Atari Teenage Riot ‘Is This Hyperreal?’

Atari Teenage Riot
‘Is This Hyperreal’ (Digital Hardcore) Available now

‘How much blood will it take’ scream Atari Teenage Riot on the anthemic ‘The Only Slight Glimmer Of Hope’, still not backing down and still using the noise and confusion of the Arab spring, the end of capitalism, riots and corporate greed to create a very different kind of love song.

These are the end times. Global meltdown, riots on the streets, the rich getting richer.
The world choking with pollution and poison. There is a big change going on.

And what does pop culture do about it?


We don’t expect anything from X Factor world. That’s about celebrity culture and the brand ”˜judges’ grabbing the loot whilst laughing at the groveling karaoke props. We do expect some kind of reaction from the ‘indie’ bands, the so called alternative groups who offer nothing but clever marketing to create the illusion of alternative.

Look at the festival headliners, are they alternative? Alternative to what? So polished and sensible it makes you sick. Pretend alternative to make everyone feel happy and comfortable. Fake indie. Indie fakers. The right trousers. The right branding. They offer nothing but a slight feeling of hipness. 30 page pull outs in Sunday mags on what the right wellies to wear at a festival are. Backstage festival pictures of soap stars that no one cares about, non celebrities with nothing to celebrate. Meanwhile the bankers are laughing. They are probably the as well with their picnic hampers and their Champagne. Getting the festival ‘experience’. Everyone is now alternative. Lovely.

Key member Alec Empire says it’s a ‘protest album for the Google age’ and their combination of squat raves and left field post Crass protest punk sounds as vibrant as ever. Using technology to get the pump that trad instruments are not capable of this is an artful, wild noise and a rare chance to hear machines sound so emotionally deranged. A real alternative.

We don’t expect every band to be on the barricades. What’s the point? Lots of the greatest music has been about nothing. But we would like the word alternative back. Please don’t pretend U2 or Coldplay are alternative, one doesn’t pay taxes and one is quite taxing.

This is where Atari Teenage Riot come in.

If only as a sonic measure of just how uncomfortable music can make you. They don’t sound like Coldplay. They sound like a fucking riot. Not everyone is a revolutionary. Not everyone has to be a revolutionary. Atari Teenage Riot operate within and without the system. Like all the great music revolutionaries, they just ask questions, they don’t pose all the answers and where they really score is with their music which, as ever, is the stark techno punk they made their name on.

I’m not sure if it’s because they have polished up the production or the world has caught up with them (and they have been ripped off endlessly) but this album is listenable with lots of space, it’s almost pop, but that’s a pop that is not the sound of daytime radio, this is the adrenalin rush of a Greek riot or the collapse of the banks. Pop that is awake to the real world like the Beatles caught the rush of optimism in the sixties with the electricity of guitars ATR catch the confused apocalyptic rush of these times lyrically and sonically. Sonically because they really do sound like the blips and beeps of the Internet culture whilst warning of its pratfalls.

It’s been 12 years since Atari Teenage Riot released an album and even if the world has caught up with them they still sound as visceral and powerful as ever. There is a burning anger and fierce intelligence to the music and even a strange calming beauty on tracks like Shadow Beauty.

Rearrange Your Synapses is a stark statement of intent, it starts with a manifesto with new member CX Mantronix ranting at the world in the intro before key long term member Nic Endo lists just about every sleepwalking into the abyss problem we have right now from the Internet to technology to the government machine. The music is a perfect match, gabba, punk and computer games pushed through an elephantine compression and distortion. It’s the kind of thing that Atari Teenage Riot do so well. A snapshot of a future sung over futuristic music. They are the punks that ditched the guitars and melted keyboards instead. They warn us about the future and technology and use both to create their music and their whole statement.

Their last album was 1999 and they split and seemed to be gone for ever but their return had been a triumph.

Born in the Kreuzberg Berlin squat scene of the early eighties, where radicalism was part of the DNA, ATR are one of the last bands to make the stand. They are internationalists with international music. They are looking through the garbage can of modern culture and sticking it back together and they are making new millennium rock n roll with none of the trad instruments. They are true a true alternative surrounded by a world full of dustbin indie fakers. They are the wake up call to the cosy indie rabbits caught in the glare of the mainstream spotlight.

