HAPPY HARDCORE IS ALIVE AND WELL
At the beginning of this year, if anyone had suggested to me that happy hardcore was going to resurface, or even thrive, I would have probably had a quick chuckle about it, and then went about my day, not giving it a second thought. As far as I was concerned, the genre was like a person you meet in your youth, fall deeply in love with, and before you know it… *poof, they’re gone forever! For me, Happy Hardcore WAS the one that got away!
In June I wrote an article about a remix of Dune’s classic, “Rainbow To The Stars”, by DJ Entity, which was the first time since 1998 when I had personally heard a track which captured everything I associated with happy hardcore in its heyday; the sounds, the energy, the emotional response… it was all there! It was an incredibly rare nostalgic treat for me, and I just assumed it must be a one-off. Sure, I’ve heard the ongoing UK hardcore vs happy hardcore debate (and have even been dragged into it from time to time,) but I have never considered the genres to be one and the same. There has always been distinction between them, at least in my humble opinion.
Since writing the review, I’ve been paying close attention to other new releases and noticed that there seems to be a developing trend of artists dipping their feet into the happy hardcore pool. The tools and technology available today for producing music have advanced considerably since the 90’s, so the latest tracks definitely have a more modern sound to them, but underneath all of the added bells and whistles is that classic, familiar sound of our (or at least my) long lost love!
I’m not saying that modern happy hardcore is going to take over the rave scene, or even reach the monumental heights that it’s remembered for. It’s all about how well the ravers receive the music in the first place, so only time will tell. However, one man in particular seems to be playing an integral role in supporting the growth of the genre in 2021… DJ Entity.
Earlier today, Brutal Kuts, a recently formed label pushing the sounds of big kick, happy hardcore, and freeform, dropped a new compilation mixed by DJ Entity. Naturally the release was on my radar, and the very minute I was able to put my headphones on and give it my undivided attention, I did. I can also tell you that I haven’t stopped playing it since, and even as I am writing this very article, I’m simultaneously bumping my head along to what can simply be described in a nutshell, as a relentless assault of banging beats and energy! Or, more appropriately, I can just refer to it by its title, which also sums it up pretty well… That Big Kick Sound – Volume 1.
Before anything else even happens, the 5 second intro already has a cheeky feel to it, which immediately made me think of some of Paul Elstak’s earlier releases. As the first beats drop, the aptly named title of the compilation makes perfect sense as a big bassy kick, not unlike the one Hixxy and Sharkey used in ‘Toytown’, teases its way in through a pattern of breakbeats, also not unlike the aforementioned classic. You don’t even need to be 30 seconds into the hour long mix to recognize that what you’re listening to is actual happy hardcore!
In the early stages of the mix, the banging beats are met with a barrage of beautiful piano breakdowns… the type which in the glory days, made the hairs on the back of your neck feel like they were standing straight up like porcupine spines! As the mix progresses, the energy continues to build with elements of freeform, hardstyle, rawstyle, and UK hardcore, all beefing up the overall feel and demeanor of the music, while still maintaining an uplifting, happy hardcore vibe.
If you ever wondered what it would be like to hear a full set of modern happy hardcore in the present day, this compilation will answer all of your curiosities. If all you want is a mix of banging new tunes to nod your head along to… it will most certainly satisfy that urge too! You can get your own copy now from Brutal Kuts through Bandcamp, and I strongly suggest you do!
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Thanks for reading!