Advanced Dealer and Kutski - Killscreen

Advanced Dealer and Kutski – Killscreen

I’ve always associated the name Kutski with UK or Happy Hardcore and never expected him to produce something slightly darker. Looks like I was wrong. Kutski’s collaboration with Advanced Dealer, titled ‘Killscreen’, is filled with a flurry of effective combos that hit some targets nicely. Although I wouldn’t say the track is completely flawless, I did think it was a decent track.

Let’s start by talking about MIDI sounds. I think MIDI sounds are more likely to be enjoyed by an older crowd that has played games which make those sounds when they were very young, because it evokes nostalgic feelings. I can applaud Advanced Dealer and Kutski for creating original MIDI melodies. However, I can’t help but think that the MIDI melody should make reference to actual games at some point of the track. After all, I was able to feel more joy from listening to a Hardstyle track like ‘Game Over’, which makes a direct and obvious reference to Tetris.

The other element that bothered me in this track was the fact that Advanced Dealer and Kutski decided to distort, repeat or tune a vocal snippet and a siren, then turn it into notes of its melodic segments. The melody was enjoyable, but not when those sounds were repeated in such frequent succession. I think they should have made things less harsh and forceful, because it takes away the fun it started off with. Or, at least make the transition from fun to sinister a bit smoother.

Now that I’m up to the fun part, let’s talk about the positive aspects of this track. Around the one-minute mark, I could instantly identify a Kutski style and the speed added excitement. Apparently, the vocal snippets and sirens actually sound less annoying when the track is sped up. Perhaps it’s because I was more able to identify those sounds as a vocal snippet or siren when it was at a much slower tempo and the brevity of these effects made things forgivable. Or, perhaps I’m just a biased Hardcore lover who finds tracks at a faster tempo more energetic. Who knows?

Do I have any complaints about the kicks? Nope. In fact, I adore how its trails are followed by the Mario-ate-a-mushroom MIDI effects. Around the 3.05 mark, it sounds as if the kicks and MIDI effects have tug-of-war, before exploding into the Hardcore kicks reverted to the initial tempo.

I would look forward to hearing more Kutski collaborations with Traxtorm artists. Alas, I have a feeling that it would be a rarity and that’s what makes this track quite noteworthy.

Mad Dog - Not My Tempo

Mad Dog – Not My Tempo

This title is the best phrase that can be used to describe the feeling I get when I’m in the mood for Hardcore and no other genre satisfies that craving. It instantly drew me in and when I finally found the time to press play, I was in for the ride of my life. It’s as if Mad Dog himself could read my mind.

Although it wouldn’t be surprising for anyone to hear crude lyrics in a Hardcore track, Mad Dog still managed to deliver the shock value. This is because, while some tracks rely on such narratives to make dull melodies sound edgy, Mad Dog’s sounds were just as violent as the sound bites that were used. The track has random yet well-timed tempo changes that can make hearts drop from the fall and make heads explode from the surprises. Also, the parts that were between 180BPM-200BPM just instantly puts a stake through my heart and allows all of my frustrations to evaporate into thin air.

Mad Dog’s release is jam packed with drama and entertaining from start to finish. I would advise anyone who loves Hardcore or Mad Dog’s creations to resist listening to this online and wait until you hear this live from the producer himself, especially if he tours in your area often. If Mad Dog ever played this track exclusively in a performance, I can only imagine how crazy the crowd went and envy them, from this indoor environment I’m currently writing in.

‘Not My Tempo’ has been released on Traxtorm Records.

The Outside Agency – Prepare To Die / Borrowed Time

The Outside Agency – Prepare To Die / Borrowed Time

Published on Beatsmedia 17/3/2015: http://beatsmedia.com/the-outside-agency-prepare-to-die-borrowed-time-%E2%80%8Eep/

The Outside Agency have proven themselves to be the pioneers of innovation in the Hardcore music scene with their latest releases “Borrowed Time” and “Prepare to Die.” Unlike most Hardcore tracks, the kicks do not rely on loudness or cliché sounds to achieve their shock value. Instead, the drum and bass influences are far more pronounced and every element or layer in each track comes together to form a brilliant coherence.

