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The term emerged in 1994 when Germany born DJ Chris Liebing and The Advent (U.K) described a certain type of techno while searching for records at the now closed "Boy Records" store. The next time he visited the shop, the owner had a selection of harder techno records filed under Schranz. "For me personally, since that day in 1994, Schranz is a description for various dark and distorted sounds in techno", Liebing said in 2002.
To this day, speculation remains about the meaning of the word Schranz within the techno scene. Many believe it to simply imitate the sound of a crunchy low fidelity (lo-fi) percussion loop. Meaningful speculations indicate that it was meant as a contraction of the two German nouns Schrei (scream) and Tanz (dance), i.e., Schr-anz.
The original Schranz sound is a harder, uptempo (about 150 BPM) techno style inspired by Detroit techno with reduced melodic elements. Schranz often features just single synth stabs or atmospheric sweeps with a major emphasis on percussion. A trademark of this style are heavily compressed and filtered loops, combined with Roland TR-909 kick drums, snares, high hats, claps and ride with various forms of distortion applied. A prime example of this are Chris Liebing's records The Real Schranz 1–3, the Stigmata series by André Walter, and many of the Schranz 1.0–22.0 series compilations.
Starting as a hardtechno subgenre in 1998, Schranz evolved into a blend of hardtechno and minimal techno subgenres by 2002. In its start (1999–2001), the genre was prominently represented by, e.g., Guy "The Geezer" Mcaffer, The Advent and Carl Cox. When it was popularized, modern Schranz artists such as Chris Liebing and Adam Beyer became some of its most well known producers, among others such as O.B.I, Lars Klein, Ade Fenton, Robert Natus, Boris S., Sven Wittekind and others. The music is set at a tempo which usually is between about 150 and 170 BPM, but has been known to go lower and even higher. In 2012 Schranz has a very dedicated, but limited fan base, as other genres have taken ahead of the sound of schranz, such as the hardtechno and hardstyle genres. This added with the rise of dubstep and electro-house, schranz is not only difficult and rare to find, it is losing wide popularity.
Places schranz can still be found in 2012 are: Germany, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain and Bulgaria but in its prime was found all over globe, not limited to, but including, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, USA, among many others.
Events that play this type of music are occasionally niche club nights, but is more commonly played at freeparties and "teks".