The Dutch have produced many good things. Some of the greatest football ever; windmills; Anne Frank; and most importantly, Martin Jol. However, it would be fair to say that there's not a massive export of music from the low countries in general, including ze Nederlands. Saying this, as always, cop a look under the radar and there's plenty going on.
It seems that what the Dutch do best is hardcore. Now, I know what direction your mind has gone, but I don't mean that. As a reaction to the bloated techno/rave scene of the early nineties, Dutch DJs came up with gabber, a fairly frightening sounding scene that stripped all extraneous sound from the day's techno and sped it up to a bare minimum of 160bpm. I say bare minimum, at times tracks went up to about 260, at which point bass-drum rolls become pretty much a melodic instrument in themselves. To quote the ever-useful Wikipedia, "taking a normal synthesized bassdrum and overdriving it heavily. The approximately sinusoidal sample starts to clip into a squarewave with a falling pitch. This results in a number of effects: the frequency spectrum spreads out, thus achieving a louder, more aggressive sound. It also changes the amplitude envelope of the sound by increasing the sustain. Due to the distortion, the drum also develops a melodic tone. It is not uncommon for the bassdrum pattern to change pitch throughout the song to follow the bassline."
I hope you caught all that.
Having listened to a bit of gabber, I can quite happily concur with what I imagined my reaction to be: I fear it. But, for the greater good and so on, I boldly go on...
Of course, if I was take this any further I would have to start donning gabber's traditional tracksuits and slaphead attire, and probably develop some neo-Nazi tendencies. I might even develop a newfound interest in speed or ecstasy, or maybe some ketamine. Of course, these traits are all down-played by the major players in the scene today, as you would expect, but it's not hard to see why this sort of thing develops extra-musical tendencies. Unlike yesterday's krautrock extravaganza, this is not music for art's sake - despite the very inventive approach taken by many DJs - it's music for the sake of partying, and partying hard. And as with many scenes with a shaved-head image, the neo-Nazi element cannot go unmentioned - a sound gaining allegiance from the neo-fascist parts of Germany and the American Mid-West (see maybe American History X for reference?) has to be taken carefully.
However, it does seem that, for the most part, this is spoken out against, and to be fair, you get retards in any scene. It would probably do us as well to concentrate solely on the still more frightening bit: the music itself.
Actually, I say all this, but a lot of it all sounds fairly dated now. With the massively inventive electronica thats available these days, gabber sounds a bit primitive, a bit basic. Maybe it makes more sense in context, but it's not something I'd choose to listen to personally. Nor would I pursue happy hardcore and the myriad other spinoffs of the sound that have perhaps translated a little more internationally.
The recognised first gabber track is actually German: Mescalinum United (aka producer Marc Acardipane) produced We Have Arrived in 1990, whereas the first Dutch track to hit the headlines was the charmingly-named Rotterdam Termination Source's Poing, in 1992. By the mid-90's, when the rest of the world was being wooed by Friends, or watching Independence Day, shaven-headed Dutchmen and women would be found at the Midtown record store in Rotterdam in their bomber jackets and Nikes, perpetuating this most Dutch of scenes.
Mescalinum United - We Have Arrived
Any scene with a rabidly hardcore fanbase has a tendency to fragment and splinter, and the difference between old-school and new-school gabber (apparently there's about 10bpm in it) became apparent. I can't tell the difference with my limited experience though, sadly, so I'll just post a couple of examples here. To be honest, this could be any variety from any country, but I think it's OK. The Rotterdam Terror Corps one is the more frightening - shouty without veering into bouncy Happy Hardcore that affects some, for example the Paul Elstak/Panic version of Cold As Ice.
Rotterdam Terror Corps + Neophyte - Army Of Hardcore
DJ Paul Elstak ft. Firestone - Get Off My Back
RTC, Neophyte + DJ Paul - Rotterdam Hooligan
DJ Paul Elstak + Panic - Cold As Ice
I'm also going to post a little more palatable Dutch music... The first of these was recommended by Marcelle van Hoof, of the Dutch internet radio show Another Nice Mess. Zea are an electro act from Holland, and are more kooky and glitchy than the rather predictable gabber. There's a good number of great tracks available from their website, some of which you can download here (I also recommend We Buried Indie Rock Years Ago and I Am Searching For An MP3). I really like these, they're good fun, and interesting to listen to - parental advisory on one or two though...
Zea - I Destroyed The Kids' Teeth
Zea - Eighties Rockstar Weekend
Zea - Clocks (Coldplay cover)
Try also Charly & Gallus and Surface Noise (songs on MySpace) for some good Hollandaise.
Buy Dutch music/gabber here
Buy Rotterdam Terror Corps/Neophyte/DJ Paul Elstak/Zea
Tags: Holland; Netherlands; World Cup; gabber
CIA Factbook: Holland
PS: see Benn Loxo du taccu's post on Ghanaian hiplife.
PPS: as usual, I go to post on a country, and someone better has got there first...