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Mega, twisted and radical
November 11, 2013 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Stakker Humanoid - How 25 years ago Future Sound of London brought Acid House to the mainstream.
posted by Artw (39 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good article, but I would say 808 state brought it to the masses.
posted by four panels at 12:58 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also strange that the article doesn't mention acid house's Chicago roots.
posted by hyperizer at 1:06 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heh. I've just been on an FSOL kick again, because:

-- over at the analogindustries blog, Chris Randall wrote a post about Big Beat.

-- a couple weeks ago I picked up a used PS Vita and have been playing a lot of Wipeout 2048, which makes me nostalgic for the original Wipeout on PSOne, and "We Have Explosive" is forever associated in my mind with that game.

(The remix of "We Have Explosive" that plays on WO 2048 is pretty disappointing. Actually the whole soundtrack doesn't live up to the previous games in the series, with the exception of the Kraftwerk tune.)
posted by Foosnark at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good article, but I would say 808 state brought it to the masses.

A Guy Called Gerald's Voodoo Ray, maybe.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on November 11, 2013


I went on a bit of an FSOL kick a couple years ago; I listened to them a LOT around the time that Dead Cities came out. I remember really loving the singles, which were usually these 45-minute wide-ranging explorations of a single song. On returning to the LP, the songs from the singles would seem like an overcompressed version of the real thing, like looking through a tiny window at an immense landscape.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:21 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, this was the inspiration for Idris Elba's character in Pacific Rim, right?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:30 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes.
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on November 11, 2013


I love that Stakker era UK acid, but I think in the US the brief hip-house fad, which grew out of Chicago/acid house, probably drew the most attention from outside the underground club scene. For example, Kevin Saunderson was doing acid remixes for Jive Records in 1988 (the same year as Stakker Humanoid). The Jungle Brothers released I'll house you the same year.

I did some work for Chip E. a while back and was looking at his old photos from that era. Found a few great photos of him hanging out with Janet Jackson at a music awards thing. I love imagining what that collaboration would have produced.
posted by p3t3 at 2:44 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


A great tune, although I always preferred the Snowman Mix. Not sure who was responsible for that.
posted by srednivashtar at 2:49 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad they slipped out of the acid straightjacket long enough to produce the extraordinary Lifeforms, one of the great wee hours headphone albums of the nineties.
posted by sonascope at 2:55 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


They're more low-key now but FSOL are still going under a variety of names. If you liked Lifeforms I'd highly recommend the Environments series of albums. They've also released a ton of archive stuff from the 90s.
posted by Artw at 3:07 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


four panels: "Good article, but I would say 808 state brought it to the masses."

I love that the video starts out with dudes playing electric guitars, when the music is (generally) so removed from such instrumentation, and instead focused on fucking with electronic gear that is often termed "knob twiddling."


srednivashtar: A great tune, although I always preferred the Snowman Mix . Not sure who was responsible for that.

From a search of Discogs, it looks like it could have been a remix by the band, because the releases that include that mix don't have any extra credits.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:21 PM on November 11, 2013


hyperizer: Also strange that the article doesn't mention acid house's Chicago roots.

If anyone wants a lengthy, interesting read on the history of dance music, Simon Reynold's Energy Flash is great, and it's out in the US with a new, extended edition.

See also: The story of acid house, by DJ Pierre, for a look at how Acid House began in the US.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:32 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


HUMANOID Blip blip blip HUMANOID ok ellis? tzzew tzeew tzeew wabbbawabbawabba.
posted by lalochezia at 3:49 PM on November 11, 2013


chooooon!
posted by Hogshead at 3:52 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Reynolds doesn't do a great job of covering Chicago. Brewster and Broughton's Last Night a DJ Saved My Life is better, or check out my articles (self-link).
posted by hyperizer at 4:33 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


p3t3: You've worked with Chip E? Do tell!!! I've done a couple of tracks with Sterling Void.....
posted by tantrumthecat at 6:00 PM on November 11, 2013


ALSO: Nice work, hyperizer!!!
posted by tantrumthecat at 6:05 PM on November 11, 2013


I'm just glad they slipped out of the acid straightjacket long enough to produce the extraordinary Lifeforms, one of the great wee hours headphone albums of the nineties.

