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When the first french hardcore productions appeared in 1994 (Weapons, GTI, Explore Toi) the tone was set for a sound that differed considerably from what was around at the time, most notably the Gabber scene that had begun to dominate (and some might argue, spoil) the hard-side productions maybe a year earlier. Of course there had been renegades and pioneers mainly in Germany – most importantly C-Tank, but also some stuff on the PCP sublabel SS, Urban Primitivism on Pod, some Praxis and some Monotone stuff – but it was the advent of the french underground that created a whole new field of what became a fairly distinct sound dominated by the fastest succession of repetitive beats around that supplies a steady backbone to freestyle electronic experiments much more noise-based than their east German and Australian speedcore counterparts (who certainly drew some inspiration from Gangstar Toons Industry) who take a lot of elements for their post-Gabber whirlwinds from speedmetal and hip hop.

The seminal record in the french context must be Explore-Toi’s first release Trrr, but that – along with the first Epiteth release by Ingler was only the beginning. While Explore-Toi and Mobile Squat Base drifted off into brutal monotonous live-trips and No Tek split off, offering a more organised approach, Epiteth and eXperiMental Fear developed a more geometrical and architectural concrete industrial sound, other combinations got tried and tested in other areas like Britanny’s Harshcore (so far there’s no releases, but some of the most advanced DJing styles), combining power electronics, synthetic screams and hammering beats.

In the meantime in Toulouse two sisters, Stella (Auto-Psy, Mouse) and Poka (No Name) Michelson started releasing their material in 1996 after making music for years previously, developing the most advanced and positively extreme form of the current speedcore. The first release on the local Fraktal label is a 5-tracker of relentless assaults of steady hammering bassdrums with sudden surges of percussion and splinters of noise. The next release as Auto-Psy Arachnide on Fischkopf perfected this approach of calculated brutalism taking the listener/ dancer to realms s/he hardly experienced before. An incredible sharpness of perception is required and achieved. Phuturistic shock tactics of multidimensional urgency. This line is continued on a more recent release on the Toulouse based Anticore label as Mouse in a slightly slower pace, a brilliant record as well except that unfortunately the cut is at a very low volume level which spoils the impact of the sounds slightly.

Equally dangerous are the tracks of No Name who has so far released two records on the Hamburg based Fischkopf label. Fast paced and more cerebral than razor-like the tracks have their own special atmosphere created by the swirling noises and shrill meanderings of atonal screeches, down to the amorphous darkness of k-head speedcore hell of Start E.nd (on Fisch 16), I’d argue one of the most advanced and audacious tracks of last year. Her latest release Les Loups des Trois Lunes is pure speedcore that is at once sinister and claustrophobic, disturbing and introverted, murderous and poetic.
These are some of the most out-there experimental and visionary records ever made in the context of super-fast hardcore.

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