This story is a bit out of line for a few reasons. First, in no way it fits within the larger scene of the previous genres that I wrote about. Second, even though I have listed to some projects within it, I did not in the early days. Third, I write this as an outsider. I have never been to houseparties or whatever.
I remember a long, long time ago, in my metal period, I had a discussion with a few guys who listened to “gabber”. I was just growing to be a dark-minded blackmetalhead I abhorred the happy sounds of house music (well, most of it). The reply was that they listened to extreme music and gabber is also extreme music. I did not agree, in fact, I still do not.
Somewhere around 1990 some harder forms of house-music appeared, but the gabber hype started in the Netherlands in 1992 when Rotterdam Records was founded. “Gabber” simply means “buddy”. Listeners of the style liked to call eachother that way and later the word became a name for the musical style. Gabber is characterised by loud, regular beats and a little bit of ‘melody’ and sometimes vocals. Pretty soon, gabber became a style. The audience had shaven skulls, bomber jacks and many army boots; indeed, a bit of a skinhead look. The girls often have similar clothing and the lower part of their hair shaven short. This was not to be the only style, since slick haircuts were soon introduced. Gabber literally exploded and almost an entire generation of youth at some points were gabber. It even became so big that a new style fit for the hit-charts appeared: “happy hardcore”. Whereas normal gabber was already too cheerfull for me, happy hardcore was awfull. The parody became even bigger than the original after only three years of existence of the style. Inspite (or because?) of this, gigantic houseparties were organised weekly and in due time, enormous festivals. A crack in the bulb appeared when a section of the scene was openly racistic and the rightwing corner of the scene appeared in the news. “Bouncing” (jumping around with the right hand up in the air) was forbidden and the rightwingers changed to dresscodes such as orange or certain ‘Scottish’ designs in the inside of the bomber jacks, white laces and later even the numbercodes of the rightwing movement. Both this clash and the overcommercialising of the genre had the bubble explode just about half a decade after it was born.
Like I said, I was not interested in this music at that time. Much later when ‘better versions’ of it appeared my interest was caught.
Reading back, it appeared that already during the early years, new styles appeared that did not have the commercial succes of its parent. As the number of “beats per minute” (BPM) rose and so did the extremity of the sound, styles such as “speedcore” and “terror” arose. There was “darkcore” and “doomcore”. I suppose this happed underground, like the styles were supposed to be. In my view, gabber exploded and died, but I guess that a small underground fraction remained. My ear fell on extreme techno with new things such as “digital hardcore”, an originally German style became better known. “Digital Hardcore Recordings” is the label of Alex Empire, the man behind the most famous (and most boring) DHR project Atari Teenage Riot and the style took the name of the label. More interesting DHR was Ec8or with a nice punk-attitude and Sonic Subjunkies who went more into an extreme form of drum’n’bass (as did Alex Empire under his own name). I also found “speedcore” but this was most of the time still too ‘gabberish’ for me. A few years later I ran into “tekno”, a much better, much more industrial kind of extreme tekno and a scene that seems to be partly inhabitent by (ex-)gabbers, partly by new artists. The Dutch label The Third Movement has made available some interesting material in this style, but at present (early 2011) it seems that tekno is flowing back into the “hardcore” scene in general, the latter reemerged a few years ago and the parties are again as big as in the early days (and the audience is the same?).