Version 1.0 - compiled from Swedish version by Stoned Mouser - 28.01.2000
Version 1.666 - additions and editing done by Vary - 17.03.2000
This FAQ does not claim to set up the overall rules or frames around gabber.
It's just ment to help clear up things for people not familiar but interested in subject.
Gabber is Music
Gabber is form of techno music
It's techno and it's fast techno
Often aggressive and sometimes offensive techno
It's energetic and it's provocative
It's techno as it was meant to be
And with a "fuck-everything"-attitude
There are many misunderstandings about gabber.
With this FAQ we hope to widen that picture -
to show that gabber is more than 'Thunderdome's
and that hardcore contains an energy and unique attitude,
which is nowhere else to be found in the world of techno.
Gabber is a branch of techno music - considered to be the hardest single style of techno there is.
As stated above, gabber is usually fast and noisy, but equally important for gabber
is its atmosphere of darkness and aggression. Real gabber sounds the way frustration feels!
It's completely without compromises and the crap commercial elements of much of today's trance and house.
It's music completely lacking respect and manners, which's just kept going by a solid,
compact bassdrum banging with an energy, that's found nowhere else in techno.
Gabber is as well a word for people who listen gabber music. Sometimes also called as 'gabba',
the term has come from dutch language in Holland/Netherlands. It should stand for
a 'friend/lad/mate/doode/homeboy' or something like that. Apparently this is what media,
people and ravers started to call those who were listening hardcore techno.
When the term gabba is mentioned, however, most people associate to the cheesy
and deeply commercialized compilation-albums like 'Thunderdome' and 'Happy Hardcore'.
While these records quite correctly are labeled as hardcore-albums, this is far from the whole story.
Gabber is dark, underground, steady beating of acts such as Nasenbluten or Manu Le Malin.
It is Crapshot Records (very underground and innovative Britsh label),
Industrial Strength (classic gabber-label from N.Y.), Bloody Fist (groundbreaking Australian label)
and Storm (Scottish underground label).
Plus much more.
Gabber and hardcore is often defined by speed and by counting BPM (Beats Per Minute).
It's a common view, that once a song exceeds 180 BPM, it's hardcore. And once it has reached 220, its gabber.
However, gabber and hardcore is more than anything else, a matter of atmosphere and energy.
The atmosphere is always dark and threatening, the energy aggressive and driving.
Don't be concerned with counting the BPM!
Gabber is not speedblind, stupid music, only aiming to be fast and noisy.
Because what distinguishes a good hardcore track from a bad one, is the ability to make
something fast and noisy, which is also, at the same time, innovative, alternative and interesting to hear.
This is where most 'Thunderdome'-acts run short. And this is probably where gabber got its bad reputation.
Not from the true music of the scene, but from the cheezed out and dollarized attempts
of making gabber and wanting to be mainstream in order to sell records.
This is the same thing as if trance would be defined and judged after the standards of Antiloop and Sash...
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What about different styles in hardcore and gabber - are there any variations ?
A rough and arguable distinction could be the following:
Techno with a compact and massive bassdrum, running at about 170 - 200 bpm.
Its usually dark and contains an evil atmosphere, often set by the use of samples, such as curses and screams.
It can also be slightly melodic and positive, but then its bordering to happy hardcore (see below). Few examples :
'Napalm Rave' compilations 1 and 2
early 'Thunderdome' compilations 1 to ~10 (up to 1995/96) (ID&T / Arcade)
first 'Terrordrome' compilations 1 to 4 (these first 4 volumes were from Mokum)
'Fucking Hardcore' compilations (Mokum / The All Blacks B.V.)
'Cyberdrome - Alien City part 1' compilation (1995 / Mokum / The All Blacks B.V.)
'Raver's Night' compilations 1 to 3 (Ruffneck / XSV)
'Demon Spirit - Bitch From Hell' compilation (1994 / ARS Productions / Columbia)
'Technohead' compilations 1 - 3 (React Music)
old 'House Party' hardcore compilations (9 to 13 ?) (ID&T ?)
80 AUM, Dano,
Technohead (GTO / Salami Brothrs),
SpeedFreak (Biochip C), Delta Nine(or Delta 9), Lenny Dee...