For those who enjoy mysterious, intense, and dark melodies, “Borrowed Time” offers more than enough mystery to leave you breathless. Echoing female vocal snippets in this track add a brilliant psychedelic touch. In fact, the piano and guitar melodies are so hypnotic that one might not realise that there are ghastly wails in the background until the second play through. It’s almost as if listeners will be able to hear something new each time they play the track.

“Prepare To Die” has a much more pronounced kick, yet the way it scatters and spreads is simply astounding despite its subtlety – especially in the introduction of the track. If the vibrations can lightly massage my ears through my headphones, I imagine this would sound immensely euphoric when played live.

The Outside Agency’s “Borrowed Time/Prepared to Die” EP was released March 2nd, 2015 and is currently available in both vinyl and digital formats.

Kasparov – Infected by Madness Remixes

Kasparov – Infected by Madness (F. Noize and System Overload Remix)

Published on Beatsmedia 12/3/2015: http://beatsmedia.com/kasparov-infected-by-madness-f-noize-system-overload-remix/

Kasparov’s ‘Infected by Madness’ was first released on the ‘This is Hardcore’ album, part of the campaign with the same name. It’s Neophyte Records’ way of compiling the best songs from their top artists with the theme, in order to introduce the best of Hardcore to new listeners. After the track’s release, Kasparov launched a remix contest so that producers could be featured on a special ‘Infected by Madness’ remix EP. The EP will also feature remixes from Neophyte’s artists Amnesys, SRB, and F. Noize & System Overload.

In this review, I will be focusing on F. Noize’s & System Overload’s remix. I’m a high-speed tempo junkie when it comes to Hardcore music. In fact, it’s one of many reasons why I love F. Noize & System Overload’s version of Kasparov’s track. F. Noize & System Overload gave me just the rough kicks I needed with a tempo that I can jump to vigorously. Halfway through the track, there’s an excellent breakdown where the pace changes slightly, with muffled wobbles reminiscent of Dubstep influences. I also love the way the screeches are twisted in the breakdown. Yet, despite this slight change in pace, the darkness and suspense of the track hardly subsides, so the breakdown can really serve as an excellent break point for ravers on the dance floor.

Unfortunately, the weakness of this remix is quite similar to the original it was based on: The flatness of the melody. If I heard this track played once in a set, I would love it to pieces, but I probably wouldn’t put this track on repeat for too long.

Kasparov’s EP of ‘Infected by Madness’ remixes will be released on the 12th of March.

Kicks 10/10
Suspense 10/10
Melody 7/10
Overall 9/10

Tieum - Fuck Ur Own Face

Tieum and Axl – Spider

Published on Beatsmedia 15/12/2014:
http://beatsmedia.com/tieum-axl-spider/

Although the Hardcore scene is mostly dominated by very dark themes and sounds, there are some tracks that incorporate a great deal of hilarity. To me, Tieum & Axl’s ‘Spider’ is one of the funniest Hardcore tracks of all time. I couldn’t wipe the big grin off my face when I heard this.

This song tells the story of a person who suddenly saw a spider, tried to kill it, ran away from it, then decided to try killing it again. With a country twang in both the guitar and vocals, the track clearly paints the picture of a countryman’s room in a wooden house built on barren land. After the breakdown, the vocalist screams like a warrior and the kicks come in. I could fully imagine the poor man chasing a jumping spider around the house like a madman. It also has some random group chants of “hoi, hoi, hoi”, which could be placing further emphasis on the great war between man and spider.

The intense Hardcore tempo, fierce kicks and entertaining story will flip any dance floor upside down. Gotta love it when Hardcore artists mix things up a bit!

Rating: 10 out of 10

DJ Mad Dog

Mad Dog Review | Holiday Review Series: Post 17

Mad Dog is one of my favourite Hardcore artists. In this post, I’m going to tell you how my admiration for this artist was ignited.

