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Gabber Eleganza & Ewen Spencer present 'Hardcore Soul book'

A photographic journey through the Gabber subculture

Gabber Eleganza & Ewen Spencer present 'Hardcore Soul book' A photographic journey through the Gabber subculture

Within the realm of truly hardcore ravers, you’ll be pushed to find a better encapsulator than the gabber scene. In case you haven’t had the pleasure of this barrage of sound reaching your eardrums, gabber music is a form of hardcore techno that percolated through the dutch rave scene in the late ’80s. Where specifically Rotterdam evolved the sound into its true form. With a forceful tempo usually creeping up towards 200bpm, the kick drum on each 4/4 note turns into a jacking force, not for the faint of heart. From the start, it was very much a rebellious act against the Amsterdam house scene that focused more on looking right and acting cool. The distorted kicks and breakneck tempos of gabber attracted a certain type of raver. If you’re really gonna get into it properly, you need to leave all forms of self-obsession at the door and embrace the sweaty mess of total surrender that will become your fate on the dance floor. Gabber parties became a subculture with a sound and look of its own.

In 2011 Gabber Eleganza launched a Tumblr to start documenting the scene. The idea was to create an infinite scroll of images from one particular scene, each connected to the other, but without a specific editorial line. The more the research grew, the more the idea arose, that there was indeed an underlying coherence within this collection of visual artifacts – a kind of internal logic. A wonder grew, if this project could, in some way, build a bridge between the subcultures of Rave and Hardcore, and the contemporary culture of music and art. Attempting to catalog idiosyncratic styles, from which something new could be born. During the research coming across the work of Ewen Spencer, a photographer, whose pictures possess a level of intimacy and energy that truly captures life within these subcultures and indeed youth itself. They met for the first time in London in 2017 and spent the night at a Dalston pub talking about Northern Soul and Hardcore-Gabber, both fascinated by their different backgrounds. 

The idea to create something together came very naturally, emerging out of these two seemingly dissimilar scenes. This is how the book Hardcore Soul was born – a publication that explores the analogies between two worlds, appearing as they do entirely at odds with one another, yet through a shared devotion, rhythmic frenzy and euphoria, both offering on-lookers a key to understanding them. At a moment suspended in time, dance, the hammering 4/4 beat as well as a natural and chemical euphoria, culminating in the eruption of one’s soul, offering a way, in which to escape one’s reality. Captured in a completely authentic way within the pages of their new book. The publication, by Ewen Spencer and Gabber Eleganza with the contribution by the Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey, creates a seamless flow between what was the Happy Hardcore Rave scene and that of the British Northern Soul weekenders.

The book will be released on May 16th with a green pvc cover including:

Book 1 – Photo by Ewen Spencer, 80 pages.

Book 2 – Mark Leckey and Ewen Spencer in conversation, 16 pages.

Two cardboards + Gabber Eleganza’s Hardcore Soul Mixtape

Edition of 500


Hardcore Soul Mixtape