ome genres of music, like art movements, exist for different purposes and evolve for different reasons. In guitar based music, pop’s ultimate endless ideal is to be as palatable as possible and to endear itself to as wide an audience as possible. Rock offers the harder edged mainstream music fans a place to vent their aggression. Dance music operates on a different level, but does attempt to find the same end result as a large portion of music. Trance is dance’s form of pop music. House takes on the role of rock music, the more aggressive older cousin to trance. But what about gabber, then? Gabber may have its closest cousin in guitar rock in the genre of metal. Both genres are much maligned by mainstream fans, they both seem to be a bit cartoonish in some respects, and both are a large amount of fun- if you get into the mood.
Knifehandchop can be taken as a load of fun. Beats that ingrain themselves into the listener’s skull, simplistic keyboard melodies, and humorous chopped up voices all interact on this debut LP by the artist. But there is also the fact that both metal and gabber can sound incredibly annoying taken in large doses by the uninitiated. This is the inherent problem with subgenres. The tolerance level for subgenres is far lower for people that don’t listen to the music very often. The more familiarity that is bred, the easier it is to enjoy the quirks of that particular genre. The most successful artwork, however, should be at once easily accessible and very challenging. Knifehandchop does not fulfill either of these requirements, however, by placing its music firmly within a certain subgenre. Knifehandchop isn’t exactly gabber, of course. It would be much more aptly placed within a genre aking to drill ‘n bass’s take on drum ‘n bass. A skewering of the genre, but an obvious tribute is paid by working within the genre, in the first place.
It seems that Knifehandchop takes particular glee in cutting up the beats and inserting computer voices into his songs. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that a large portion of these songs contain these features. When the hyperspeed beats don’t feature computerized voices, there is also a videogame track which features Ryu’s voice from Streetfighter fame. On “Dancemix 1992”, the most successful of all tracks, if for the simple fact that it offers some sort of commentary, as slight as it may be, there are a number of dance tracks from- you guessed it- 1992. All of the clichés are brought forth, even “Whoomp! There It Is”. The take that Knifehandchop takes on the tracks is a very schizophrenic one, looping the beats that intrigue him making them lose their meaning, reflecting the fact that they had little to no meaning before. In the spirit of the ever popular bootleg scene, nowadays, Knifehandchop cuts and mixes the tracks that were very well known ten years ago, but only bring a grimace to most pop fan’s faces today. With a recent track on the Tigerbeat6 compilation anybody can clearly see what kind of group that Knifehandchop has targeted as his audience- IDM fans tired of the ultra-seriousness that permeates many of its releases. Unfortunately, there are far more talented and engaging producers pulling of the same tricks on the compilation and it may be that Knifehandchop only becomes a footnote in the history of this US upsurge in IDM.
The very fact that Knifehandchop embraces the sounds of computers and video games could have him branded as a nerd. This is entirely the point. By embracing the geeky portion of the culture, Knifehandchop will ensnare two types of fans. It could be postulated that, at some point, Knifehandchop will release a track that is very infectious and will be posted up in internet newsgroups and listened to in college dorm rooms across the country by giggling kids. The other portion of fans is a more loyal and hardcore group that actually listens to this music for fun. As always, this subgenre of fans will be looked at as odd fringe characters. But thus is the curse of the subgenre.