A new photo book from Alberto Guerrini (AKA Gabber Eleganza) and photographer Ewan Spencer connects two parallel worlds: Northern Soul and hardcore gabber. Here's a peek at what's inside.
I began to wonder if this project could, in some way, build a bridge between the subcultures of rave and hardcore, and the contemporary culture of music and art, which, up to that point, had despised the aforementioned movements. With a newfound sense of conviction I began a period of extensive research, selecting unpublished visual material relating to various different subcultures. My approach was not to focus simply on aesthetics, but on socio-anthropology. It was no longer about bringing the culture of a bygone era back to life, or re-appropriating it nostalgically, instead it was a way to catalogue idiosyncratic styles, from which something new could be born.
It was during this research that I came across the work of Ewen Spencer, a photographer whose pictures possess a level of intimacy and energy that truly captures life within these subcultures and indeed youth itself—an artistic vision that I immediately felt was reflected in my own work. His photos are honest and respectful, but at the same time elusive, as if fluctuating in limbo between a nostalgia for adolescence and the future. A place where potential and kinetic energy are found in perfect equilibrium, Ewen's photography captures that impalpable moment in which something is about to happen.
We met for the first time in London in 2017 and spent the night at a Dalston pub talking about Northern Soul and hardcore gabber, both fascinated by our different backgrounds. Having seen his series on Northern Soul weekenders and hardcore raves, shot over period of several years, the idea to create something together came very naturally, emerging out of these two seemingly dissimilar scenes.
This is how Hardcore Soul was born—a publication that explores the analogies between two worlds, appearing as they do entirely at odds with one another, yet through a shared devotion, rhythmic frenzy and euphoria, both offering onlookers a key to understanding them. Choosing to publish the images in a non-chronological order is an attempt to create the impression that everything is happening in the same moment, in the same space, fixing them at an indefinite place in time. At this moment suspended in time, dance, the hammering 4/4 beat as well as a natural and chemical euphoria, culminate in the eruption of one's soul, offering a way in which to escape one's reality."
- Alberto Guerrini / Gabber Eleganza
Hardcore Soul will be released on May 19th, 2019, featuring a collection of Ewen Spencer's photographs and a conversation between Spencer and the Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey.