Looking for trouble? You came to the right place. ‘Live At Brixton Academy 1999’ is one almighty blast of ear-chomping sonic malevolence recorded last November, at the climax of a punishing tour which saw Berlin’s noise-shredding guvnors on the verge of mental and physical collapse, including an apparent midair nervous breakdown by MC Carl Crack. We might be tempted to extrapolate overt signs of this behind-the-scenes chaos from the record’s cacophonous contents, except that ATR have always sounded loud and angry and fucked-up to the max.
But, admittedly, never [I]quite[/I] as fucked-up as this before. Just 27 minutes long and compressed into a single track, this is not so much a performance as an attempt to punch a gaping hole in the space-time continuum and rip its throbbing purple guts out with a giant sonic pitchfork. It’s aggressive, abrasive, breathtakingly brutal and unlikely ever to be chosen on [I]Desert Island Discs[/I].
Key to this ground-breaking dissonance is new-ish member Nic Endo, mistress of merciless machine torture. While Atari shows once used recognisable beats, samples and riffs – albeit revved to the limit of speedcore distortion – Endo seems to have pushed them over the edge into a black hole of pure inhuman noise.
For the strong of stomach, we particularly recommend the cataclysmic electropunk ejaculations around three minutes 40, the sound of Satan himself sharpening his huge mechanical rotating knives at 13 minutes 45, the Panzer division of crazed Pokimons committing mass suicide at 24 minutes 10, and the blessed relief which dawns around 26 minutes 48 when you realise the storm has passed and that which has not killed you has left you, er, feeling violently sick.
Any appreciation of this record, then, lies not in orthodox critical standards but in how extreme and masochistic your taste for sonic punishment is – or how murderously grim your sense of humour. If you have ever discerned apocalyptic beauty in Neil Young‘s ‘Arc’, nihilistic purity in Lou Reed‘s ‘Metal Machine Music’, cathartic splendour in prime time Napalm Death or blowtorch majesty in My Bloody Valentine‘s nuclear meltdown finale to their 1991 tour, then ‘Live At Brixton Academy 1999’ will rock what remains of your brain until it spurts out your ears. Respect.