Last week in Dancing music in the C20 we looked at the aggressive, white, funk-anemic dance sounds of new beat that were coming out of countries like Belgium.
Just over the border in the Netherlands, the Dutch would kick off the 1990s with the most extreme dance music ever produced. Whereas new beat was defined by its tight control of tempos, the Rotterdam evolution offered a pulverising, comically speeded-up barrage of thudding Roland 909 kick drum and repitched vocal samples.
When one leading Amsterdam DJ was asked what he thought about the new Rotterdam sound, he replied “They’re just a bunch of gabbers having fun” – gabbers being a mangled take on a Yiddish word for mate or buddy. The Rotterdam pranksters, who loved to wind everyone up, seized on ‘gabber’ as a label for their scene.
Listening to the relentless pounding of gabber at volume, you have the sensation of every organ in your body being punched at once. Over and over again.