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Acidee!
May 10, 2011 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Charanjit Singh on how he invented acid house ... by mistake. The Guardian interviews an unlikely pioneer of Acid House. With the aid of a TR-303 and a TR-808 this track was born somewhat earlier than traditionally appreciated for the genesis of the genre. "So far ahead, in fact, that it appears to pre-date the first Acid House records to come out of Chicago by about five years." Its enough to make you smile.
posted by SueDenim (95 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
And it's more interesting than 90% of acid house. (Insert rant about the increasingly hidebound orthodoxy of the genre over the years - or of many other variations of house, for that matter. Yawn.)
posted by Philofacts at 9:47 AM on May 10, 2011


.... I am still frustrated that Singh seems unable to give more specific detail on when and where he recorded the album. He is also hazy on the details of exactly where he bought the 808 and 303 ...

Hmmm, I wonder why that might be?
posted by exogenous at 9:52 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


exogenous: "Hmmm, I wonder why that might be?"

The 808 and 303 are actually VST plugins, hosted in FL Studio on a Windows PC in the year 2011?
posted by dunkadunc at 9:57 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat is pretty great.
posted by box at 9:59 AM on May 10, 2011


Yeah, I don't care if it's fake or not, it's good and original, which really does count for something.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:01 AM on May 10, 2011


So we're in agreement that he's not really Aphex Twin after all?
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:03 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, Clutchy Hopkins isn't DJ Shadow and Eleh isn't Keith Fullerton Whitman.
posted by box at 10:05 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


exogenous: I am still frustrated that Singh seems unable to give more specific detail on when and where he recorded the album. He is also hazy on the details of exactly where he bought the 808 and 303

Memories from almost 30 years ago are hazy? See this recent AskMe.

Or he could be making it up.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:05 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The 808 and 303 are actually VST plugins, hosted in FL Studio on a Windows PC in the year 2011?

Or maybe they're rocking this bad boy...
posted by Trurl at 10:06 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


dunkadunk: Yeah, I don't care if it's fake or not, it's good and original, which really does count for something.

Are there really people suggesting that the record's age is a lie? That seems ridiculous on its face.
posted by Kattullus at 10:10 AM on May 10, 2011


My brain won't let me read TR-808 as anything other than TRS-80.

Also, this track rules. I can't imagine how much this would have blown my mind in 1982.
posted by DU at 10:11 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really see the connection. The Raga track definitely sounds ahead of its time (mostly by virtue of the great production quality), but I don't see it being "Acid House", although I'll admit some ignorance of the genre (I love electronic music but most dance music is dreadfully formulaic to me). I thought Acid's defining feature was abuse of the cutoff/resonance filters on the 303, which Raga doesn't really do.

So what makes the track proto-"acid house"? The 808? It sounds like he's just imitating a disco beat. I suppose there is a bit of acid in the higher-pitched, rhythmic background harmonies. But calling it acid house because he's using an 808 and a 303 seems to me an awful lot like calling something rock-and-roll because it's using a drumkit and guitars.

(The track does rule. I'll take this over Acid Trax any day.)
posted by neckro23 at 10:13 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


8 video playlist and the first track is already even better than the one linked in this post. Holy crap.
posted by DU at 10:14 AM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Richard James is the 2nd comment, and he insists that he's got nothing to do with this. Which is funny in its own way - what's Aphex Twin doing commenting on an article in the Guardian? But then again, how often to articles about Acid House appear in any major paper?
posted by 1adam12 at 10:19 AM on May 10, 2011


Vinyl, mp3 available now, CD is out soon, they say.
posted by motty at 10:29 AM on May 10, 2011


I have to go to the bathroom but I don't want my ears to not have this sound inside of them while I do so.
posted by DU at 10:31 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


My brain won't let me read TR-808 as anything other than TRS-80

That's because I invented Acid House on my TRS-80 five years before Charanjit Singh! As proof, I offer this cassette tape program synchronizing swirling colors and random tone generation, and also why are the walls bleeding?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:33 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once put a cassette tape containing my copy of the TRS-80 classic "Dungeons of Daggorath" into a boom box when my friends were over. Years later I discovered that I had invented acid-grime-bender-squeal and was famous in certain circles - you probably haven't heard of me though, I'm pretty underground.
posted by freebird at 10:42 AM on May 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Are there really people suggesting that the record's age is a lie? That seems ridiculous on its face.

