Once upon a time, it was fashionable among the music press to denigrate heavy rock, prog rock and heavy metal (think Led Zep, Deep Purple, Yes, Rush, Motorhead) as boringly repetitive. The mantra went that rock relied too much on a single riff played over and over again ad nauseam, with endless guitar and, save us, O Lord, drum solos for light relief. Where was the innovation, the rebelliousness, the spunk? Hence, said the poet, punk. Almost overnight, the Gods of Rock were kicked upstairs to Valhalla, from where they grimaced at the usurpers who had saved music from the tyranny of repetition by thrashing out three-chord riffs at four beats to the bar. No, I don't quite understand it either.
Which brings me to electro. Or house. Or fidget house. Or fuss-budget techno doodah or whatever new genre has spawned on the sticky floors of European nightclubs. Today's slab of sound hails from Italy's Sostanze netlabel and features - how shocking - repetitive riffs in a four-to-the-floor situation. Why don't the critics stamp on such music as they did for whiskery rock? Three reasons:
- The sonic variation inherent in intensely filtered synth riffs sustains listeners' aural interest. (Impressed? Yes, my brain is a sponge of pleasure.)
- For all its repetition, electro contains more rhythmic variety than the average 70s rock song, due to breakdowns and glitches, although prog rock has a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. Rush is/are exempt from this discussion anyway 'cos they are fab.
- Rockers, bless 'em, can't dance. Q.E.D.
It's a little raw in places, but it's energy on a stick, isn't it? And it's free.
The start of Intro is deceptive - keep a finger on the volume control or else the absolutely monstrous rising tone will pop something dear to you, be it speakers, eardrums or other body parts. Bebop The Dog gives you 60 seconds to recover before unleashing a riff that's stickier than toffee candy floss. The same could be said for the second track (which might actually be the EP's highpoint) Come Back and, er, all the other songs. (Who mentioned repetition?) I'm curious as to how the dancefloor will receive these tracks - they lack the pristine production of a top studio and producer - but I'm sure they'd provoke one or two hipsters to bust a move and flutter their eyebrows at the DJ.
Right, onwards. The title track (Raver Boom, for those who aren't taking the smart drugs) bounces cheerfully under a ragga vocal and some Daft Punk low-pass filtering. Bad Boy has fun swapping its introductory pitch-wobbling synth riff, dropping it for a fairly mellow electro bass riff (if there is such a thing) and thus embarking on a stop-start odyssey that gives poor dancers some cue points with which to regain their dignity. I laughed at the dog bark that bursts into one break. The dub-like siren is the icing on the wobbly cake.
The EP ends with Loop a Looza, the highlight of which is the dive-bombing bass line. It's not the most memorable of tracks, mainly because the dive-bombing bass line will interfere with your short-term memory.
In short, Raver Boom will supply electro, fidget and (my eyes!) nu rave fans with the recommended daily intake of breakdowns, white noise sweeps, bouncing kick drums and gritty bass lines. I am therefore grateful to Bebop The Dog and Sostanza netlabel for the free CC fun. If you enjoyed the album, please show your gratitude by sending them a "thank you" email or a donation or a bill for your new hearing aids.
Bebop The Dog - Raver Boom (individual files & zipped album at archive.org)
Bebop The Dog - Raver Boom (ditto, direct from Sostanze netlabel).