Atari Teenage Riot - 60 Second Wipeout (1999)
The defining album of the AxA movement
Atari Teenage Riot started as a side project by Alec Empire, which later became a full-fledged band. Unfortunately, the band couldn’t be held together, and their alienating aesthetics and sound were way ahead of their time. “60 Second Wipeout” is their best album to date and nothing quite like it will ever come again.
Alec Empire created his version of gabber hardcore music, which he dubbed, “digital hardcore,” as a hybrid mixed between actual hardcore punk music and as well the crash and craziness of digital electronic music. The “Atari” is the name that comes from the Atari ST computer, which was one of the first computers to have a universal MIDI out to sequence electronic gear.
Empire has always had a funny side to his work. He never took his electronic experimentation seriously, until he got recognition for his innovative and wonky manipulation of the Amen break throughout his white-label releases. The idea of a band only came together when acts like The Prodigy or The KLF made techno a popular alternative to punk music. Atari Teenage Riot was the perfect competitor, and Empire upped the ante on how electronic music is performed.
Atari Teenage Riot always came from a cyberpunk influence, realizing that Japan would soon rule over the world. Anime, Asian culture, and mecha futurism were a recurring theme for them. Anime samples, gabber beats, Riot Grrl screams, all in a strange forced Eurasianist way that outdid the acts of Shonen Knife and Cibo Matto. 60 Second Wipeout is a hard album. It’s not a proper one, and no poppy single exists on this one. It’s a pure headbanger mosh fest for 54 minutes with no remorse.
The first track, “Revolution Action” gets immediately to the point. The breakbeat is hard like an adrenaline blood rush. The point is to get up and commit an act of violence.
“By Any Means Necessary” continues the noise collage into political ranting, while “Western Decay” adds fuel to that fire. It’s hard to say if these are proper songs are manageable clips to a live experience.
“Atari Teenage Riot II” is a triumphant theme song that gets any party started. Only the name, and the “Gos” are the only thing audible. “Ghostchase” follows the same formula. Yelling, crying, and abuse are threatened by the listener. They don’t care about you.
“Too Dead For Me” is catchy. It’s something out of Sega’s Jet Set Radio Future, where men should go skating, spray graffiti all over town, and chase after beautiful Eurasian punk rock chicks.
“US Fade Out” and “The Virus Has Been Spread” will destroy your sound system. But it’s “Digital Hardcore” that stands out; fusing breakcore, metal, noise, and screaming all together. This track is pure evil. The track soon morphs into a feedback tragedy, and we are no longer listening to a proper song anymore. It feels like the song deteriorated into nothing.
“Death Of A President D.I.Y.!” and “Your Uniform (Does Not Impress Me!)” are classics. It’s easy to sing over the same loud beat over and over again. At this point, it feels like “Revolution Action” was one long song, and these are for those who stood in the audience and waited for something new to happen.
“No Success” and “Anarchy 999” are magical. “Destroy the USA!!!” is right in the lyrics. Also, “Y2K deletes us from the program!!” Once the new year comes, everything will die with it. Anarchy 999 is pure poetry. The album ends immediately with no outro or anything. Just a sudden stop.
60 Second Wipeout is noise music. It’s filled with an extreme hatred for the modern world. Its lyrical abstractions around death and technological destruction are beyond what anyone can imagine. It’s music made for a punk culture when the Anglo and capitalist world collapsed. What’s left are the Eurasians and the offspring of an Asian society that fought back against such decadent forces. A new punk subculture emerges from technology and this Asian-influenced futurism. Atari Teenage Riot was always the manifestation of the AxA movement and its artistic struggle against everything.
So many other albums tried to copy this peculiar album in the last 20 years. All of them wanted to create the spirit of digital hardcore. This was a further realization that the Asian influence in Atari Teenage Riot could not be separated from the digital hardcore genre itself. The misconception is that the genre is supposed to be punk hardcore with a drum machine, and that is incredibly wrong. Real digital hardcore is about anime realism, Eurasian futurism, and what punks would look like living under Japanese hegemony. The album is truly suicidal against what labels are forced upon them.
Soon after, Atari Teenage Riot broke up. Empire tried to reform the band again and toured the United States one more time in 2011. It is still undecided if Empire will ever tour under the name again.
60 Second Wipeout is a landmark. There is no such thing as “breakcore” because this album defined the term itself. What is missing today is the subculture that came from Atari Teenage Riot. Both guys and gals can rock out to this album and demand a greater Asiansexuality in this corrupted and lying world. This album defines my personal aesthetics and political beliefs. The next action is to intellectualize what Atari Teenage Riot gave us, and how we can resurrect the spirit again.
That’s where the AxA movement comes in. And everyone needs to listen to this record to understand what we are about.