the concept of power (event names such as Supremacy and Dominator). Even the logos - there was one viral picture going around a few years back of a girl who had numerous symbols of various hardstyle brands tattooed on her leg, and the first thing I thought was how much they look like facist symbols of bygone mid 20th century regimes. Of course, accusations of fascism in the Eurohardcore nuum are nothing new as you mention in Energy Flash. But I never get that vibe from 90s gabba - the vibe is purely aggression for aggression's sake, whereas in current hardstyle it seems a lot more sinister. This seems particularly odd because from my perspective, the European nations where this music originates seem so much more left-leaning compared to the UK.