Are They for Hyperreal?
It’s only taken fifty years, but we in America have finally begun to learn that music in Germany didn’t just take a hiatus from the ’30s until Kraftwerk, Rammstein and the Hoff. With the reissuing of krautrock opuses like Can’s Tago Mago and Cluster’s Zuckerzeit, the evolutionary chart of electronica was finally a complete flow from single-celled Tangerine Dream to the sapien sounds of the present.However, evolution works in mysterious ways sometimes.
Like some aberrant missing link, Atari Teenage Riot emerged from the primordial ooze, too weird to live, but far too rare to die. As their contemporaries in the Neue Deutsches Harte scene fell victim to the very excesses of traditional Western heavy metal they’d hoped to avoid, Atari Teenage Riot not only maintained the credibility of their political mission, but produced solid albums in the midst of misguided decade. Turns out this auk had wings!
Is This Hyperreal? could have been a truly awful album. With the amount of buzz generated before its release, Alec Empire could have recorded himself farting into a microphone and it would have sold. Atari Teenage Riot, however, have never been a group to rest on their laurels. Is this Hyperreal? takes the idea that “fury can be power” but blends it with an intelligent, clear-headed political statement. Rather than just being a soapbox for the militant left, the sapience of the lyrics mostly act as the breadcrumb trail guiding us under and past their wall of sound. Be warned, young Gretel, it’s an easy trail to lose.
While the histories of both punk rock and radical politics are both marred by the deluge of sell-outs, burn outs, recanters and plastic shamans, Atari Teenage Riot is a rare example of the opposite. Uncompromising, unflinching and dissatisfied, Is This Hyperreal? isn’t just an album title; it’s a direct question. Is this hyperreal?