It's a 're-release'. AFAIK, no one has the original record.
posted by empath at 10:43 AM on May 10, 2011


I sincerely doubt this is a lie. Nobody in their right mind would claim to have invented acid house by accident unless they had invented acid house by accident.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Luckily for you, I have never claimed to be in my right mind.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:47 AM on May 10, 2011


I sincerely doubt this is a lie. Nobody in their right mind would claim to have invented acid house by accident unless they had invented acid house by accident.

Over the hill musician decides to try hand at 'dance music', but is a terrible record producer, and produces something that sounds like it's 30 years old... Savvy label head gets idea to turn lead into gold.
posted by empath at 10:49 AM on May 10, 2011


Ten Ragas is my jam!
posted by swift at 10:50 AM on May 10, 2011


Savvy label head gets idea to turn lead into gold.

If it's a marketing gimmick, more power to them. It's tried and true. One of the masterpieces of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar, is a fraud. We could be worshiping this album in 600 years.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:53 AM on May 10, 2011


Discogs has photos of the original release
posted by pixie at 10:57 AM on May 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fake music is still music. Fake eternal truths are not still eternal truths.
posted by DU at 10:57 AM on May 10, 2011


So what makes the track proto-"acid house"?

So much of what defines any particular genre in electronic music (and rock, and blues, and pop, etc) is timbre, and both Ten Ragas and acid house occupy a very similar niche of timbre. The harmonization is much more complex in Ten Ragas, but the sound of it is close enough that if you were running a record shop and didn't want to put this in the lazy catch-all 'World Music' category, you'd be best served by putting it in Acid House.
posted by echo target at 10:57 AM on May 10, 2011


I'm a big electronic music fan, and this album is cute and all, but…

It didn't take a genius or a prophet to make this record. Roland was one of the big electronic instrument companies in 1982, and most of their gear was designed to work together. (This was pre-MIDI, so if you wanted your drum machine and your sequencer to sync up, you pretty much had to buy them from the same manufacturer.)

Combining an 808 with a 303 wasn't an inspired musical decision—not when this guy did it, and not when later musicians did it. It was just an inevitable consequence of the proprietary proto-MIDI systems of the era—there were a limited number of machines that were compatible with any given system.

(Anyway, the 808 is more associated with electro and old-school hip-hop. The TR-909 is the drum machine that laid the foundation of acid house.)

Singh's music doesn't feature the extreme resonance settings and real-time tweaking that define the 303's role in acid house. Sure, Singh chose a 4/4 beat at approximately the same tempo as house music—but that was already well established in the disco music of the time.

It'd be difficult to connect an 808 and a 303 and not have them sound like this. Yes, it takes skill to make acid house well—but the basic sound is determined very much by the hardware.

Coming up with the basic sound—a Roland drum machine, synced up with a Roland TB-303, at a moderate 4/4 tempo—is so easy that it was probably accidental. Developing those raw elements into the musical vocabulary that defines acid house is another thing entirely.
posted by ixohoxi at 10:58 AM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Discogs has photos of the original release

That settles it for me. It didn't sound impossible to me that it came out when they said it did. Juan Atkins, etc, were already making techno and electro in 1983. And if you have an 808 or a 303, this stuff almost makes itself, just randomly pushing buttons.
posted by empath at 11:00 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought Delia Derbyshire invented this in 1967.
posted by jackflaps at 11:00 AM on May 10, 2011


or what ixohoxi said.
posted by empath at 11:01 AM on May 10, 2011


And Ron Hardy placed Acid Tracks at the Music Box, it didn't exist, I don't care who made similar records. Off the dance floor, it's meaningless.
posted by empath at 11:06 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


(until Ron Hardy)
posted by empath at 11:06 AM on May 10, 2011


people who can make music, make music. people who can't invent genres for it.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:10 AM on May 10, 2011


Maybe it's silly to argue about whether or not this is 'really' acid house or not. Endless sub-genre classification can be a fun thing to argue about on a Friday night, but it doesn't really matter to the music at all. The important point is that if you like acid house, you might like this too.
posted by echo target at 11:10 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the real acid
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:12 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I invented breakcore by cranking and bpm and jamming the fill button on a casio keyboard in Sears in the 80s.

I'm a big electronic music fan, and this album is cute and all, but… It'd be difficult to connect an 808 and a 303 and not have them sound like this. Yes, it takes skill to make acid house well—but the basic sound is determined very much by the hardware.

no true scotsman *good* acid house?
posted by ennui.bz at 11:12 AM on May 10, 2011


I thought Acid's defining feature was abuse of the cutoff/resonance filters on the 303, which Raga doesn't really do.

Yep, I'd say that's an essential part of it.

The 303's step sequencer—specifically, the way it handles portamento and accents—also contributes mightily to the sound.

Unlike a conventional synth, which plays notes in response to control voltages from a keyboard or an external sequencer, the 303 knows ahead of time what the next note will be. So it can start bending the pitch of the first note before the second one starts to play.

It's a little thing, but it's a big part of the characteristic groove of acid house.

*good* acid house?

Hilarious! You don't understand or enjoy a particular art form, so you question the notion that any talent, taste, or discernment are involved in its production and consumption! I raise my glass in tribute to your culture and sophistication.
posted by ixohoxi at 11:18 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I invented breakcore by cranking and bpm and jamming the fill button on a casio keyboard in Sears in the 80s.

I know you're joking, but hardcore, jungle and D&B were invented by DJs playing slower records pitched up, well before people started actually making records at that speed.
posted by empath at 11:19 AM on May 10, 2011


You pronounced it wrong. It's: "ACEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED !"
posted by Webbster at 11:24 AM on May 10, 2011


Vinyl, mp3 available now, CD is out soon, they say.

Actually the CD came out last summer--I grabbed a copy then. It looks like Forced Exposure still has a few copies.
posted by hyperizer at 11:25 AM on May 10, 2011


Hilarious! You don't understand or enjoy a particular art form, so you question the notion that any talent, taste, or discernment are involved in its production and consumption! I raise my glass in tribute to your culture and sophistication.

the ghost of stockhausen is reborn as karmic retribution...

I know you're joking, but hardcore, jungle and D&B were invented by DJs playing slower records pitched up, well before people started actually making records at that speed.

...because they must have overheard my early sets in sears, waiting for my mom to be done bra shopping.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:25 AM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


An almost identical article from the guardian a year ago
posted by pixie at 11:28 AM on May 10, 2011


In favor of the authenticity - the record received a mention in Pitchfork in 2006, predating the recent rereleases.
posted by factory123 at 11:28 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's so funny to me how people break down electronic music into a billion sub-genres that all sound the same. It's like.. take THIS electronic drum beat and add one tiny little thing and suddenly it's a whole new movement. "Yeah, I took this electronic drum beat and twirled that one knob over there to change the overtone spectrum and now I call it Overtone Acid Trip House. Yeah, I invented that."
posted by ReeMonster at 11:32 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Manuel Gottsching's E2-E4 predates this in terms of recording, though not release.
posted by anazgnos at 11:35 AM on May 10, 2011


Hilarious! You don't understand or enjoy a particular art form, so you question the notion that any talent, taste, or discernment are involved in its production and consumption! I raise my glass in tribute to your culture and sophistication.
the ghost of stockhausen is reborn as karmic retribution...


You're not seriously linking to that bit of claptrap, are you? I love Stockhausen, but the guy had a brain like an electric drill, which is great for pushing limits and experimenting in a certain vein but tends to result in a real inability to earnestly apprehend a majority of the wide variety of artistic products. Just get a load of this bullshit:
I heard the piece Aphex Twin of Richard James carefully: I think it would be very helpful if he listens to my work Song Of The Youth, which is electronic music, and a young boy‘s voice singing with himself. Because he would then immediately stop with all these post-African repetitions, and he would look for changing tempi and rhythms, and he would not allow to repeat any rhythm if it were varied to some extent and if it did not have a direction in its sequence of variations.
Of course! No doubt Aphex Twin would drop all of that nasty, repetitive African affectation if he just took a few minutes to listen to real music!

You're really going to have to do better than deferring to someone as full of himself as Stockhausen if you really want to have this conversation.
posted by invitapriore at 11:40 AM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


>It's so funny to me how people break down electronic music into a billion sub-genres that all sound the same.

While I happen to agree with you, I don't think that's limited to just electronic music. Metal, for one, is notorious for this.
posted by xbonesgt at 11:41 AM on May 10, 2011


the ghost of stockhausen is reborn as karmic retribution...

I presume you're referring to Stockhausen's last two answers in the article? What exactly is your point?

Apparently, grumpy old men from the European art-music tradition don't care for the ridiculous noise the youngsters are making these days. Somehow, I'm not surprised. I'm glad for Stockhausen's contributions to the music I love, but—I mean, what do you expect me to say? "Oh, well Stockhausen disagrees, so I take it all back"?

If you don't care for acid house or electronic music, might I suggest that you find a thread to participate in that's not about acid house and electronic music?
posted by ixohoxi at 11:44 AM on May 10, 2011


After listening to this for Quite A While, it seems to be more Giorgo Moroder than anything else, with some mystic East riffs thrown in (which could be proto Goa trance maybe ...). The squelchy stuff is definitely acidic in flavour.
posted by carter at 11:52 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


what do you expect me to say? "Oh, well Stockhausen disagrees, so I take it all back"?
Not unless you had Stockhausen Syndrome.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:53 AM on May 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


With the aid of a TR-303 and a TR-808...

Not to get all pedantic, but there's a typo here. This (excellent) post is not about a TR-303, but a TB-303, which, as Wikipedia points out, stands for Transistorized Bass. There's no such thing as a TR-303. If there were, it would stand for Transistorized Rhythm, and would refer to a different synthesizer altogether--a drum machine rather than a bass synth.

I point all this bizness out because Roland's nomenclature has caused me loads of confusion in the past.

The personal relevance is that I have a TR-505 and an MC-303 [Micro Composer], drum machines that are cheap and not terribly soulful, whereas I lust continuously for a TB-303, a synth that is wonderfully expressive and woefully expensive.
posted by Zerowensboring at 12:00 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's so funny to me how people break down electronic music into a billion sub-genres that all sound the same. It's like.. take THIS electronic drum beat and add one tiny little thing and suddenly it's a whole new movement.

If you want to mix two records together, you generally want records that share a lot of traits in common. Yes, you can mix cross genre, but that's takes a lot more thought and preparation than just grabbing random 'progressive house' or 'dubstep' or 'liquid D&B' records out of your bag. It's driven by the marketing and the practical needs of DJs who need to constantly buy new records but can't conceivably listen to all of the thousands of new songs released every week.

It's not just laziness. I can mix my collection of 'progressive house' records, for example, in thousands of different combinations based on the mood on the dance floor or requests or any time, or any of thousand different reasons why I'd change up what I was planning on playing. If I want to play D&B, Hip-Hop, House, techno and dubstep together in the same set, I can do that, but I'm going to have to do a lot of preparation in advance, and I'm going to have specific transitions planned out. I might have one techno record that I can mix into a couple of dubstep records, and I may be able to adjust how I get to that techno record from my many other techno records, but I can't change those two songs if I plan to get from techno to dubstep without breaking the flow of the set.

Having lots of different genres just helps you shop for records more conveniently and helps you categorize your collection mentally (and physically) in convenient ways. Paradoxically, by narrowing your options to a subset of genres, you give yourself more freedom to improvise within that more limited framework.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on May 10, 2011 [14 favorites]


Hilarious! You don't understand or enjoy a particular art form, so you question the notion that any talent, taste, or discernment are involved in its production and consumption! I raise my glass in tribute to your culture and sophistication.

And I'll tip my 40 for you, oh misunderstood and opressed Acid House enthusiast! Surely, everybody must like every type of music, and anybody that thinks a genre is horrible is actively engaging in the putting down of all practitioners of said art! You are the modern Rosa Parks of Acid House.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:10 PM on May 10, 2011


Kattullus: “Are there really people suggesting that the record's age is a lie? That seems ridiculous on its face.”

Yeah, the whole "this ancient reissue presaged a whole genre of music!" thing has gotten to be a bit... gimmicky. Ponderously so, in fact.

See also: Black Devil Disco Club, and Bernard Fevre's continued insistence upon diluting his frankly skillful releases by playing these "ooh, MAYBE I made it in 1978! And MAYBE I made it five minutes ago in my basement!" games.

The fact is that record "collectors" in the electronic music scene always love a gimmick; and people who'd like to move a few more units are always happy to take advantage of this fact.

Personally, I feel like "Ten Ragas" is almost certainly genuine, just for the reasons ixohoxi lists: it sounds like, well, what happens when you connect an 808 and a 303 and fool around for a while programming in ragas. But while I was interested in the album, it's not as mind-blowing as the hype machine would have it. It's fun for a few spins, but it sure as hell isn't Newbuild.
posted by koeselitz at 12:12 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not unless you had Stockhausen Syndrome.

I hear that the Rhythm Method is a good antidote.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 PM on May 10, 2011


anybody that thinks a genre is horrible is actively engaging in the putting down of all practitioners of said art!

Maybe not, but anybody who drops into a thread just to say 'your favorite x sucks' is an asshole.
posted by empath at 12:23 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe not, but anybody who drops into a thread just to say 'your favorite x sucks' is an asshole.

Yeah, that was more my point.
posted by ixohoxi at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2011


That is not to say, though, that merely because I am an asshole that I am required to tell someone that their favorite x sucks, right?

Cos I have shit to do.
posted by everichon at 12:27 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being an asshole is a necessary but not sufficient condition, so you're fine.
posted by empath at 12:30 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


ReeMonster: “It's so funny to me how people break down electronic music into a billion sub-genres that all sound the same. It's like.. take THIS electronic drum beat and add one tiny little thing and suddenly it's a whole new movement.”

As a jazz bug, I can inform you that electronic music isn't alone in this. "Oh, this is hard bop, this over here is cool West coast post-bop, this is proto-fusion," etc. And to people who don't really care, they all sound the same.

And all kinds of music are the same – splintering into a thousand different genres, a thousand different tiny gradations and variations, each one opening up into more as you listen more. Metal; death metal; melodic death metal. As time goes on, there are more and more. Even within the works of a single band – I mean, I've met Grateful Dead fans who will discuss whether the version May 8th 1977 version of "New Minglewood Blues" was better than the one they played the night before, or the year before, or the decade after. And – more power to them! People are allowed to love music; and since people are thinking creatures, we tend to focus on it in this, to study it. It matters.

Steve Albini said an interesting thing about John Peel a while back: he said that, when John Peel found a type of music that he just didn't like at all, he regarded it as his fault, and assumed that there was something that he was missing, something that other people saw in it that he wasn't noticing. John Peel was uniquely capable of being open-minded about music precisely because he accepted the fact that people see something really valuable in the music they love, and, instead of assuming that that something was always obvious, he took it as a given that coming to understand other kinds of music takes care, it takes study, it takes being willing to listen.

Four years ago, if you'd told me that I'd end up loving electronic dance music, I'd have laughed in your face. But this stuff is powerful; it changed my life, and letting it soak into my mind has brought me great pleasure and fulfillment. It's a buoyant, lively realm, an exciting and interesting and vibrant thing that touches themes of social justice, of righteous rebellion, and of young freedom, all centered on dancefloors where people have fun.

It may not mean anything to you right now, but that only means that it's a whole world of new things open for you to discover. And if you look around and let down your defenses a little, you'll find there are myriad musical genres that are just as fresh for discovery. Some of them might even be types of music you previously found "boring" or "annoying."
posted by koeselitz at 12:35 PM on May 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


Sorry, my sarcasm was hooked up to an arpeggiator syncing at 180 BPM up there. I was only kidding!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:35 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


SYNTHESIZER PATEL!!!
posted by symbioid at 12:38 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wah-wah!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:40 PM on May 10, 2011



anybody that thinks a genre is horrible is actively engaging in the putting down of all practitioners of said art!

Maybe not, but anybody who drops into a thread just to say 'your favorite x sucks' is an asshole.


actually, i was trying to say that ixohoxi was making a 'no true scotsman' argument about 'acid house.' Distinguishing between barely pushing the presets and well, whatever true good acid house is. i have no problems with acid house or people who like acid house. enjoy what you enjoy.

however, the almost stockhausen level pedantry is kind of funny. the letter exchange with Stockhausen starts with a coupe of idm fanboys at the Wire thinking that what Stockhausen does sounds like Aphex Twin, and then Stockhausen reveals a level of pedantry that can hardly be imagined by the fanboys on the worlds drum&bass/breakcore/idm/acidhouse/house/jungle forums (plus racism.) the idea that his (Stockhausen's) music sounds anything like Richi Hawtins is so preposterous to him that... well, anyway.

carry on.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:41 PM on May 10, 2011


enjoy what you enjoy

THANK YOU!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:43 PM on May 10, 2011


Is the thread in danger of getting derailed? Anyway, I've been on a Bollywood kick lately (after being on an early acid house kick) and I love the disco raga sound, combined with the 303 squelchy bass lines. It's like my '80s dance music dream, made in heaven...

The interview was pretty interesting too, in that Mr. Singh had to have early acid house explained to him and he was so bemused by it all.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 12:44 PM on May 10, 2011


A goa trance mix from 1998 for comparison.
posted by empath at 12:55 PM on May 10, 2011


suburbanbeatnik: The interview was pretty interesting too, in that Mr. Singh had to have early acid house explained to him and he was so bemused by it all.

That's what made it seem like a stretch that the whole thing was a hoax. Why would someone try to dupe the news, only to be bored by their own con?
posted by filthy light thief at 1:01 PM on May 10, 2011


Points taken. Over-doing sub-genres certainly exists in all music, I know this well, but yeah, we're talking about electronic stuff here, and it always seemed more silly to me in this context than in others. Because I feel the differences between the genres are LESS apparent in certain electronic stuff than in other types of music.
posted by ReeMonster at 1:15 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


As many point out, swooshy bass lines with kick snares were popping up, sporadically, all through the 1980s, partly as a consequence of the way the 303 and 808 make it almost impossible to avoid making them. And electro was percolating along. But the subculture never reached critical mass because an essential ingredient was lacking. MDMA was around, but it was a minority drug - rare and non-standard. You could get it in the SF and NY gay clubs right through the 1980s, and some others, and among certain bands and followers it had some cachet. It took the FDA's scheduling regulation of it in 1985-05-31 (and a parallel WHO scheduling in 1985) to create an economic incentive for its mass production and distribution. The legal tussles with the FDA continued right into late 1987. After the regulation, it was just a matter of time until enough yoked-up clubbers experiencing that peculiar receptiveness to repetitive beats and swooshy sounds encountered enough acidey house sounds and said "Oh I like this". Within a short space of time, a feedback loop between producers, DJs and audience was generating entire new sathes of emusic genres, including Acid House.
posted by meehawl at 1:26 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess you'll just have to trust us, but when you listen to thousands and thousands of dance records, the differences become obvious. Though there's always tons of cross genre records that could be filed in multiple different places, the vast majority are usually pretty obvious where they sit.

Though not all sub genres are real genres. Some of them are fads, some of them are just Adjective + Genre combinations.

And even the broadest genres like Trance, House and Techno are fluid and it's hard to come up with a hard and fast set of rules that will reliably put any random set of songs into consistent categories. It depends on what attributes you're going to use to categorize them. If you're DJing, BPM and whether the beats are 4 to the floor or not is going to be really important in terms of how you categorize things -- in that kind of categorization, there's a vast, vast difference between Dubstep and Techno, but someone who is focused more on the way that synths or vocalists sound might have a harder time seeing them as different kinds of music.
posted by empath at 1:32 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Webbster: You pronounced it wrong. It's: "ACEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED !"

A schoolboy error & My bad#1

Zerowensboring: My bad# 2, you are technically correct, which is, as we all know, the best kind of correct!
posted by SueDenim at 2:18 PM on May 10, 2011


I just dropped by to say this rules.
posted by mhjb at 3:20 PM on May 10, 2011


One of the masterpieces of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar, is a fraud. We could be worshiping this album in 600 years.

What distinguishes fraudulent mysticism from the authentic variety?
posted by acb at 4:10 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


You folks arguing about the history of acid house like it has some specific, proper narrative are hysterical. Me, I'm just digging listening to some disco raga. The MP3 is for sale on Amazon, and here's a thoughtful year-old article about the album.
posted by Nelson at 4:13 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


ennui.bz:

actually, i was trying to say that ixohoxi was making a 'no true scotsman' argument about 'acid house.' Distinguishing between barely pushing the presets and well, whatever true good acid house is.

Ah. Then we appear to have misunderstood each other, and I apologize.

I couldn't make any sense of "no true scotsman *good* acid house?", so I thought you were saying "*good* acid house?"—as in "psha, like *that* exists".

Actually, though, I wasn't arguing that this isn't (or is) acid house. The answer to that question all depends on how you define "acid house", and that's just not a debate that interests me.

What I was saying is this: people (not here, but elsewhere) are acting like the guy must have had some kind of magic crystal ball that could see into the future. But whatever you call Singh's music, its existence in 1982 just doesn't startle or amaze me the way it does these people. Its resemblance to the electronic music coming out of Chicago several years later is incidental at best, if you know anything about the instruments that were used to make the records. 808 + 303 is always going to sound pretty similar to this, at least superficially.

There were a shit-ton of these e-music records back then, and it's inevitable that one of them would have stumbled across the 808 + 303 combination.

I anticipated the usual "see? the machines make the music for you! it's talentless crap!" from the peanut gallery, which is why I made the comment about skill—to point out that although the hardware does in large part define the sound (as it does in any genre), you still have to know what you're doing to create something interesting or exceptional with it.

This is already a total derail, though.

You folks arguing about the history of acid house like it has some specific, proper narrative

No one's doing that.
posted by ixohoxi at 4:50 PM on May 10, 2011


What distinguishes fraudulent mysticism from the authentic variety?

ACEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!
posted by Casimir at 5:32 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just had a chance to listen to these for the first time.

This one really is pure trance music, in the literal and in the genre sense.

Easily 10 years ahead of his time. Trance producers weren't making stuff like this complex until the 90s. It's fantastic.
posted by empath at 5:36 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's 3 "Goa Trance" songs that came out of the Indian trance scene a decade later -- all of these were played in Paul Oakenfold's legendary "Goa Mix" from 1994:

Man With No Name - Teleport

Scorpio Rising - Dubcatcher

Hallucinogen - LSD

(all those songs are from the early 90s). There's a lot of similarities.
posted by empath at 5:53 PM on May 10, 2011


Charanjit Singh on how he invented acid house ... by mistake.

By time travel, more like it. 'JCVD, clean up in aisle 1982.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:57 PM on May 10, 2011


>what do you expect me to say? "Oh, well Stockhausen disagrees, so I take it all back"?

Not unless you had Stockhausen Syndrome.


Don't you mean, Stockhausen Syndrome by proxy? A much more serious condition altogether.

Thank you, thank you--I'm here all night . . .
posted by flug at 8:58 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


i now present to you the inventors of the acid house bass line - pink floyd - in 1973

the inventor of goa trance? - steve hillage in 1977, although gong's a sprinkling of clouds is close (1974)
posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 PM on May 10, 2011


Those are progressive rock tracks, and he eventually became a progressive trance producer, but neither of those are very goa, to me.
posted by empath at 10:05 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


ixohoxi Singh's music doesn't feature the extreme resonance settings and real-time tweaking that define the 303's role in acid house.

Not as extreme as is common with acid house, but there is some real-time tweaking on a couple of the other tracks off the album on YouTube, even if the one embedded in the Guardian article does not.
posted by Dysk at 11:54 PM on May 10, 2011


I was impressed and surprised when I first heard this record, but when you start looking at dates of other records from around that time it makes more sense. And while it resembles acid house (as does almost any electronic music incorporating a TB-303), purists will deny it from being labeled acid proper for the same reason they deny the 303 driven 1983 italo-disco of Aexander Robotnick, which is the lack of cutoff/resonance filter sweeps. The glide notes are close but no cigar.

Also Juan Atkins was already well on the way toward galactic computer funk in 1981, and everyone knows Cat Stevens invented house in '77!
posted by p3t3 at 3:51 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Over-doing sub-genres certainly exists in all music, I know this well, but yeah, we're talking about electronic stuff here, and it always seemed more silly to me in this context than in others. Because I feel the differences between the genres are LESS apparent in certain electronic stuff than in other types of music.

Depends how trained your ear is to the difference. Metal has just as many sub-genres, if not more. Could you reliably tell the difference between technical death metal and deathgrind?

Just like metal though, the top level genres have very distinct differences in terms of timbre, structure, tempo, melody etc etc. In metal terms, you really should be able to hear the difference between death, black, grind, doom, and in dance music, house, techno, drum'n'bass, dubstep. If not, then that's definitely a failure to engage.

And then within those genres, if anything, dance music doesn't have enough sub-genres right now. For example, "Minimal" contains anything from trance-type tracks to stripped down glitchy house and classic percussion-lead techno. Dubstep contains a wealth of sound but I rarely hear anyone pull out distinct sub-genres like you used to find in drum'n'bass.

Meanwhile, it doesn't help that many adjectives used to describe electronic dance music are essentially so vague or extended as to be virtually meaningless. I defy anyone to concisely define what "deep" means in the context of "deep house", and "electro" is so abused these days as to mean anything from synthpop to electro house to booty bass. "Prog" is another problematic one.

As for Charanjit Singh's (admittedly pretty enjoyable) tracks having "invented acid house", it seems to be a common misconception that the acid sound was invented ex nihilo, simply by DJ Pierre experimenting with a 303+808, but the Chicago DJs have definite influences from tracks they were spinning earlier, e.g. Alexander Robotnick - Problems D'Amour from 1983 with a classic acid 303 bassline, or Klein and MBO - Dirty Talk from 1982, with a jacking type bass.
posted by iivix at 5:54 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


p3t3 is my new best friend, both for beating me to Robotnick, and for Was Dog a Doughnut which I edited out of my post at the last minute.
posted by iivix at 5:56 AM on May 11, 2011


For example, "Minimal" contains anything from trance-type tracks to stripped down glitchy house and classic percussion-lead techno. Dubstep contains a wealth of sound but I rarely hear anyone pull out distinct sub-genres like you used to find in drum'n'bass.