Yeah, I'll second this. It sounds a little dusty to my ears now, but it's still got plenty of juice in it. The Lifeforms 'single' left a big impression on me as well, largely due to the addition of the Elisabeth Fraser vocal stylings which give it a whole 'nother level of otherworldliness.
posted by the painkiller at 7:00 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've worked with Chip E? Do tell!

Not musically, although he was happily surprised to find out I had most of his records since I was also DJing locally at the time. It was actually a bit of design/consulting work for his self produced house documentary, The Unusual Suspects. Didn't amount to much work on my end, but I was more than happy just playing his old records on the DJ rig in his home office. Great guy; very friendly.
posted by p3t3 at 7:13 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, FSOL. Hearing Papua New Guinea on the Cool World soundtrack got me hooked on electronic music..
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:29 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lifeforms was a better album than Dead Cities, even though Dead Cities had more standout songs.
posted by Jpfed at 7:52 PM on November 11, 2013


Funny timing, I was also recently on a FSOL kick. Some of my favorite stuff of theirs are the EPs they released around the time of their major albums, which, unlike the standard singles-loaded-with-remixes format, were sprawling soundscapes, beautifully flowing from one track to the other. My particular favorites were the Cascade EP and the My Kingdom EP. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that both are streaming on Spotify.
posted by TheRoach at 9:14 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love that video. It's really a future sound meets then-dominant 80s rapper-style dancing, except at the end when the female dancer breaks out some classic proto-techno stacking-the-shelves, opening-the-refridgerator and pointing-out-out-the-obvious moves. Wonderfully anachronistic. Like watching Guy Called Gerlad, KLF, Altern8, Orbital or 808 State in the early days as people were figuring out how to dance to this new shit.
posted by meehawl at 9:46 PM on November 11, 2013


Good article, but the record was also championed by John Peel, which is how I heard it. What was remarkable about that moment was that he, Bruno Brookes, Pete Waterman and the dance music underground (this was pre-Kiss FM I think) were all in agreement.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 11:42 PM on November 11, 2013


I think it's weird that anybody assumes that these records got popular because some clueless old guys on the radio promoted it, rather than thousands of people hearing them while off their tits on ecstasy every weekend at shoom, etc. This was in the middle of the summer of love. I don't think anybody needed Radio 1 to tell them what was going on.
posted by empath at 11:47 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ahhh, FSOL. For a time it was increasingly common to champion a stunning new tune you'd discovered only to find out it was those two bastards with yet another pseudonym. Such relentless creativity seemed normal at the time but looking back we were truly blessed.

Tales of Ephidrena is still my favourite.
posted by fullerine at 1:20 AM on November 12, 2013


I think it's weird that anybody assumes that these records got popular because some clueless old guys on the radio promoted it, rather than thousands of people hearing them while off their tits on ecstasy every weekend at shoom, etc. This was in the middle of the summer of love. I don't think anybody needed Radio 1 to tell them what was going on.

Shoom never held thousands (except if you include everyone who says they were there) but even if you add up all the raves held inside the M25 during their rather brief existence the numbers are tiny compared to Radio 1 audiences. This was a curious moment when house became mainstream and genuinely popular: millions could see the video on TV, hear it on national radio (the existence of which is far more important than those in the UK are generally aware of) and buy it in a small-town Our Price.

