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Gabber Eleganza Never Sleep Vol. 1 Presto!?

Euphoria wins the day on Alberto Guerrini’s three-track gabber EP. What began as an archival tumblr space dedicated to re-examining the oft-maligned fringes of hardcore has been taking physical form since early last year, with Guerrini creating zines and DJing with hakke dancers, so stepping in the studio was always the next logical step.

Released on Lorenzo Senni’s Presto!? label, Gabber Eleganza treats the music of its devotion in much the same way Senni does with trance, another sound largely derided among modern dance circles. The pummelling abrasion and intense speeds are present here, but at just shy of 170bpm, and with a focus on dynamics and tension, it does a good job of making it accessible to people who likely watch footage of nutty kids in Belgium, Rotterdam or Glasgow at gabber raves and think ‘what the fuck is that?’

Opener Junonica breathlessly builds with jagged synth stabs but settles in a deep rumble without erupting. The title track wouldn’t sound out of place on Bicep’s 2017 LP, which was a melancholic ode to rave, if the pounding kicks were swapped out for a breakbeat, while Total Football is disconcertingly menacing and gorgeous in equal measure: skittish laser-guided stabs bloom with a bubblegum sweetness along galloping snares.

Dance music isn’t scary any more, having been firmly co-opted by the mainstream. Gabber offers a glimpse back in time, when an older generation were shocked and disgusted by what kids did in fields and warehouses at the weekend. The sight of skinheads covered head to toe in tattoos and dressed like football hooligans may drag up more negative connotations than a lot of people are comfortable with. But Gabber Eleganza goes a long way in showing there’s more to it. There’s beauty and unity to be found here.