Schranz is a subgenre of Techno music that emerged in Germany during the late 1990s and early 2000s. It stands out for its hard, repetitive, and fast sound, often between 140 and 160 BPM.
Chris Liebing, a DJ based in Frankfurt, coined the word “schranz” in 1994 while he was shopping for records at the “Boy Records” store, which has since closed. Liebing was trying to describe a specific style of techno at the time. The next time he went to the store, the owner had a number of harder techno recordings organized under the name “schranz”.
Liebing stated in 2002: “for me personally since that day in 1994, Schranz is a description for many dark and distorted sounds in techno”. Later on, the term became popular and began appearing as a party motto on several flyers of the Frankfurt techno club, “Omen”. By 1999, Schranz events happened weekly, every Friday, in Frankfurt’s U60311, which enormously promoted the spread of the genre.
Today, the term Schranz doesn’t exist only in its country of origin but describes the sound of hard German techno around the world. From a buzzword that describes monotonous and percussion-loaded techno of several sorts, Schranz has become a genre in its own right.
In the early 2000s, Liebing, together with his colleague André Walter, would work on a variety of projects to further refine the sound of the style. Producers and DJs with a more focused approach began to broaden the scope of the genre, as documented in a series of DJ mixes. The most notable of these are “Schranz Total” and “Schranzwerk”, both of which count several volumes since their original release.
This style of music, which often includes dark sounds, is mostly based on drum loops, rattles, or factory noises, accompanied by hard, driving basses or even continuous basslines. Structures are usually straightforward and minimalistic with quieter breakdown sections and samples of melodies and voice clips from various origins. Since the contrast in this music is very subtle, Schranz is often perceived as monotonous. That’s why DJ’s use Schranz records in clubs to boost the mood and the speed of the individual set. Regardless, the rapid spread of the genre in the club scene meant that it got a lot of influence from other genres in electronic music.