As a person who hasn’t listened to Hardcore for long, I first heard of Mad Dog’s name from the ‘This Is Hardcore’ album released by Neophyte Records. The track ‘Agony’ starts off with accursed death chants, then explodes with a scream and a high siren-like sound. The arrangements in this piece perfectly represents how suppressed hate can build up and be released into violent anger. My favourite part is the incorporation of that old-school horror organ, melodic style, and excruciating scream in the background. In the breakdown, the notes have some sort of click to them, which greatly complements the claps that get added in. Even the bass varies as the track builds up.

The next track that I fell in love with was ‘The Flow’. I heard the Advanced Dealers remix of the track first when it was announced as part of Mad Dog’s album ‘Rudeness: Hardcore Beyond Rules’, before I looked up the original. The Advanced Dealers remix features an electric guitar solo, and I always love it when electronic music producers incorporate rock. It’s has a higher tempo than that of the original, and I usually find Hardcore songs at that tempo very addictive. Of course, I enjoyed the instrumental component of the original mix equally. The suspenseful break down features violins, light and muffled piano notes, as well as ringing bells. This effectively increases haunting suspense until the ultimate build up and chorus release. Honestly, the original mix and remix of ‘The Flow’ are tracks that allow others to hear how Hardcore can contrast the beautiful and the dark to trigger highly emotional responses and be extremely memorable.

The track that prompted me to write this Mad Dog review post, was yet another release from a second ‘This is Hardcore’ album with the ‘Rebellious’ sub-title or theme. Mad Dog’s second contribution to the album was titled ‘Rewind’.

The most surprising element was Mad Dog’s modification of what I think is a baby’s wailing cry. After all, the sound of a crying baby is often heart-wrenching because it comes from a pure and innocent soul, calling for help and unable to express it in any other way. When modified electronically in such a manner, it seems to become a cry of a suppressed beast. Isolated from the world, unaccepted and helpless. Finally, there’s another adorably cheeky element in the ending. All of a sudden, Mad Dog decided to add a funky tune with the rap lyrics: “And if you don’t like it, I really don’t give a damn”. It definitely fits well with the theme for the album since it hijacks the genre with a random insert.

Mad Dog. I suppose even the name fits his production style too. He may be mad, but he was born as man’s best friend. I look forward to hear more brilliant tunes from this creative Hardcore producer!

Update (1/7/2014): Mad Dog’s ‘Rewind’ was played as part of the Defqon.1 Netherlands 2014 End Show

Convict - Manipulating Humanity

Convict – Manipulating Humanity (Hardbreed 2013 Anthem) | Holiday Review Series: Post 9

Convict manipulates humanity through the manipulation of vocal stutters, producing a ferocity that can only be found in the most horrifying monstrosities. There’s so much variation going on that stutters could hardly be seen as annoying. At times, they can even sound like violins, especially when Convict incorporates repetition and rapid scratches. The vocals in the breakdown sound like a robot-beast mutant. Yet, the descending notes manage to add hints of playful elegance.  The kicks burn the dance floor with its subtle hints of dry sounds, and at a tempo of 180BPM, legs will keep wanting to jump!

‘Manipulating Humanity’ was released on 2/09/2013 through Komplex Sounds sub-label Blitzkore.

Thunder (Evil Activities and E-Life Remix)

Thunder (Evil Activities and E-Life Remix)

Thunder (Evil Activities and E-Life Remix)

‘Thunder’ by Yellow Claw & The Opposites is a Rap-Rave track. The original mix deserves some attention in a mention before the remix review. Its melody has a gorgeous, daring decline down the scales. However, fans of the Harder styles might find a flaw. The Hard kick lacks some substance and sparkles, so it gets a bit dull towards the end due to the lack of interesting layers. Nonetheless, it has an inspirational fusion of genres, and provides a great base for the Hardcore artists to build on in the remix. Have a listen to the original below, and keep reading for a review and preview of the remix.