The fact that it's actually a great record, and clearly in a different league from the novelties that had previously had wide exposure, makes it truly remarkable.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 2:02 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dangerous levels of 80s, so brace yourselves... HITMAN AND HER - Humanoid Stakker Humanoid
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


(oh, that's actually linked in the article, carry on)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:01 AM on November 12, 2013


Play the Omen Mix 45 at 33 for some driving big beat. Unfortunately doesn't work unless you have the original 45, as the splatter vinyl reissued in '92 is a 33.
posted by asok at 5:41 AM on November 12, 2013


fearfulsymmetry: Dangerous levels of 80s, so brace yourselves... HITMAN AND HER - Humanoid Stakker Humanoid

From the article:
"I remember it well!" [Pete Waterman] says enthusiastically. More remarkably ,he remembers the specifics of the YouTube clip. "It was Flicks nightclub in Brechin. I'd been in a distillery for quite some time beforehand," he laughs.
Hahaha, fucking hell. I live in Brechin. Flicks is about a five minute walk from my house, though it's long closed. (This, sadly, is what it looks like from the outside now; it's on the Buildings at Risk register.)

Weirdly, despite being in a run-down rural town of 6000 people in north east Scotland - pretty much your definition of the middle of fucking nowhere, culturally-speaking - from the very late 80s through the mid 90s it was one of the most forward looking clubs in Scotland; they were booking the likes of Andy Weatherall and Steve Bicknell back in 1991 (and John Digweed in 1993, when nobody knew who the fuck he was); Twitch & Brainstorm, the DJs/promoters from Scotland's first real techno night, Pure*, which normally ran in Edinburgh, were getting booked there too 'round about the same time. People would get coaches from as far away as Newcastle, 4 or 5 hours away in the north east of England, to go to Flicks. Twitch, from Pure, is a friend of mine, and I remember him saying, when I'd told him I was moving to Brechin, that outside of the crowd at his own night in Edinburgh, the crowd in Flicks was (i) the most mental he'd ever-encountered and (ii) the most willing to be led astray from the comfort of what they knew. And this in a wee town, where a short walk from the club's front door would have you in tattie fields. Or a distillery, which is still there, in Pete Waterman's case.


*Pure's reputation, at this point, was high enough that the Plus8 crew - Ritchie Hawtin and Speedy J included - played live sets there back in 1991
posted by Len at 9:55 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


That Brechin? Seriously? I lived near there in the late 70s when my Dad was stationed at Edzell and I visited with my wife about 10 years ago. I cannot for the life of me place this video in that sleepy little town.

I know what I will be listening to all day now!
posted by feersum endjinn at 1:07 PM on November 12, 2013


People would get coaches from as far away as Newcastle, 4 or 5 hours away in the north east of England, to go to Flicks.

I was in Newcastle in the early nineties and one reason for that was that an unholy combination of the authorities and the local villains chased house and techno almost completely out of town. There was a big rave (Rezerrection?) that was forced to relocate to near Edinburgh. You got the odd Megadog or Underworld gig at the Universities or the Riverside, and that was basically it. Odd for such a big and otherwise happening city. I guess discount booze nights in the Bigg Market were more profitable for someone and they didn't want anything competing with that.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 1:27 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


If anyone wants a lengthy, interesting read on the history of dance music, Simon Reynold's Energy Flash is great, and it's out in the US with a new, extended edition.

Thanks, I didn't know about the extended edition. See also Matthew Collin's Altered State (which I now see has also been updated).
posted by GeorgeBickham at 1:30 PM on November 12, 2013


GUYS! Come on everyone knows it was Guru Josh that brought the sound of acid house into the mainstream. TIME FOR GURU
posted by awfurby at 9:06 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the US, it was Josh Wink that had the first big acid record (in the sense of radio/mtv play)
posted by empath at 9:30 PM on November 12, 2013


Interesting empath, as it appears that We Call it Acieed got to number one of the US dance chart in 1988, but maybe that did not parley into college radio airtime. Judging by the comment on the video, the record company would only pay for 2 minutes so maybe it didn't get MTV exposure as a result. Get right on one, Matey!
posted by asok at 5:01 AM on November 13, 2013


Funnily enough, awfurby, I am in the process of making a compilation who's working title is '1990 is not time for the Guru'.
posted by asok at 5:09 AM on November 13, 2013


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