They are dark and dangerous and make a supreme filthy noise that you can dance to. Digital mayhem and sonic meltdown. This is the future. The end times now have a soundtrack.

Wake up.


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6 comments on “Atari Teenage Riot ‘Is This Hyperreal?’”

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  1. Anthony Barrett

    U2 & Coldplay an ‘Alternative’? Did anyone really ever say that?

    Since ATR were last with us, the Western world had years of unregulated and encouraged consumption.
    Here in the UK, the last government were masters of the sell, the current ones are masters of the sell-off, not a blip in the scheme of things.

    We’ve had unprecedented marketing proliferation, lifestyles being sold ‘off the peg’ we’ve been told ‘you can have everything you want when you want it’ and people have signed up in their millions for these invisible comforts.

    It has seen pretty much seen all truly tooth baring musical rebellion go AWOL, mainly out of sheer laziness or heads being buried in the sand, but also, more importantly because no musician really wanted to put their balls on the line by being out of step and uncool with a predominantly Left Wing cuddling media.
    This is where, however credible and genuinely important they actually were, and despite no real affiliation, just a sense of common sense, ATR seemed to come a cropper last time round.

    Finding even underground press reporting on them without a large dose of \’patronising\’ back then would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack, it’s nice to see they’re getting taken relatively seriously now, but are they not just being seen now as another \’faux dangerous\’ label to wear and not the genuine threat they are?
    I hope to God not, but observing their last London show, unfortunately, I\’m only 50/50 on this.

    Not only do ATR have to inform, inspire, activate and generally put a bomb under people’s asses like before (y’know, like all bands have a duty to do), but the whole creative layout’s changed, not to mention the methods of assimilation on the punters part.
    They may be more relevant than ever before now, but how do they really get in people’s faces with the blizzard of crap getting punted unfiltered into the air now?

    How exactly do they stand out as opposed to one-song designer stadia botherers like say Pendulum & Chase & Status who are conveniently filling the ‘riot’ gap.
    Bands you can mosh like a maniac too AND take i-Phone footage of you and your mates in the pit and then post on Facebook before the gigs are even over, bands with NO message to speak of.

    Likewise, heavily controlled and branded Teen icons like Tinie Tempah, N-Dubz & Tinchy Stryder with their insulated smalltown stories and identifiable street experiences who are drilling the susceptible nations youth with the rules on how to dress, how to (be a ) play(er), and how to think.

    Fans of bands like this may not even really know or care what a ‘Global Meltdown’ is to be fair, or give two shits about Egypt & Syria as opposed to their trainers or someone that looked at them a bit funny, and the bands themselves certainly aren’t going to put them straight because they’re too busy talking about the aspirational quality of their lives and recently purchased modern consumables which are all spookily available as links on their websites at the click of a mouse.

    As I see it though, unfortunately, it’s fans of bands like this that ATR have to go head to head with to make any real impression now, not really fans of the likes of Coldplay & U2, these people are beyond help and buried under a pile of fluffy slippers, MLK biogs, Mumford tickets on their coffee table and work-out Wii’s.

    I seriously hope ATR carry on making the brilliant music they do and their star continues to rise, I also hope they, as they look to be, chuck a few nice Pop curveballs in there to lure the ‘kids’ and unconverted in, as a lifelong fan, I can swallow that as part of the program if it means more heads are tuned in, even ones holding their phones in the air to get a blurry pic of Nic & Alec, it’s the least I can wish on them for their loyalty to the cause, but it may be one of their only chances to get new bodies on board now and I can’t help thinking though that if people in the press had taken ATR seriously when they were around first time, we wouldn’t be in this vapid mess and having this conversation now, THEY\’D be headlining Glastonbury, and Glastonbury would be free.

  2. Quite the ‘burn’ on Indie-viduals. They ARE such superficial wastes of oxygen, aren’t they?

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