We can all agree that Crystal Castles and Sleigh Bells rock. However, how many (let’s just be honest) teeny-bopping scenesters actually know the roots of noisy, electronic political ant[i]hems? Well, hopefully that will change shortly. The founders of digital hardcore, Atari Teenage Riot, are back with their first album in 11 years (and their best in 13). Out Tuesday on Dim Mak Records, Is This Hyperreal? (inspired largely by the ideas of semiotician Umberto Eco), proves that ATR are still more danceable, more confrontational, and more revolutionary than any of their like-minded successors.
Although Hanin Elias has parted ways with the group (leaving Alec Empire as sole founding member), Nic Endo returns and CX Kidtronik joins the mix to round out the trio. Without Elias, the band more or less loses its grrrl aesthetic. But in its place, the group’s sound has gotten heavier, more militant, and, at times, prettier (check out Nic on “Shadow Identity” and “Collapse of History”). Other than that, they generally maintain their blend of electronica at its scariest and punk at its most processed.
In their old age the group has grown slightly more accessible (if only lyrically), making their message all the more clear. And what is their message this time around, more than a decade since their last synthetic sermon? Well, it pretty much centers around the fact that the last time we saw the band the internet was looking like it was going to be history’s great democratizer and liberator of the voiceless masses… and since then we’ve seen that it’s simply another method of enabling a nation’s highest bidders to more easily fuck everyone else in the ass… often literally (“Blood in My Eyes” is an I-Spit-on-Your-Grave-style tale about a former sex slave.)
*To any of my former English students who spent the month of April learning about the spectacle, this is the kind of shit that would make Guy Debord jizz his pants.