|Stylistic origins||House |
|Cultural origins||1980s, Chicago, United States|
|Mainstream popularity||late 1980s and early 1990s United States, United Kingdom.|
|Styles of house music|
Acid house is a sub-genre of house music that emphasizes a repetitive, hypnotic and trance-like style, often with samples or spoken lines rather than sung lyrics. Acid house's core electronic squelch sounds were developed by mid-1980s DJs from Chicago who experimented with the Roland TB-303 electronic synthesizer-sequencer. Acid house spread to the United Kingdom, Australia, and continental Europe, where it was played by DJs in the early rave scene. By the late 1980s, copycat tracks and acid house remixes brought the style into the mainstream, where it had some influence on pop and dance styles.
Nicknamed "the sound of acid", acid house was different than the emerging styles of deep house or vocal house in that it was starkly minimal, being very light or absent of instrumentation and generally harder or trancier sounding than these.Template:Fact This bifurcation marked an early separation in house music that directly correlated to the origin of hard dance and trance and which developed in conjunction with the more underground and specialized rave scene. Template:Fact The starkness of the style was a result of the discovery of the strange sounds that the Roland 303 bass line synthesizer produced when tweaked and the straight 4|4 rhythm which though shared by much of house and techno music was programmed into much harder and more pounding rhythms than pop or electro. Template:Fact Both of these elements are present in most of the tracks considered core to the sound of acid house. Template:Fact Roland's other famous sound, the Roland TR-909 drum machine is nearly as common. Acid house's influence on dance music is tangible considering the sheer number of electronic music tracks referencing acid house through the use of its sounds, including trance, Goa Trance, psytrance, breakbeat, big beat, techno, trip-hop and house music.
is considered the emblem of acid house.]]
The first acid house records were produced in Chicago, Illinois. Phuture, a group founded by Nathan "DJ Pierre" Jones, Earl "Spanky" Smith Jr., and Herbert "Herb J" Jackson, is credited with having been the first to use the TB-303 in the house music context (the instrument appeared as early as 1983 in disco via Alexander Robotnick). The group's 12-minute "Acid Tracks" was recorded to tape and was played by DJ Ron Hardy at the Music Box, where Hardy was resident DJ. Hardy once played it four times over the course of an evening until the crowd responded favorably.
Chicago's house music scene was suffering from a massive crack down of parties and events by the police. Sales of house records were dwindling and by 1988, the genre was selling less than a tenth as many records as at the height of the style's popularity. However, house and especially acid house was beginning to experience a massive surge in popularity in Britain.
London's club Shoom, circa 1987, was one of the first clubs to introduce acid house to the clubbing public of England. It was opened by Danny Rampling and his wife. The club was extremely exclusive and featured thick fog, a dreamy atmosphere and acid house. This period began what some call the Second Summer of Love, a movement credited with a reduction in football hooliganism: instead of fights, football fans were listening to music, taking ecstasy, and joining the other club attendees in a peaceful movement often paralleled to the Summer of Love in San Francisco in the 1960s. However, the Second Summer of Love is generally considered much less politicized than its namesake, and is often seen as hedonistic and self-indulgent.Template:Fact
Another club called Trip was opened by Nick Holloway in 1988 and was geared directly towards the acid house music scene. It was known for its intensity and stayed open until 3 AM. The patrons would spill into the streets chanting and drew the police on regular occasions. The reputation that occurrences like this created along with the UK's strong anti-club laws started to make it increasingly difficult to offer events in the conventional club atmosphere. Considered illegal in London during the late 80s, after-hour clubbing was against the law. However, this did not stop the club-goers from continuing after-hours dancing. Police would raid the after-hour parties, so the groups began to assemble inside warehouses and other inconspicuous venues in secret, hence also marking the first developments of the rave. Raves were well attended at this time and consisted of single events or moving series of parties thrown by production companies or unlicensed clubs. Two well known groups at this point were the famous "RiP" or Revolution in Progress, known for the dark atmosphere and hard music at their events which were usually thrown in warehouses and Sunrise who held particularly massive outdoor events.
The Sunrise group threw several large acid house raves in England which gathered serious press attention. In 1988 they threw "Burn It Up," 1989 brought "Early Summer Madness," "Midsummer Night's Dream," and "Back to the Future." They advertised huge sound systems, fairground rides, foreign DJs, and other attractions. Many articles were written sensationalizing these parties and the results of them, focusing especially on the drug use and out-of-control nature that the media perceived.
In September 1989, Sunrise held the largest Acid House rave ever, just outside Reigate in Surrey. In the fields adjacent to the school playing fields at Hartswood (between Woodhatch and Sidlow Bridge), the rave took place and lasted from 10pm on the Saturday night until late into Sunday night. It was estimated that nearly 20,000 attended during the weekend, and car queues stretched 4 miles, from the top of Reigate Hill to the Hartswood fields. It was widely covered by the press and television.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, news media and tabloids devoted an increasing amount of coverage to the hedonistic acid house/rave scene, focusing on its association with psychedelic drugs and club drugs. The sensationalist nature of the coverage may have contributed to the banning of acid house during its heyday from radio, television, and retail outlets in the United Kingdom. The moral panic of the press began in 1988, when the UK tabloid The Sun, which only weeks earlier had promoted Acid House as "cool and groovy" while running an offer on Acid Smiley Face T-Shirts, abruptly turned on the scene. On October 19, the tabloid ran with the headline "Evils of Ecstasy," linking the Acid House scene with the new and relatively unknown drug. The resultant panic incited by the tabloids eventually led to a crackdown on clubs and venues that played Acid House and had a profound negative impact on the scene.