Rob Gee & Repete / Charly Lownoise & Mental Theo - 'Riot In N.Y.(Back The Fuck Up)'
Uses the same speeds as hardcore, but the atmosphere is a jollier, often funny and slightly silly.
Samples can be pitched-up pop-hits like 'Macarena', 'Don't Speak', 'Turn Around' or 'Listen to Your Heart'.
Also more often than not, the songs are filled with stupid MC-rap and "clap, clap, clap your hands"-chantings.
Needless to say, this is more for the teenagers living-rooms than for the real dancefloors.
But this is the mainstream hardcore and sadly these days just about all big european raves with some 'hardcore'
listed in them are about this. Few examples :
the 'old days' happy hardcore: Marusha, Mark Oh, Scooter (in beginning), Westbam, L.A.Style,
3 Steps Ahead (from 1997), The Prophet, The Stunned Guys, Paul Elstak, DJ Rob,
Charlie Lownoise & Mental Theo (exept for few early tracks),
actually most of 'Thunderdome' acts since 1995/96
MC Rage - 'Fuck Macarena'
Party Animals - 'Hava Nagila'
Technohead - 'I Wanna Be A Hippy'
Gabber in its true form is evil, aggressive, brutal and provocative techno,
ranging in speed from 180 bpm to more than the double.
The typical gabber-track is built up from a distorted 909 bassdrum,
and kept going by the use of similarily distorted guitarsamples from speed- and black metal,
blurry noises and sometimes acidic sounds. It also may contain vocalsamples from gangster-,
war- and horror movies, often with a provocative and obscene theme. Few examples :
'Terrordrome' compilations 5 to 10 (EDEL[Control] / Nordcore)
'Braindead' compilations 2 to 6 (ShockWave)
'Technohead 4 - Sound Wars' compilation (1997 / React Music)
'Industrial F**king Strength' compilations 1 and 2 (Industrial Strength Records / Earache), Rob Gee, SpeedFreak(Biochip C),
Laurent Hõ(Ingler), Liza'n'Eliaz,
Nordcore, BSE DJ Team, Bakalla, B.C.Kid, XolDog 400, DJ Freak,
E605 (Christian Antons), E-De Cologne, Anal Cunt, many brilliant tracks from 'Napalm' label,
Lenny Dee - 'Fucking Hostile'
DJ Skinhead - 'Extreme Terror' [listen in RealAudio]
De Klootzakken - 'Dominee Dimitri'(1 and 2)
Nasenbluten (often referred as 'Bloody Fist' which is their label name)
tracks like 'Intellectual Killer', 'Cocksucker', 'Cunt Face', 'No More Fucking Soul'
D.O.A. - 'Brooklyn Mob', 'Ya Mutha', 'Wanna Be A Gangsta'
HCM DJ - 'Speed Metal Gabber' - http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Studio/7468/MGG-08.zip
HCM DJ - 'Beastie Guys' - http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Studio/7468/MGG-09.zip
DJ Noizer - 'Can You Hear Me ?' - http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Disco/2088/hear_me2.zip
Downloadable ZIP files under links are packed 'tracker' modules or MP3 files,
you can listen them after unextracting for example with WinAMP.
And these are just the main hardcore/gabber styles...There's more...
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What is it with all this aggression in gabber - why ???
This is a question often asked - why is gabber so aggressive?
What is it with all this drug thing. Are gabbers drugheads and extacy junkies?
What about the PLUR(Peace-Love-Unity-Respect) of techno and all of that?
Love, respect, hugging, flowers, glowstics, happy puppies, candy ravers and the hippie-culture...
What has gabber got to say about this?
Gabber contains aggression and frustration. So does life.
Its fine with all the love and happyness in the world and its great with all the parties celebrating this.
But you can't go around denying the feelings of built-up frustration
that are inevitable for the men and women of today's society.
And you can't deny the urge and desire to just lift the lid off sometimes and just let it blow.
This is what hardcore and gabber is about.
Without any need/help of chemicals. Only the Music being the drug. Or beer.
Celebrating and enjoying also the fuck-ups of your life and getting rid of them
by banging your head at a speaker, throwing at you a bass which's so solid and distorted and fast,
that it just blows your worries out through your bleeding, tormented ears.
And then you go home.
You buy a flower for your mom or whatever!
