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Powerstomp: An Overview
With a new album on the horizon and their sets gaining popularity at events across the country, DJ Kurt & Joey Riot may just have found their niche in the market - at last
When DJ Kurt's "Straight From the Underground" first dropped around 2008, I remember thinking:
A. Why don't Lethal Theory get more credit for what they do in the Hardcore scene?
B. As hard a track as it was, it couldn't quite be Gabber, because the bass just wasn't quite crazy enough, and the distortion didn't carry enough weight to translate fully to Gabber. As a bedroom DJ, I began treating it as a transition track, using it as a bridge between "No More" by Darwin, Rampant & Ant Johnson and "Nocturnal Rituals" by Tommyknocker (admittedly older, but one of my favourite Gabber tracks that I would always mix). Little did I know that this track would start the revolution that led to Powerstomp.
Those who fear for UK Hardcore's very existence with the arrival of Dubcore (loved by many, hated by many others) have seen the emergence of Powerstomp as the saviour of the scene. Hard, four-to-the-floor and relentlessly driven music has never been so furious. Massively influenced by Hardstyle and Hard Dance, Powerstomp also sometimes fuses airy rhythmic vocals for an almost chilling combination.
But Powerstomp's bread and butter will always be the simplest of ingredients: starting off with the triple kick, a deep, driving and often one-tone bass that relentlessly powers through track after track, and a cacophonous riff that bounces off the hard kicks and swirls around like a tornado of energy. The main sections are usually built up with compressed, quieter versions of the kick & bass mixdowns that follow. The overall effect is one of immense vigour that you can't help but nod your head to (even in tricky head-nodding circumstances).
Joey Riot & DJ Kurt started out life in UK Hardcore a long time ago, getting their initial breaks with the tracks "Time of My Life" and "Rock Ya Hardcore" respectively. And both artists achieved much success, featuring on the Hardcore Nation/Adrenaline series and Bonkers albums. But Kurt's experimental Hardcore (such as "I Don't Like It", which ironically drew mixed reactions) and Joey Riot's somewhat samey production style seemed to slow the progress of two very talented DJs. Even when the duo did create fantastic gems, such as "Sit & Wait For You" by Kurt & Sara, or Riot's "Enchanted", it always felt as though they got a little bit lost in the Hardcore shuffle.
So differentiation was needed. Lethal Theory Records needed a new sound to combat the ever-increasing influx of producers flooding the scene. Fusing the experimental sounds that Kurt & Riot had put together (such as in remixes of "Make it Bounce", "Makin' Me Wanna Dance" and what is known as the Riot Powerbounce remix of "Straight from the Underground") with a structure that was their own.
The first instance of Powerstomp that I came across sounded fresh, despite being a remix. This probably tells you all you need to know about the sub-genre. Is it everyone's cup of tea? Maybe not. But if you like your tea with ten spoons of chilli powder and enough Red Bull to keep a camel walking for a month, then Powerstomp is for you.
Is it all about the Powerstomp? Joey Riot, DJ Kurt and the Lethal Theory team think so. Time will show if the demand will ride the current wave of popularity. But one thing is for sure; Kurt & Riot have found their niche. Finally.
Is Powerstomp the future? Do you hate Powerstomp? Leave your comments below...
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Current Classic Track of Choice: Joey Riot & Chaos - Get Down (FREE DOWNLOAD!)