Not just faster bpm. Not just harder. At the edge of hardcore techno, producers explore the catharsis that comes from screams – screams you can dance to.
And perhaps in a terrifying world, up against a world of music that is sometimes very serious in its own estimation of itself, we need something that is just scary, brutal, and danceable, and ridiculous.
The constellation of terrorcore – itself a branch of speedcore, in turn an offshoot of hardcore or hardcore techno – is normally situated somewhere at the end of the last century, around places like Rotterdam and Frankfurt and Brussels and their orbits. (If you get confused about the different ‘cores, don’t worry – you’re not alone.)
But that makes anything labeled terreur or speedcore sound like another 90s throwback. I’m glad to have gotten to know Femanyst – aka Akua Brotzman – partly because she isn’t so easy to track down. Yes, the Femanyst moniker has become known in her Berlin stint, but she has an extensive resume as DJ, producer, artist, and voice over on the US’ Bay Area. She’s not just an Instagram trend, in other words. You can easily get lost in her artwork and deep knowledge. I’ve heard her spin house to sweaty, happy kinksters; I’ve heard her play athletic techno.
So now she’s bringing dimension and diversity to a fairly unlikely place in terrorcore, or something like it. Dark Carousel is a largely undiscovered, irreverent young label full of gems that Femanyst is running. And now in its second volume compilation for that label, Into Darkness explores whether terrorcore can be a broad category and not just a footnoted fringe genre.
(I can hardly say how I landed there, other than Akua described what she wanted, but then conversations turned into the insane remix she made that I love more than I can say, some discussions of kick sounds, and all these great tracks I’ve had on repeat whenever I want something to pound against my speakers. Serious shout-out to everyone here; getting to know people like you is the best reason to make music at all.)
Basically – it’s for people who want more absurdly hard and frightening things without any one particular speed or spin, and without too much self-seriousness. The text from the release:
Terreur doesn’t die. It’s undead. And it’s come to haunt you so you can’t sleep.
Dark Carousel reboots all you loved in terrorcore, drawing fresh blood with an international roster of underground artists. The second installment of the Into Darkness series goes further into the shadows, crossbreeding the irreverent brain-twisting goodness of classic hardcore with the brutality of the latest industrial techno. It’s a vampire vs. werewolf pile-on of old and new. But this isn’t just BPM wars, distortion dick-swinging, and jump scares. The truly demented producers here have packed this compilation with a labyrinth of cinematic twists and turns.
There are dynamics and surprises everywhere – colliding textures, acid and breaks, dancefloor machinery, and equal parts fright and silliness. And if you feel overwhelmed by overly serious and self-absorbed gloom in music, here is evidence artists can still be silly and tap-dance at the edge of the abyss. Strap in for a gleeful splatter film of sound.
There’s also a video, to put you in that trippy terror party mood:
In addition to label boss Femanyst (and yours truly), there are tons of great people on there, covering a wide spectrum of pain – Plexøs, Denizens, Rorganic, Overclocked, Hyden, Beat42, ARDL, Silenzo, Føgg, X66, Ayrshire Hardcore Disciple, Kenny Campbell, GIA, RhinOzerOz, Minimal Violence, T Y, Sayang, Khavera, and Vishscale.
Check out folks like GIA, making kinky pain for your ears at the infamous Gegen podcast:
Or Scottish ear-meanie Kenny Campbell:
I mean, sorry to the music critics out there, but I personally have always liked it when genres melted away and we focused on feeling. (Terrorcore is a feeling. It’s a fear thing. A scream thing.) It seems about time that brutal industrial things and techno and experimentalism just became some spectrum.
That’s not to say that some of these more fringe elements of industrial dance music don’t deserve some recognition, too – and that’s another reason it’s nice this compilation gives them a nod.
To get a sense of how that can work, here’s a “speedcore live” party from Poland. (Where? Somewhere in Poland. When? 2013? Maybe? I usually have the feeling I’ve arrived in the right place when this sort of thing happens.)
Marek Stuart who uploaded that video, also has this video. Let me put my serious music critic hat on – I believe this qualifies as hardcore industrial techno. Maybe my new favorite hardcore track, actually.
True story: I miss Poland.
Poland has a thing for terrorcore, because there was whatever this was and someone registered terrorcore.pl as a domain (though it musically goes in a different direction, the same general – party vibe):
And there are efforts to keep this alive, as in 2018 (in Madrid?):
If you need some dance moves to practice, speaking of Instagram (hey, I needed an excuse to run all these videos):
But back to Dark Carousel, I really appreciate that Akua is finding a direction that merges insanity and horror with the current techno scene, so the music isn’t overly confined. And Femanyst deserves more attention.
Also check out volume 1 of Into Darkness:
And wonderful things like this:
And something different (also from this year):
And give yourself a full mix: