Threads of hardcore music abound in contemporary club forms, ranging from the disembodied hardstyle kicks found throughout the work of artists like Kablam and coucou chloe to more traditional (in a relative sense) stabs at hardcore genres like hardstyle and doomcore by Kilbourne and Nkisi respectively. It could be argued that all fast club musics fit under a hardcore rubric, but there’s no doubt that more common signifiers of hardcore — in both the term’s dance/electronic and rock/punk/noise contexts — abound. We initially caught onto Estoc’s work through a tip from Alex Compton and after diving into a few swirling blends (Arca, Brandy and Monica, Rabit and The Knife), we were floored by collaborations with Kilbourne and Swan Meat respectively. Residing in Olympia, Washington at the southern tip of Puget Sound, a town known for its leftist student body and ant-fascist activism, Estoc’s music takes in contemporary club music, hardcore forms and a range of vocal inspirations and spits out something powerful and angry, a scalding final product that is at once approachable and deeply desensitized. Gabber, the hyper-aggressive, Rotterdam-born genre, finds a particularly large space in Estoc’s aesthetic and the explanation of her name functions dually as a potential explanation for what has drawn so many to the genre in recent years: “This idea of creating a tool to defeat those with more power and protection than you is really appealing to me as it fits into the narrative of anti-fascist and anti-imperialist ideology, being able to look at what seem like insurmountable odds and coming out ahead with the right tools.”
That spirit abounds in Estoc’s original music, much of which can be found on her Soundcloud page. There are the aforementioned blends and collaborations, as well as a series of harrowing pieces under the d e s o l a t i o n moniker that are more space/texture-oriented than Estoc’s other work, but that she doesn’t necessarily see as being separate from the Estoc project. Her mixes often feature the work of artists like Pharmakon and The Body, acts that are seemingly finding more relevance in electronic music circles as scenes trend darker and denser, while contemporary hardcore producers like Sei2ure and Mad Dog often punctuate especially intense passages. In Estoc’s own words, her Astral Plane mix is a “best attempt at creating a narrative around what I experience in terms of mental illness,” describing the gabber passages as emulating “moments of sheer panic.” But there are also glimpses of richly hued brilliance, fascinating leaps from four-on-the-floor insanity to almost-soothing breakbeats and more than enough blends and edits of contemporary favorites to draw in even the most timid listener. The mix’s conceptual value is imbued from its opening passage, but its individual components, many created specifically for the occasion, are all worth revisiting and meditating on. Estoc’s music is rife with major themes — subversion of power structures and personal mental health in particular — but it’s worth noting that it also exists on a purely visceral/corporeal plane. And whichever way you choose to approach her Astral Plane mix, that visceral spirit will undoubtedly hit you. Click below for our full chat with Estoc and a must-read track list.