You don't bring the aggression with you into everyday life and you don't let it hurt someone else.
You leave it laying on the dancefloor until next time.
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Are gabbers nazis ?
The aggressive attitude and the shaved heads of many gabbers, appearance with nazi skinheads,
have given birth to the assumption that gabber is a fascist/nazi/skinhead movement. This is wrong.
Gabber is not a nazi-movement, although many gabbers have propitious/liberal attitude and views on
racism, nationalism, nazism, anarchy and atheism. Also there are many good gabber tracks
where the vocalsamples are taken from Hitler's or other figures speeches.
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What about the skulls, curses and blood - isn't this just a little bit childish ?
Yes, it is childish.
But, it's also ironic and done with a lot of self-distance.
Take movies such as 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Starship Troopers'.
Everybody realizes that these movies are made with an ironic blink of the eye
- we often laugh at the gore, the blood and the hardboiled characters.
Its the same thing as with hardcore.
We laugh at the "a day without blood is like a day without sunshine"-sample from 'Full Metal Jacket'.
We smirk on the dancefloor when the massive guitar-riot is interrupted by an upset girl
shouting "i'm out of here, i leave you with nothing anymore - you piece of shit!".
Or when in the beginning of a song, there's a distant moaning of someone being in pain and anguish.
This is made to be fun and to provide an amusing surrounding to the
equally aggressive and frustrated music. If you have a problem with this,
look upon it as you look upon the blood and gore in 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Reservoir Dogs'
(movies often sampled in gabber, by the way): its gross, its shocking and revolting...
But it fits the theme of the story and it's still a damn good story!
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Is there a dresscode or typical image among the gabbers ?
Most gabbers don't give a fuck about fashions or image. Many people just don't care!
However, there are of course some trends and "should-be's".
The military and camoflage-pattern is one thing. Shaved heads another.
Black is the color of the day and shirts with a hood and some evil,
provoking picture or text should make you feel at home anywhere.
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OK, I want records - where can I find them and what should I buy ?
Finding 'Thunderdome' is easy. It is often stocked in most of the major record stores.
Series like 'Rave Massacre', 'Napalm Rave', 'Fucking Hardcore', are also easy to find
- or if you can't find them, just tell the store to order them for you.
This is of course a good start, but you'd be seriously lacking what's considered to be
real gabber and the risk is that you won't have found anything you like and hence get discouraged.
There is, however, two CD's around which are considerably better than the rest.
These are the Industrial Strength's 'Industrial F**king Strength' compilation-albums
and 'Terrordrome' series from 5 to 10. There you can find artists such as
D.O.A. and Nasenbluten, BSE DJ Team, Bakalla and it's definately worth checking out.
It should also be available - or possible to order - in major music stores.
Worth checking out for what's not really gabber, but similarily fucked-up,
distorted noise with a lot of attitude and aggression is the Digital Hardcore Recordings discography.
They've thrown in everything from jungle and techno to gabber and semi-metal,
to provide you with a thorough soundtrack for your odd hours of frustration and confusion.
Atari Teenage Riot is the best example of digital hardcore.
Alec Empire is the groups front-figure.
To find the real gabber and speedcore, you need to buy records (vinyl)
and for this you need to order them from your local 12"-retailor.
If you just know the name of the record and the label, or better - the catalog number of record,
this should be no problem.
What about this music in EStonia - what does the scene look like ?
The movement in EStonia is a small and scarce one. There are quite a few people,
listening to compilation CD's such as 'Thunderdome'-s and 'Terrordrome'-s,
and I'd say most of today's "coolest" beats/drum&bass/house/detroit/whatever-freaks
have a copy of 'Rave the City' or 'Thunderdome',
hidden away in a drawer or shelf somewhere in a dark end of their homes...
But with the bad reputation of gabber and with the lack of real music from the scene,
the movement has stayed small and often been misunderstood and miscredited.
You can get some kind of picture of EStonian scene reading the following text:
Naked truth about the days past...
[ Original text was written by Sven "Flamer" Paulus in 12.November 1999 ]
[ This translation to english produced by Vary]
About four years before the change of the century (well, five actually, because in decimal system decades, centurys & milleniums all end with a number 'zero', but blah nevermind...) a group of people, who all enjoyed the various forms of alternative dancemusic, gathered in Tallinn, EStonia. Big local events like 'Raveland' & 'Warehouse Groove' didn't offer anymore the experiences associating with the dark dens of underground. There was need for something different - an event without the candyravers, wannabes & fakes. And with a special selection of music.
