Atari Teenage Riot - Is This Hyperreal?

Surfing the zeitgeist or post-artistic zennith curtain call? German 1990s electronica refuseniks Atari Teenage Riot return after a lengthy (12 years) sojourn to ask one of the most burning questions of our times, “Is this hyperreal?” Soundwise, nothing much has changed. Stubbornly idiosyncratic or teetering on the edge of self parody. What can this band bring to 2011?

Formed in the early 1990s, ATR formed part of a disparate wave of electonica pioneers alongside bands like Nine Inch Nails. Three studio albums in, the band appeared to have run its course with the death of MC Carl Crack in 2001. A series of reunion live shows in 2010 led to studio collaborations resulting in this new release. The track “Rearrange Your Synapses” effectively sums up this album. Shouted vocals: tick. Talking during mandatory quiet bit: tick. Repeated mentions of band name in vocal: tick. Vaguely teutonic overtones: tick. High speed electronic music: tick. Subtlety banished to the four winds: tick.

As instigators of the digital hardcore genre perhaps we should not be surprised by the content on offer. But should that offer them a free pass to limit themselves within these musical constraints? It’s as if they’ve chosen to soundtrack William Gibson’s first novel Neuromancer rather than his entire career. There’s no doubting the vibrancy of what they’re served up in defiance of the passing of time or reference to any current music trends. However, with time apparently comes wisdom and on that basis everyone involved with this album should probably know better.

Overall

5

out of 10

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