The Return of the 909
By Dan Century
The Roland 808 and 909 drum machines revolutionized
electronic and rap music in the eighties. What they are known for and what made
them so popular is their unique bass drum sound. The 808 is known for its
ultra-deep speaker rattling base. The 909 has a tighter, punchier bass sound.
These machines have since been replaced by more advanced devices, but their
samples have lived on thanks to devoted fans.
Recently, thanks to a new mutation of techno called gabber,
the 909s and 808s are becoming popular again. Gabber mixes ultra fast drum
beats, an occasional thrash guitar, techno keyboards and vocal samples. For the
most part gabber songwriters shy away from live vocals. Most songs incorporate
rap samples or other obnoxious vocals. One classic gabber track, DOA's Yo
Mutha, incorporates a hilarious answering machine message that has to be heard
to believed. The key to gabber: the more obnoxious the song, the better it is.
Ultra-fast (usually well over 200 beats per minute) distorted 909s and 808s are
The closest gabber has gotten to the mainstream is Atari
Teenage Riot. ATR rely on Slayer guitar samples, looped hip-hop drum beats and
angry European vocalists. They're not true gabber, but if you listen to the
bass drum track on their hit "Into the Death" - that's gabber.
Gabber is well represented on the World Wide Web. There is
even a gabber Web ring. Many underground artists are making their compositions
available as MP3s, which you can download and use to scare the neighbors.
Hundreds (maybe thousands) of kids are making there own gabber with samplers, a
cracked version of Sound Forge downloaded off a Warez site or, if they're
lucky, a used Roland 808 or 909. If gabber sounds interesting to you, or you're
sick of pansy ass milk toast alternative music, these songs are worth checking
DJ Skinhead's "Extreme Terror" is a great example of gabber
with live vocals. Lots of angry, distorted screaming over ultra fast loops.
Bloody Fist's "Cocksucker" is true obnoxious gabber. Full
Metal Jacket samples make for gabber that will fuck shit up at any club.
Delta 9's "Hard Core Chicago" is a furious mix of live
vocals, rap samples, thrash guitars and white noise. Great music to accompany
the destruction of anything. The "Buck Wild" remix of their song "Hate Tank" is
definitely worth checking out too.
The Rising!Man!Incinerator Vs. Scoundrels remixes are
classic examples of what happens when you let a gabber DJ / remixer get hold of
the master tapes to a Vermont thrash band. Pure fuckin' shit up.
Just about anything by Johnny Violent is worth listening to,
but "Burnout" is probably the only song you'll ever hear that tops out at 20
Million beats per minute.
The Preachers "2 Die or Kill": "I wanna kill...everyone!
Satan is good! Satan is our pal!" This song is more hardcore techno than
gabber, but the samples really make my day.
The Chosen Few's "Name of Our DJ" combines a famous Public
Enemy sample with other rap samples and hardcore techno keys and white
Darrien Kelly's "Main Mutherfuckers" is another rap /
hardcore techno mix. "Prankster studio gangster busters, softer than a bitch,
but portray the role of gangster." An ode to Will Smith.
MD and A's "Return of the Cracken": super-distorted Roland
beats with samples from Clash of the Titans. Hilarious.
Just about everything by Bazooka is good too.
There are a lot of comps out now. The best place to start is
the Industrial Strength comp from Earache Records. You should also check out
the Hardcore Web Ring (http://wwwserv.caiw.nl/~arthur/gabber/) for some great
gabber sites. Viva ultra-violence!