El universo de Alec Empire
The golden Foretaste of Heaven - CD Eat your Herat out records
Por J. E. Gómez / IndyRock
Ha vuelto a conseguirlo. Uno de los creadores más profundos
del techno rock internacional, Alec Empire, ha lanzado un trabajo en el
que se marca a sí mismo como un genio del ruidismo, la remezcla
y los sonidos emanados de universos paralelos. Alec Empire, que fuese líder
de los Atari Teenage Riot, ha dejado atrás lo que se consideraba
su álbum cumbre, "Futurism" para lanzar The golden Foretaste of
Heaven, que muestra la verdadera esencia del underground que se mueve en
los antros más sofisticados de Berlín. Sus trabajos como
productor de personajes como Bjork o John Spencer, han dejado huella en
este músico que hace años que consideraba que el punk había
muerto y que hay que encontrar nuevas formas de expresión. Alec
profundiza en caminos cargados de oscuridad sonora, atmósferas que
crean un universo tremendamente personal, duro, convulsivo, cargado de
percusiones electrónicas, sintetizadores afilados que te llevan
a instantes de histerias colectivas. Un magnífico disco que deja
atrás los aires metaleros de "Futurism". Alec Empire estuvo en España,
en Barcelona, en 2007 en un concierto que pasará a la historia de
los directos de este país
"Futurist", así se llama el disco más alclamado
de Alec Empire, aunque es un término que podríamos aplicarle
a él mismo. Desde que empezó con sus primeras sesiones de
techno en Berlin en 1992, su carrera se caracteriza por intentar llevar
las cosas más lejos. Alec Empire fue el ideólogo de Atari
Teenage Riot, un grupo que se llevó por delante los tímpanos
de miles de seguidores de la vanguardia noise a base de electrónica
destructiva, metálica y nuclear.
En sus otras facetas de experimentador con la electrónica (ha
llegado a hacer discos con una Gameboy), de solicitado productor (Thurston
Moore, Bjork, Slayer y Einsturzende Neubaten), o de fundador del sello
de música extrema Digital Hardcore, pocos nombres son tan respetados
como el suyo en el campo de la vanguardia analógica.
Si su anterior álbum fue la fusión perfecta entre el ambient
expansivo y el metal digitalizado e industrial, "Futurist"
es la particular y devastadora evolución de su sonido. Estos 12
temas que nos ofrece son un delirio de adrenalina, un rejuvenecimiento
del rock, versionado a través de un tornado electrónico y
es que como dice el mismo Alec, no se puede seguir con los cánones
de hace 30 años, hay que experimentar y crear cosas nuevas.
Así nace "Futurist", la visión que tiene Alec Empire de
la rebelión del siglo 21, es la reacción emocional a lo que
pasa a nuestro alrededor, es la energía que desprende, es un paso
Atari Teenage Riot
Atari Teenage Riot nace en Berlín (Alemania) en 1992, fundado
por Alec Empire, Hanin Elias y Carl Crack (fallecido en 2001), a los que
unos años más tarde se les une Nic Endo. Desde
sus inicios se han caracterizado por su vinculación política.
Su discurso se sitúa cercano al anarquismo, con un marcado carácter
anti-fascista. Musicalmente hablando han coqueteado
siempre con Punk, pero desde un punto de vista vanguardista, fusionando
Hardcore con electrónica, dando lugar a un nuevo estilo musical
conocido como Digital Hardcore.
Su carrera fue corta, pero muy intensa, ya que con el cambio de siglo
la banda se separó. Pese a todo dejaron atrás un legado de
originalidad musical. Sus actuaciones son recordadas como
grandes orgías de agresividad y proclama política. Por
eso mismo, y antes de su separación, llamarón la atención
de Trent Reznor y tuvieron el honor de telonear a Nine Inch Nails en la
gira mundial de “Fragile” (1999-2000).
2010 significa el regreso de Atari Teenage Riot a la actualidad musical
más rabiosa, pese a que su líder Alec Empire no ha dejado
de editar discos y girar durante todo este tiempo.
