ATARI TEENAGE RIOT Live At Brixton Academy 1999 (Digital Hardcore Recordings)
"Live At Brixton Academy 1999" captures, presumably in its entirety, the final performance in Atari Teenage Riot's year-long Revolution Action World Tour, the German band appearing at the request of headliners Nine Inch Nails. The band members were physically and mentally wrecked, beset by drugs problems, legal hassles and press misrepresentation, and forbidden to perform by their doctors (although you have to wonder whether that advice was given on musical or health grounds). For this final concert, they, in leader Alec Empire's words, planned "a pure noise show and we'd start it right at the point where we'd normally end an Atari Teenage Riot concert".
"Live At Brixton Academy 1999" contains one untitled track, 26 minutes and 47 seconds long, split over two sides of vinyl. It's a monstrous piece of anti-music, bursting with distortion and desperation, the sound of creaking electronics pushed way beyond breaking point. There's nothing you'd categorise as melodic, rhythmic or harmonic about the whole cacophonous experience. It exists somewhere out in the farthest reaches of what can be done with and expected from recorded sound, territory unmapped even by the extremist likes of Moby's Guinness Book Of Records entrant "Thousand" (for a while officially the fastest song ever recorded, hitting 1000 bpm at times), Neil Young's compilation of feedback, amp noise and end-of-song bangs and crashes "Arc", Aphex Twin or Jeff Mills at their most headachingly intense, or such acknowledged classics of noise rock as My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless" and The Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat". You'll either walk away in uncomprehending disbelief or be pinned, grinning, to the back wall of your lounge, as I was. Not pretty, and unlikely to garner much in the way of repeat plays, nevertheless it's one of the least compromised records ever released, and a music lover of a certain kind of mentality will delight in the fact that it lurks on his or her shelves, waiting to be unleashed.