♫♪  Airmax 97 - “Swelter”

Remember Gabber? In the early 90s, a number of Dutch producers largely based in Rotterdam and Amsterdam saw something in the hardstyle sounds of Detroit, setting out to make their own tracks that, as time went on, got pretty weird. Who knows what the appeal was, but at some point, with massive parties like Thunderdrome packing in around 40,000 ravers each night, it’s safe to say the whole thing became a pretty massive phenomenon. Dutch producers like Serge Verschuur and Paul Elstak became regional superstars and a certain style emerged, one that finally made Gabber more than just a genre, but a way of life. The Gabber uniform often included garish tracksuits, asymmetrical haircuts and one insanely iconic shoe: the infamous Nike Airmax.

It’s hard to find a single sneaker more integral to rave culture at large, but the Airmax, with that classic “visible air” sole, kept generations of kids on their feet for days at a time, bouncing and swinging to the music with every entropic track. Sure, it could’ve been the drugs, but something about the Airmax ‘97 keeps people coming back. Revered in sneakerhead circles for its streamlined sleekness, one that “takes inspiration from high-speed Japanese bullet trains,” the shoe represented a certain strand of 90s futurism, one caught between a celebration of the atemporal day-glo triumphs of a Gabber’s now-waning appeal and impending thoughts of a changing millennium.

Airmax ‘97, the moniker of an enigmatic Melbourne-based producer known only as Oliver, has channelled these strange, ahistorical contradictions into a number of tracks throughout the last few years with London’s Trax Couture and Liminal Sounds. Recently, the producer dropped the video for “Swelter” from his latest HPE EP (now with a fresh label of his own, Decisions) that, quite literally, destroys itself. A symbolic cut from the fallen futures of raver’s past, the video shows a closeup of the sneakers, with the wearer violently slicing the iconic design in attempted escape. In line with much of the frenzied power of neofuturist stuff like Lotic, Ange-Ho, and especially M.E.S.H., the track is unbearably tense, growing and growling with a soupy, guttural sheen. Check it out below and be sure to cop the new EP.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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