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At 1000bpm, extratone is electronic music’s fastest genre

Step aside speedcore, there’s a new sound in town…

At 1000bpm, extratone is electronic music’s fastest genre
At 1000bpm, extratone is electronic music’s fastest genre

Clocking in at 1000bpm, extratone is electronic music’s fastest genre.

In a new, in-depth feature from Bandcamp Daily, writer and regular DJ Mag freelancer Dave Jenkins dives headfirst into the ferocious world of extratone, a style of electronic music said to be the world’s fastest music genre, with tracks regularly clocking in the 1,000bpm range and reaching levels of up to 10,000bpm.

While not an entirely fresh sound, extratone is widely new to most electronic music fans. Its history can be traced back to the days of hardcore and gabber in the ‘90s, with its biggest influence stemming from the speedcore subgenre. 

Beyond the extremely high bpm counts, extratone is characterized by its “tonal” sound. “When kick drums are structured at such fast tempos (usually as quarter notes or 16ths),” wrote Jenkins, “the pneumatic sledgehammer style of beats associated with most ultra-fast music genres no longer exist. Instead, it’s a buzzing textural, tonal trip. At its most uncompromised, extratone perplexes the senses (see the work of Gabberdoom). But there are many examples of more melodic elements within the genre (also see the work of The Quick Brown Fox). A long-standing tradition of any extreme form of music, the real essence of the style is found within the brutal balance of contrasts.”

Many in the extratone community credit Belgian artist DJ Einrich as the genre’s founder, with his work in the late ‘90s serving as the movement’s sonic blueprint.

“By combining two German words, extrahieren (to extract) and tone (note), he came up with extratone,” said leading extratone artist Ralph Brown of DJ Einrich in the feature. “A subgenre where bpm are so crammed that they almost appear like extra-dimensional. So Einrich turned his name into Einrich 3,600 bpm (the perfect number of bpm according to him) and started to release tracks via his own Immer Schneller Records.” 

“Extratone is basically a form of extreme sound art,” said Rick, a London-based artist and label owner of Slime City, who also goes by the artist aliases Zara Skumshot and Skat Injector. “It’s not about pounding kicks, but kicks so fast they have morphed into a tonal beast. They’ve mutated into a whole different animal. A natural process of evolution.” 

Like most niche genres, extratone lays claim to a small yet dedicated following, with many members from its community taking a DIY approach when experimenting with the sound and creating new styles like mash-up extratone, minimal extratone, noise extratone and more, according to the piece.

Learn more about extratone via the Introduction to Extratone feature on Bandcamp Daily, and listen to some choice extratone tracks below.

For more high-bpm goodies, read our feature on the return of jungle and read our investigation into the UK’s jump-up drum & bass revival.

Screenshot taken from ‘LEGS - NET 110: Intact Hypervessel’ album cover from Gridbug/Legs Akimbo Records via Bandcamp.

John Ochoa is the editor-at-large of DJ Mag North America. You can find him living his best life on Twitter.

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