If E-Life was the short way of saying Evil Life, he and Evil Activities would have matching names. Evil Activities produces melodious, uplifting Hardcore pieces. Though he is fearless when it comes to including vocals, they are hardly ever out-of-place and annoying in his tracks. This style is evident in ‘Broken‘, ‘It’s OK‘, and ‘Point of No Return‘. E-Life’s releases are mostly made in collaboration with other Hardcore producers. For instance, E-Life and Tha Playah collaborated for the Harmony of Hardcore 2013 anthem.

In the remix, Evil Activities and E-Life add some much needed grey clouds to complete the sinister flow. The introduction has an organ-like sound underlying the muffled, synthesised version of the melody. It is similar to the operation or utilisation of a Hardcore kick, which is probably why it foreshadows the intensity that lies ahead. After this point, Evil Activities and E-Life’s variation of the chorus is much more mechanical, burned, and rusty. This industrial sound serves as a complementary backdrop to the original melody. To add another genre into the mix, there are parts of the track that slow down to give off a Dubstep vibe. Finally, the chords are played clearly, and level-up to a screech in the end.

It’s interesting to note that Hard Dance adds an excellent edge to Hip-Hop, Trap, and Dubstep. The fusion of Hard Dance and Hip-Hop subcultures was noted in the original music video, where the rapper rapped against the backdrop of a rave and monster trucks. Yet, much of the mainstream Hip-Hop artists have yet to embrace this controversial combination in production. It’s revolutionary. Yet, the amount of time it will take to overturn what is heard by most, and transcend into a more acknowledged existence, remains a mystery.

Reborn Music Festival 2013

Reborn Music Festival 2013 Review

Published on The Harder Mix 20/5/13:
http://thehardermix.tumblr.com/post/50872342410/review-reborn-music-festival-welcoming-the-future-o

Reborn Music Festival 2013

“So, you bought a VIP ticket, and you’re going to be here for three hours?”, “So every 3 seconds, you’re going to go crazy?” The man in the Defqon.1 jacket asked his friend, who was wearing a Masters of Hardcore shirt and phat pants. They were the first group in the line. Apparently, his friend had to go to his cousin’s boxing tournament, or something, but kept his VIP ticket and went to Reborn Music Festival anyway. The friend wasn’t willing to let go of the three hours he was going to have. Talk about dedication!

As we all waited, old men and women walked past, staring at the ravers with amusement. They weren’t aware of what was going on, when they saw a big crowd lining up at a Big Top surrounded by barriers. The blue Reborn angels mostly stood on the right. The guy in the Defqon.1 jacket noticed Steve Hill was standing on the left. It seemed as though the area was strictly closed off for event staff, but that didn’t last for long. Entry to the event was one of the smoothest of all festivals. There were few police and sniffer dogs, and the bag checks were quick. The guy handling the VIP tickets seemed rather professionally over-dressed in his collar shirt. The first thing that people would notice upon entering was a huge bar. In fact, there were huge bars in all three arenas of the festival. Very, very cold water and plastic cups were available too. In addition, whether you were a VIP or had a general admission ticket, the toilets on each level were accessible to all, squeaky clean, and had no long queues!

Reborn Music Festival 2013

On the right, there was a merchandise store with three T-shirts hanging on the wall. Wearing a free Reborn tee on the spot and getting that VIP lanyard was a marvellous feeling! There were two stairs leading up to the balcony. From the entrance, the one on the right had a security guard. Flash the VIP card, walk up the stairs, and one would see a few couches and stairs. The couches and chairs had a solid appearance, but do not be deceived! They were the most comfortable things a raver could possibly sit or rest on after a hectic dancing session! There was also another water station for the VIPs, and cans of fizzy drinks to buy. Although the other side of the balcony was also open to the public, being a VIP had a few perks. The balcony accessible to all had a smaller portion, which meant that it got crowded quickly. However, for the VIPs, there was plenty of space to get the best, front row, balcony view of the laser shows. As the night went on, the VIPs even moved the couches and chairs. They could sit back and watch the show with drinks in hand like posh stars.