“Activate” se convierte en la primera canción que compone la
banda, tras el largo silencio de prácticamente una década.
Además se embarcar en un gira extensa gira europea, a la espera
de la edición de su nuevo larga duración.
En enero de 1992 en Berlin Alec Empire, Hanin Elias and Carl Crack
forman ATARI TEENAGE RIOT.
Alec: "Before we started ATR, we were part of the techno underground
scene when it started in Germany. I made about 20 EP's on various labels
such as Force Inc. We played the first raves that took place in Germany.
Hanin and I had been in punk bands before but got bored with the fun
punk that dominated the eighties. It had lost the political message and
its musical energy. I was always into punk when it had a meaning, a political
meaning - the early 70's US bands and later a lot of the UK punk and German
New Wave punk. In this scene the bands had already begun to mix punk with
some electronics - this was really how punk was in Germany in the early
You also have to understand what Berlin was like at the time. It was
a city that was occupied by the French, English, American and Russian forces,
divided by a wall, the West, part surrounded by a wall. It had a special
status in Germany. Berliners could not vote in the German elections and
they didn't have to do national army service. I grew up with all kinds
of radio stations from other countries - you saw all these different nationalities
in Berlin, families of the soldiers and so on. We didn't feel German, we
Berlin always had a very strong left wing tradition, the revolution
after the 1st World War, one of the few cities where Hitler didn't win
the elections, the student movement in the 60's, then the left terrorist
groups like the Red Army Fraktion and Bewegung 2. Juni, the squad scene
in the 70's until the late 80's and so on. There were a lot of demonstrations
every week when I was a kid. At the very end of the eighties, the left
seemed disillusioned. Most political slogans lost their impact, their true
meaning. It was time to question the old theories.
One part of the left had made its way into parliament (the Green Party)
and tried to change the system from within by becoming a part of the establishment.
(Lately it has become very obvious that this was the wrong way to go. Because
when they finally were elected about two decades later, they realized that
they were unable to change anything.but that's another subject.) The other
half didn't seem to have the solutions either. That's why Techno - music
without lyrics - I heard over and over again, was so appealing at its beginning.
So techno, mostly Detroit techno, and early Acidhouse offered so many
new ways of experimenting with sound and rhythm that we had to get right
into it! Also at that time it was done with such minimal equipment!
We believed that this music, because it happened on white labels distributed
by underground and independent networks, would wipe away the dinosaurs
of commercial Rock and its industry structures, which made new exciting
When the Wall came down in November 1989 and Germany was reunified,
there were a lot of empty spaces in the former eastern half of Berlin that
were taken over by the techno scene. There was a lot of confusion to whom
this or that empty warehouse now belonged, so before the bureaucrats were
able to move, the raves were happening. The first two years in Berlin after
the wall came down were a very creative and powerful. And not only in this
scene, many international artists were drawn to Berlin.
Unfortunately with the Reunification, Germany had found its national
identity again. Very conservative, nationalistic values were promoted and
helped the rise of the far right and neo-nazi organizations. In the Third
Reich my grandfather had died in a concentration camp and for me to see
all these ideas becoming more and more popular again, was very hurtful
as well as dangerous.
Racism was on the rise - The conservative government used it to change
the immigration laws, the media used it to get higher rates. Attacks on
asylum seekers, foreigners, and all kinds of minorities kept happening
more and more often. A lot of people got killed, beaten to death by skinhead
groups, pushed out of moving trains by Neo-Nazis and so on.
This was the reason we formed Atari Teenage Riot. The techno scene
did'nt react to this situation in Germany; it didn't have the musical weapons
to fight it. People had started to use raves in an escapist way; it was
embarrassing. It was like people wanted to ignore what was going wrong.
Of course the drugs also played a role in that. Ecstasy was coming, before
it was speed and LSD. We decided to form a band, which was a contradiction
to the current techno ideals of the faceless DJ or producer being part
of the party and the crowd.
We wanted to show our faces, our personalities and state our opinion
about all this. We decided to create a music that combined the energy of
punk, hardcore hip hop with the sounds of techno and electronic music.