And so, for some of the crew, one of the first descents into the true underground happened in an medieval dungeon in Old City of Tallinn. Known by the name 'Myyrivahe 33 1/3' , the place filled up in one warm evening in May with around forty freaks. The tired faces stared the sun again emerging from the basement next day at noon. Fifteen hours in a row lasting danceorgy, with the sounds of techno, jungle, house & hardcore, had squeezed the last juices of energy out of the youth. Following summer of year'96 brought people again and again into Myyrivahe. Party named 'Old Dusty Grooves' gave birth to worthy cyblings, named 'BrainMash'
After a few events the tentacles of gabberdemon had grown so much, that it needed a new place to exist. Claws stretched out to the empty industrial wastelands of an old printingfactory in the centre of Tallinn, place where - in the past - scenes for the famous soviet scifimovie "Stalker" were filmed. The 'Hobujaama' complex with its gloomy surroundings, dark passageways & broken windows became the new nest. Snow melted from the roofs of Hobujaama, while the darkest-roughest beats sounded in the former printing-plant of 'Mehis'. This was Underground raised to the cube. Gabbarhythms and environment formed a unique ecstasy.
But the joy didn't last long...
Events moved over to 'Neitsitorn'(Virgin Tower) in the Old City, where noise, penetrating through two floors, took virginity from all medieval ghosts occupying local passages.
The net spread out consistently and next place for a party was inetcafe 'Enter'.
'13' - that sinister-named pub at Lai Street became the arena for following actions. In the dark steamy archways with low ceilings the sweaty bodys jumped'n'pumped in an selfless trance, with their only purpose to abandon the material shell before morning & achieve unity in the gabberlevel.
To avoid the endless moving around, a descision formed to build a steady nest for the offspring. Certain basement in Luise street seemed to be a suitable place, but... The drums of hardcore brought an uninvited guests there. Aliens appeared to be the inhabitants of upper floors, who didn't want to be wise in the ways of modern dancemusic. To express their wishes more clearly, they invited there Men In Blue Uniforms. Representatives Of Law explained with physical methods the ultimate evilness of gabber. Followed a crusade of annoyed partypeople to policedepartement, demanding the iron doors of jail to be opened for unjustfully locked-up DJ Stoned Mouser. That event forced two violent policemen to lose their job and to change their uniform for a civilian outfit. But that jailhouse left it's doors viciously open for gabbers also in the coming days.
Autumn came with a longwaited reunion & 'Brainchatter I'. This time in ex-'Kastan' bar, where the crew in an elated mood celebrated birthdays of Reivik, Stoned Mouser & Dave. At some high spirited moment that night, the front of bar filled with blue-stiped cars and men. Someone from the police came up with an idea, that there was a nazy meeting going on. Folk without ID-s got stuffed into police minibus, 16 people all-together! Ride started. And lasted. Exited moods dominated in the shaking buscell, someone suggested, that maybe they are taken to execution. Sven(author of this story) decided to enjoy this brief life as much as possible and let loose his vocal skills. Soon the whole buscell sang together for a freedom. And the ride still lasted. Accused unjustfully in nazism, gabbers decided to take an oath to their loyality for homeland and by the time arriving at the Central policestation the anthem of EStonia sounded third time. After writing explanations about their actions and posing for pictures, folk moved back to the party. For 40 crowns all that happened was quite an entertainment. A thought appeared, that attraction named as 'Cops' must be included in flyers of future events.
Final peace from the disturbing officials came not before than in Ren's garage. That place in the center of city was, by miracle, left unnoticed by strangers. Aura from about ten or so splendid danceorgy's hovers around this place, which unfortunately has been marked for demolition these days.
To state, that there is still something new under the sun, this event in 19.November 1999 takes place at Vilmsi str.54, which will sum up the experiences from past actions.
'Brainchatter II' will be the monument to past times & milestone for the future.
Gabbers in rhythmslavery will gather again to prove, that the extremes of electronic dancemusic have a firm place in EStonian scene!