Going out for a big night on the town, eh? Anticipating entering about ten different bars with eye-catching neon lights and the inimitable quivering of the floor as a hardcore kick jostles the speakers? Planning on consuming excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages before making an unfortunate faceplant on the sidewalk while onlookers are shocked by the liberal print on your underwear? If you're going to commit yourself to a frivolous evening of unpredictable entertainment, you'll need a suitable soundtrack. Three gentlemen from the heart of Hamburg seem to believe they have the solution for you, which is why they ever-so-cleverly titled their 2012 album, "Music For A Big Night Out".
Scooter's newest album (as of this writing) starts in full form beneath the illumination of a Full Moon, which starts out in eerie symphonic fashion before rolling straight into a powerful (yet sadly brief) electro-trance dish that certainly would start my evening right. This intro leads directly into the first full-on song of the album, I'm A Raver, Baby, a thumpin' take on "Loser" by Beck. While I enjoy the instrumental parts (and even the weird rap lyrics), the sluggish chorus, as recited by legendary German shoutsperson and Scooter frontman H.P. Baxxter, really acts as a push factor. Scooter is really known for powerful tunes, and this one isn't it. Even the song's main melody isn't memorable. The use of acid synths is notable, though. Luckily, redemption is easily found in Army Of Hardcore, which draws much inspiration from the song of the same name by Neophyte. Not entirely hardcore, this one's a catchy pseudo-hardstyle hitter that turned into the second single from the album. The instrumental chorus is downright wicked as well! Army Of Hardcore is reminiscent of their older hard dance hits, which may be a good thing, considering their odd strays from their roots as of late.
Then there's 4 A.M., Scooter's externally-influenced foray into progressive house music. Drawing from both Beverly Craven's "Promise Me" and "Million Voices" by Otto Knows, this single certainly provided divided opinions. Some liked its more modern and trendy style, while others simply said, "This isn't Scooter." And the latter may be more correct: this doesn't sound like anything Scooter has ever done. While the blend of house beats and pure female vocals (refraining from high-pitched vocals, as was the norm in old times) delivers a smooth tune, it isn't what would normally come from them, leading to thoughts that they were pressured by outside forces to make a song like this. Plus, H.P.'s use of the term "swag" just doesn't sound right coming from a guy in his mid-40s. In a similar vein, No Way To Hide reminds me of more recent house trends: a blend of female vocals (this time from "Stand Back" by Stevie Nicks), poppy piano-esque synths, and house beats. H.P. seems to have just been planted in this song simply for the sake of it.
Going back to their roots, Scooter delivers a strange cover in the form of What Time Is Love?, an homage to their heroes, The KLF. With slightly more updated instruments (but still using obvious samples from the original), Scooter try their hand directly at the song from which they sample and copy from so frequently. It ends up being a weird concoction and one that sounds quickly pasted together. H.P.'s quick rapping is much appreciated here, as it sounds pretty cool over the melodies of What Time Is Love?. Scooter added their own additional touches to create something that, by the end, sounds almost like a different song altogether. An interesting take on a classic; not perfect, but not bad either. Overdose (Frazy), on the other hand, is an even more unusual beast. Using a likely-to-be-obscure "Frazy" by Synapsenkitzler as the melodic source and the vocals from the vocals from "I Wanna be a Hippie" by Technohead, this whole track sounds like a carnival ride gone haywire, moving swiftly from chiptune instrumentation to jumpstyle zaniness in one fell swoop. But although it's a very, VERY strange addition to the album, it definitely has its place. It's just too weird to avoid!
Mike Oldfield is the source of inspiration for the vocals from Talk About Your Life, a more straightforward hard dance track, complete with thumping beats, uplifting dance synths, and those chipmunkedly-high pitched vocals we know that EVERYBODY loves. Plus, here we get to listen to H.P.'s wild lyrics, such as "a man likes milk, now he owns a million cows" and "I can the bun and you can be the burger, girl." I think he was just hungry at the time. Equally funky is I Wish I Was, featuring a modified chorus that samples "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)" by Sandi Thom to now include references to raving and raver-approved music. H.P. has some strange robotic lyrics here as well, but it's the chorus that should take center stage, as it's probably the most uplifting part of this strange progressive-electro-house experiment. Energy floweth throughout this track, but it's really just a combination of three different songs in one. Worth a listen, but it's not the top track of the album.
I must admit, I was stunned by Black Betty. Obviously a take on the song popularized by Ram Jam in 1977, this one's a killer combo of house, electro, and dubstep, all blended together in an audio cauldron to create an absolute beast of a track! First, we get H.P. wailing the lyrics over some weird house synths and you think, "Meh, this isn't all that exciting." Then, suddenly, the high-pitched vocals emerge over some seriously sharp electro synths and you're smacked in both ears by raw power! A definite must-listen. It's followed by Too Much Silence, a trance tune with an ear-pleasing bassline that (eventually...) leads to some sweet female vocals singing about how silence can often be too much, obviously, before leading us into a nice instrumental section. This formula repeats, but I believe they stretched out the last part a bit too much. And, to conclude, we have Last Hippie Standing that employs the psy-trance genre, something I don't believe we've ever heard from Scooter before. Dark basslines and truly pumping kicks lay the ground for both Indian chants and a phantasmal melody that's simple yet it works. This one may not be for everyone, but I find it to be an attractive tune, if not repetitive. A haunting end to a very unusual album, indeed...
Will this satisfy those who want to go out and have seemingly intolerable levels of joy and mirth down the artificially-lit avenues of the downtown scene? I believe some of these songs could definitely help tear up a few rugs. Not every song is an absolute gem, but it's a safer route than the strange experiments of previous albums. Not everyone's into dubstep à la The Big Mash Up, for example, but I believe the songs found here are close enough to most dance smash hits that they can be enjoyed by the masses. This could very well be ideal music for a big night out.