Meanwhile, it doesn't help that many adjectives used to describe electronic dance music are essentially so vague or extended as to be virtually meaningless. I defy anyone to concisely define what "deep" means in the context of "deep house", and "electro" is so abused these days as to mean anything from synthpop to electro house to booty bass. "Prog" is another problematic one.


I've been trying to figure out the right way to say this, but basically you depending on what attributes you focus on, songs will go in different genres or subgenres. There are 'minimal' djs who play minimal music that spans across a variety of genres like techno and house. There are also 'minimal' djs who think that 'minimal' is a specific subgenre of techno.

And then there are genres that have to do more with the scenes associated

Deep house records are pretty easy to pick out to me, but deep house is what deep house DJs play. I think it's more of a scene than a genre.

Electro was just a marketing buzzword-- it got applied to 'electroclash' in the early 2000s, which was like an 80s/new wave revival (fischerspooner, tiga), then it some how morphed into regular house with really thick noisy basslines.

'Progressive' has always been a troublesome one to me. It's not a genre, it's an adjective. I think progressive should only properly apply to extended house and trance records with complex melodies, but sometime in the early 2000s it got applied to the dark, stripped down tribal house sounds that Sasha and Digweed (who had made their names as 'progressive djs') were playing at Twilo. By the mid 2000s, I think the genre name was pretty much meaningless. I think beatport pretty much files anything that's basically house but with trance synths as 'progressive' now, which is probably as close to the original definition as you can get these days.
posted by empath at 7:23 AM on May 11, 2011


Empath: If deep house is more a scene than a genre, how is it possible for you to pick out a deep house record when you hear one?
posted by dydecker at 7:53 AM on May 11, 2011


Cause if you go to enough deep house parties, you get a feel for the kinds of records those DJs play.

It'shouse, but it's going to have a lot more 'real' instruments than synths -- strings and horns.. it's going to have a lot of 'soul' vocals, the tempo is going to be between 118 and 125 bpm (slower than average for house)., its going to have more syncopated hi-hats than is typical for techno or electro house...

But to me, it's still house music, and a lot of deep house DJs will play records that wouldn't get categorized normally as 'deep house' -- like minimal techno records or 2-step garage, but in the context of the party, they'll all sound like the style of music. I guess what I mean is that 'deep house' is a style of mixing and a particular vibe more than it is a hard and fast genre.
posted by empath at 8:07 AM on May 11, 2011


I think denying deep house is a genre of music is a very strange statement, especially as you've just correctly listed its defining characteristics!
posted by dydecker at 8:16 AM on May 11, 2011


Because those defining characteristics only define a small portion of what deep house DJs play, and that limiting deep house to that gives you a misleading impression of what the scene is like.

I don't think you can really understand dance music genres without being DJ focused. "Deep house" is whatever deep house DJs play, and if they start playing different records, then the genre is going to have to be redefined -- for the same reason that the definition of progressive changed when Sasha and Digweed started playing different records, and for the same reason that garage changed so radically in the early 2000s and late 90s.
posted by empath at 8:25 AM on May 11, 2011


Bizarre thinking. I mean I've heard Moodymann spin Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' in a club but that doesn't make it deep house!
posted by dydecker at 8:33 AM on May 11, 2011


Well, I'd think a precondition of being 'deep house' would be it being at least arguably a 'house record'. But there are lots of records that people would consider to be deep house classics that wouldn't normally get filed under 'deep house' in most record stores.

There's definitely a deep house sound, but it's really fluid and hard to define, and it's different from one DJ to the next, and I think that any way you definite it is going to either leave out a whole bunch of records that are important to the scene or its going to put a lot of records in the 'deep house' category that would really be better put elsewhere -- like how do you separate deep house from 'tech-house'? There's so much cross-over these days that I'd have an impossible time telling you which song should go where. Where are you going to file Tensnake or Martin Buttrich? Imo, if Deep House DJs are playing Comacat, it's deep house, no matter where beatport puts it.

When you try to start subdividing genres such as house, you start getting into problems where the divisions are essentially arbitrary and driven by marketing rather than anything that's actually in the music.
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on May 11, 2011


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