Reborn Music Festival 2013

The barrier of the main stage claimed a whole side of the room to itself. Those lights were multi-coloured, and all laser lines were clear and solid from every angle. If only the stage design was comparable to that of the creative structures at Defqon.1, so that the empty space of the sides of the stage could be filled. Screens were arranged to form a pixelated, triangular opening, revealing the ring of lights that were in the centre. There was also a screen in front of the DJ decks, which did more than just show the name of the DJ. Those who had been to Prophecy would probably recognise the ring, but, the light show delivered was definitely much better than what Prophecy had. It incorporated the Reborn icon throughout in different forms.  It’s safe to say that the quality of the light show made up for the simplicity of the stage. Perhaps it made it easier for them to wrap it up when the event was over too. The D7 stage at the top level became a Hardcore stage momentarily. The lighting for that stage was so bright, that it was hard to see who was performing, but that was only because the space was too small for awesome equipment. If only Big Top had two massive arenas! It would have been great to see more Hardcore acts at Reborn. Then, after all that dancing, people could go get some chicken schnitzels and sausages outside, with the meat prepared fresh on the spot. It also doubled as a smoking area.

Although the space for the main stage was huge, the Reborn organizers did not to let too many people in with ticket allocation. It was a wise move. When the internationals performed, everyone had plenty of space to jump in. People who wanted to have a closer look could cut to the front whenever they pleased. No pushing, no foot-stomping, just pure freedom. There was no need to rush to the front and stay there just to reserve a spot either.

Reborn Music Festival 2013

Another fine thing that the Reborn organizers did was put equal focus on both local and international acts. The go-go dancers were performing for most of the night, and increased to four when the internationals started to perform. There was no case of saving the best till last, or piling all the internationals on one stage. Thus, people could go from stage to stage, and only end up missing out on one act they intended to see, even without a copy of the line-up. Thanks to the marvellous sound systems on all stages, all the artists had the chance to show their style. People got to hear the music live, and as it was meant to be.

The most anticipated act of the night was Donkey Rollers, whose last performance in Sydney was back in 2009 for Defqon 1. Though the live performance only lasted for 35 minutes, the crowd was fully entertained all the way. Zany crossed between DJ’ing to singing alongside the hot and funny MC DV8, while Jowan spent most of his time behind the decks. About halfway through, or towards the end of the act, they couldn’t help but notice a man who kept revealing his butt to the public. They did tell the man to stop doing that, and told him it was disgusting. However, watching that happen from the top at the corner of their eye just made it too amusing to ignore. They invited him on stage and got him to show his butt from two sides of the stage twice. DV8 was so mesmerised by his beautiful butt that he had to rap: “Waiting for the witch, to cast her spell. There’s a smile on my ass”. That sent both Zany and MC DV8 into a frenzy of laughter. The man, also known as ‘ass man’ got a huge round of cheer and applause for his marvellous butt show. Cheeky Zany kept on beat-boxing at the end of their set, and MC DV8 just had to give ‘ass man’ one last shout-out in the ‘We Will Rock You’ style: “Where, is, where, is, the ass man?!” After a flurry of random beat-boxing, Zany made the ‘We Will Rock You’ beats backstage, and MC DV8 got lead by the beats. DV8 couldn’t help but sing one line: “You got mud on your face, big disgrace”. Finally, after three rounds of random Zany acts, they walked out again to assure the crowd that they really did have to leave, and that they were going to be at the Masif Saturdays after party.

Reborn Music Festival did a splendid job with astounding production. Note that there were no major sound equipment malfunctions on interruptions in this event, which added to the festival’s exceptional quality. It really helps to give a better image of Australian event organizers. The considerate line-up arrangements were not only crucial to the festival experience, but essential to encouraging and showcasing local acts. It had room for improvement, including more shuttle buses. Nevertheless, it was definitely one of the best local events that the Hard Dance lovers of Sydney had ever seen. Q-Dance Australia needs to watch their back, because D7 Events is becoming a mighty contender!