We had lived these styles of music for years, we were part of the scenes,
and we saw good elements in all of them. Also we thought we could unite
fans from all these genres with the right thoughts and political ideas,
They had been divided by fashion rules or different haircuts which had
been created mostly by the industry or already absorbed into the mainstream.
We formed in January 1992 and we wrote the track Atari Teenage Riot right
away, as a definition of the band. In spring we played our first show with
the US band Disposable Heroes of Hiphopcracy in Berlin.
We wrote songs like Start The Riot, Kids Are United, Midijunkies and
Speed. And then the Neo-Nazi attacks in Rostock and Hoyerswerda happened.
I think everyone remembers the TV footage of skinheads setting fire to
the asylums, the German population applauding and the police just watching.
This was unbelievable. We had enough. In the two nights after this happened
we wrote the track Hunt Down and Kill the Nazis!'..."
Atari Teenage Riot,s first single Hetzjagd auf Nazis (Hunt Down The
Nazis), was released autumn 1992 on Force Inc. The press reaction was enthusiastic
but it also created some hostile reactions, many of which still survive.
In 1993 Atari Teenage Riot signed a record deal with the UK Company,
Phonogram. The band spent most of the first part of the year in London
recording and released two EP,s (Atari Teenage Riot and Kids R United),
together with a number of DJ 12 inches.
In the autumn and winter of 1993 the band toured extensively in Europe
until by January 1994 it became clear that Phonogram wanted to push the
band into the techno rave corner. Shortly thereafter ATARI TEENAGE RIOT
left the major and, with the advance for an album that was never released,
founded a new label, Digital Hardcore Recordings.
The release in August 1994 of the limited single Raverbashing signified
the band's final break with any form of techno. From then on, ATARI TEENAGE
RIOT only played with live bands such as Dinosaur Jr. and rock, punk and
industrial bands. The band has now played over 300 live shows worldwide.
July 1995 saw the release of the first Atari Teenage Riot album Delete
Yourself and the double-sided EP Speed/Midijunkies on Digital Hardcore
Most of 1996 was a mixture of touring and recording culminating at
the end of the year with the release of the EP Sick To Death and the second
album The Future Of War.
Japan exploded for the group and the record was released in most countries
of the world to plenty of excitement and in some instances scepticism and
confusion. At this time there had still been no American release but Chavez,
guitarist and all round good guy (buy their album) Matt Sweeney brought
Atari Teenage Riot to the attention of Mike Diamond at Grand Royal.
In late 1996 Grand Royal released a series of 7" singles by Alec Empire,
Atari Teenage Riot, Shizuo and Ec8or and followed this in 1997 with the
release of Atari Teenage Riot,s first album in the U.S. Burn Berlin Burn.
Because the band was new to America this album took the best of Delete
Yourself and The Future Of War and combined them into a definitive encapsulation
of their current sound.
ATR toured with bands like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Beck, Wu-Tang
Clan and Rage Against The Machine. Nic Endo joined the band for these tours
and stayed as the fourth member.
The third album, 60 Second Wipe Out, was released world wide in May
1999 and was followed by intensive touring. It featured the singles, Revolution
Action and Too Dead For Me. Two acclaimed videos for these singles directed
by Andrea Giaccobe and John Hillcoat respectively are available on the
DHR video compilation.
The band joined Nine Inch Nails on their European tour and recorded
the live album ATR - Live At Brixton Academy 1999.
In October 2000 Atari Teenage Riot released a one off single, Rage,
featuring the guitars of Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine. A version
of this with more of a hip hop feel was released in the U.S. only featuring
vocals by D'Stroy (ex Arsonists).
© Digital Hardcore Recordings
Delete Yourself! (DHR 1995)
The Future of War (DHR 1996)
Burn, Berlin, Burn! (Grand Royal 1997)
Live in Philadelphia - Dec. 1997 (DHR 1998)
60 Second Wipeout (DHR 1999)
Live at Brixton Academy (DHR 1999)
Redefine the Enemy - Rarities and B-Side Compilation 1992-1999 (DHR
Atari Teenage Riot: 1992-2000 (DHR 2006)