By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Much recent techno/electronic/jungle/ house/whatever music is innocuous: funny electronic blips and bloops over click tracks with clever samples thrown in here and there. Designed to make you dance, it has become the background music for a lifetime of consumerism, used to sell everything from the new Dodge to Phillips CD recorders. The best way to enjoy it is to make a tape of random techno/jungle/ house cuts and drive around downtown St. Louis after dark. Pretend you're Rick Deckard of Blade Runner, cruising through abandoned cities of the future in search of android replicants to waste while a digital stream of programmed drumbeats, filter washes and bloop-blat-blurts spikes the drama quotient. It's cheap, cheesy Tuesday-night fun and less embarrassing than a sci-fi convention.
But if you want some real fun, put Kid 606's Down with the Scene in your deck. You'll go from fantasizing you're hard-drinkin', robot-killin' Rick Deckard to believing you're quick-tempered, human-huntin' Roy Batty, rogue replicant with some serious glitches in your core programming. Down with the Scene is not Kid 606's declaration of solidarity with the electronic-music community, it's his call to murder everything safe and predictable that electronic music has become. In his hands, those filter washes, drumbeats and clever samples sound alive and dangerous and oppressive, a blizzard of digital information that actually makes you feel exhilarated, and not just by the urge to dance. Down with the Scene is the onset of revolution, the noise of punk rock bringing techno out of Powerbook-wielding beat-hoarders' bedrooms and into the streets.
Kid 606 is interesting because of his willingness to destroy what he's created. On "Juvenile Hall Roll Call," he creates a beat, then throws in some hardcore power electronics (think Merzbow, or a battleship being dropped from space orbit onto a contact mike) and makes the two fight to the death. While the beat and the noise slug it out at a furious pace, 606 chucks random data from his sample bank into the fray, creating multilevel collages of rhythmic blare that are heavy enough to drain sinuses at 50 paces. Hrvåtski's remix of Kid 606's "My Kitten" starts out gently enough with an ambient loop worthy of Eno, then is strafed by dueling drumbeats and harshtronic shrieks that relent briefly, allowing disembodied voices to float through the murk. Over and over, 606 makes a song, only to explode, fold, spindle or mutilate said song, then pick up the scattered pieces and use them to smash the song into smaller bits. Down with the Scene is loud, clever and unpredictable, the sound of technology being turned against itself. You don't just listen to it, you survive it.