UK acid house and rave fans used the yellow smiley face symbol simply as an emblem of the music and scene, a "vapid, anonymous smile" that portrayed the "simplest and gentlest of the Eighties’ youth manifestations" that was non-aggressive, "except in terms of decibels" at the high-volume DJ parties. Some acid house fans used a smiley face with a blood streak on it, which Watchmen comics creator Alan Moore asserts was based on Dave Gibbons' artwork for the series.
Within just a few years, acid house had gained a considerable fan base, and the influence of the music reached beyond the club and warehouse environment. It also influenced UK pop music during these formative years, emerging in a somewhat sanitized version in songs like Bananarama's "Tripping on Your Love" (1991) and Samantha Fox's "Love House" (1989). Acid house influences also appear in the 1988 hit by S'Express, "Theme from S'Express" and in remixes of pop songs on 12" singles by various mainstream acts.
Musically, acid house started to move away from its almost total reliance on the TB-303, but continued to use repeated sound sequences that were shifted and warped by electronic modulation.
Acid house remained active after the first wave and has experienced waves of popularity. Richie Hawtin, Moby, Massive Attack all released tunes in the early 1990s featuring the Roland TB-303. Josh Wink released "Higher State of Consciousness" in 1995, just another peak in acid house's continuous up-and-down cycle in over 20 years of popularity and performance. As computer programs such as ReBirth and VSTi (Virtual Studio Technology Instrument) versions of the essential Roland TB-303 were developed, the sound began to appear in many different styles of music. Roland released the MC-303 Groovebox in the mid 1990s, which featured samples of the original TB-303.
DJs and producers using tracks or sounds from acid house that appeared in the 1990s and 2000s include Chris Liberator, 808 State, DJ Pierre, Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Terry Mullen, Luke Vibert, Aphex Twin, The Future Sound of London and many others including artists far outside the acid house genre such as Madonna, the Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails.
There are conflicting accounts about how the term acid came to be used to describe this style of house music.
One account ties it to Phuture's "Acid Trax": Before the song was given a title for commercial release, it was played by DJ Ron Hardy at a nightclub where psychedelic drugs were reportedly used. The club's patrons called the song "Ron Hardy's Acid Track" (or "Ron Hardy's Acid Trax"). The song was released with the title "Acid Trax" on Larry Sherman's label Trax Records in 1987. Sources differ on whether it was Phuture or Sherman who chose the title; Phuture's DJ Pierre says the group did because the song was already known by that title, but Sherman says he chose the title because the song reminded him of acid rock. Regardless, after the release of Phuture's song, the term Acid House came into common parlance.
The reference to "acid" may be a celebratory reference to psychedelic drugs in general, such as LSD, as well as a popular mid-1980s club drug Ecstasy (MDMA). Such drugs were reportedly prevalent in Ron Hardy's club, where Acid Tracks was first heard and popularized.
Philippe Renaud, a journalist for La Presse in Montreal, states that the term Acid house was "Coined in Chicago in 1987 to describe the sound of the Roland 303 bass machine." Renaud states that acid house music "made its first significant recording appearance on Phuture's Acid Trax (DJ Pierre) in that year."
Electronic music historian Dan Sicko also advances this theory in his book Techno Rebels, stating acid house is "named for its psychedelic sounds," particularly that of the Roland TB-303.
Other accounts of the etymology of the term are not based on the LSD or psychedelic connotations. The theory that acid was a derogatory reference towards the use of samples in acid house music was repeated in the press and in the British House of Commons. In this theory, the term acid came from the slang term "acid burning", which the Oxford Dictionary of New Words calls "a term for stealing." Since acid house makes substantial use of sampling, this can be deemed "stealing from other tracks." A problem with this theory is that although early house music producers did use samples, most acid house music was fully original compositions made using sequencers and synthesizers.
In 1991, UK Libertarian advocate Paul Staines claimed that he coined the non-drug-oriented explanation (equating "acid burning" with stealing) to discourage the government from adopting anti-rave party legislation. Staines stated that he spread this misinformation because he believed that the British public would deem the use of drugs at rave parties to be unacceptable, and would therefore support legislation against rave parties.
Various accounts tie "acid house" to British performer and musician Genesis P-Orridge of the experimental music collective Psychic TV, which in 1988 released a record called "Tune In (Turn On The Acid House)", allegedly the first record to have the phrase in its title. These stories include claims that he invented the genre and/or coined its name, or that he was the first to introduce the music to Ibiza. Some of these accounts tell of a visit P-Orridge made to a Chicago record store. One says that he combined the terms "acid" and "house" after seeing them separately on the covers of albums he bought there. Other accounts, including one from P-Orridge himself, say he merely bought records from a bin marked "acid". A variation of the story says the bin's label was a reference to a corrosive liquid, but P-Orridge mistook it as a reference to LSD. One account goes on to say he bought the whole bin and played the records at his regular DJ gig at Ibiza, where he introduced the Chicago sound to the MDMA-using, Osho-following "orange people" there, who discovered the music and drugs complemented each other. P-Orridge's role is disputed by music journalist Simon Reynolds, who calls it a "self-serving myth", and by Fred Giannelli, another member of Psychic TV.
Once the term acid house became more widely used, participants at acid house-themed events in the UK and Ibiza made the psychedelic drug connotations a reality by using club drugs such as ecstasy. The association of acid house, MDMA, and smiley faces was observed in New York City by late 1988. This coincided with an increasing level of scrutiny and sensationalism in the mainstream press, although conflicting accounts about the degree of connection between acid house music and drugs continued to surface.
The earliest recorded examples of acid house are a matter of debate.
At least one historian considers the Phuture's "Acid Trax" to be the genre's earliest example; DJ Pierre says it may have been composed as early as 1985, but it was not released until 1987. Another points out Sleezy D's "I've Lost Control" (1986) was the first to be released on vinyl, and it's impossible to know which track was created first.