Upon listening to Attack I was taken back five years or so to my sophomore year of college, when one of my friends played a Keoki mix CD for me (“Speed Racer” is the common, or at least most obvious thread here). Ah, sweet nostalgia, right? Well no, not exactly. I didn’t buy into the hard house sound the first time around, and it’s not any more interesting to me five years later. Harsh, minimal drum loops and trying-to-be-naughty vocal samples (“go down me”, “get that butta”, yada yada) just don’t do it for me. In fact, my first exposure to dance music was hard house, and it caused me to turn away from electronica for several years. And frankly, with all the sophistication and variety that electronic music has acquired, the sound is even less appealing to me now.
Now allow me to climb down from the pulpit and actually talk about the CD. Attack was mixed by Double Impact (Louie Loop and Greg the Groove) as a tribute to Andy Adams (aka DJ Attack), and as a way to raise money for his family in wake of his passing. Adams was, for all of you studying for your Dance Music 101 finals, a pioneer of the hard house sound and the founder of Strictly Hype Recordings. As a tribute, it’s a pretty effective CD, proficiently mixing all of the tracks and remixes that Adams produced over the years. There are some touching testimonials as well from DJs who Adams took under his wing and nurtured. It’s all nicely done, with a fun, bouncy vibe coming from tunes that are all catchy, hard-hitting and rather minimal in their production value. Think early to mid-‘90s techno dance party, and you’ll have a good idea of what you’re getting into.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about here beyond the fact that Attack is a kind-hearted and well-done tribute. The songs are more notable for the naughty vocals, which at this point have almost a retro-novelty value, than for the music itself. There’s a whole lot of “shake your butt” type stuff going on here. All of this is fine, but once you get past the almost-cheesy charm of it, there isn’t a whole lot of substance. Take what is perhaps the best-known track, “Speed Racer”, for example. Sure, the whole bit with Speed and Trixie doin’ the nasty is pretty funny (“Here comes Speed Racer” takes on a meaning I never would have fathomed as a tyke), but the music really has no impact of any kind. And that, I suppose, is the big problem I have with Adams’ work. It relies a little too much on gimmicks, and not enough on quality music.
And that leads back to my initial point, which is, I just don’t dig the hard house thing. I wasn’t into it when it was a new sound, and now it just seems dated. For other non-converts, I suspect this is not the album to get you into the style. For true believers (at least those who haven’t stopped reading in disgust because I’m dissing their beloved style, that is), here’s a chance to help the family of a pioneer of the hard house sound. And hey, if you’re bound and determined to give hard house a shot, you might was well contribute to a good cause while you’re at it.