Clubbers' Decktionary: Gabber
A guide to the myriad genres of clubbing, from Trouble's DJ Hobbes
Gabber proper noun: wildly up-tempo (140-220 bpm) spin-off from hardcore techno, industrial and rave. Began in the early 90s and has remained a die-hard force in Europe (especially the Netherlands and Scotland) and Australia. Traditionally dominated by heavily distorted 909 kicks (from the Roland TR-909 drum machine), Juno synth sounds (namely the moody ‘hoover’ patch) and samples with x-rated, drug-related or violent themes.
Origins Frankfurt DJ Marc Trauner’s 1990 track ‘We Have Arrived’ (as Mescalinum United) was officially the first gabber track. But, allegedly a Yiddish slang word for ‘pal’, Gabber (pronounced ‘habba’ by the Dutch) took root in Holland, via Rotterdam’s ongoing rivalry with Amsterdam, whose house scene was at the time widely perceived as overwhelmingly cooler-than-thou and constantly in the media spotlight, to the detriment of Rotterdam. Amsterdam DJ KC The Funkaholic reportedly said of the Rotterdam scene that ‘they’re just a bunch of gabbers having fun.’ Rotterdam DJ Paul Elstak consequently engraved the mantra ‘It’s not a sin to be Gabber’ on his Rotterdam Records label debut, Amsterdam, ‘Where Is That?’ by De Euromasters.
Key figures Gabber has been repeatedly refracted via slower mainstream/nu style hardcore and happy hardcore strains (Hixxy, Sharkey, Loftgroover et al), industrial hardcore (Brooklyn native Lenny Dee’s Industrial Strength Recordings) and hard house (the Tidy Trax, Nukleuz and Toolbox labels). Scott Brown (of Scottish rave legends Q-Tex), Hellfish, DJ Producer, Bryan Fury, Deathmachine, Teknoist and DJ Smurf are all UK gabber stars.
There’s also Terrorcore/Deathcore and Speedcore/Splitercore (over 300/500-900bpm): Dutchman Noisekick, Tokyo’s m1dy, Toronto’s DJ Plague, Buenos Aires’s Superius, Paperboyz & Psybermind, plus US star Moby’s homage, ‘1000’. Grindcore meets Gabber for the Cybergrind of Melbourne outfit The Berzerker; and breakcore features drum & bass’s evergreen Amen break, heavily distorted, and those irrepressible ‘Gabber Kicks’.
Hear some gabber at GBXperience NYE, the Arches, Glasgow, Sat 31 Dec.