Thursday, 22 January 2009

Acid Man

As I havent written any reviews in ages (boooo), thought I would higlight this excellent article I came across in FACT Magazine- essential reading for disco head nodders

It comes from the fantastic German Best Before Disco fanzine. I don't neccesarily agree with the idea that acid house is 'funkier' than disco- but its bloody welll written, so worth a look.

Disco vs Acid House - Tuesday, 20 January 2009

To me, disco music becomes interesting by the late '70s when producers started to tear down disco's "wall of sound" and got rid of all those sickening orchestral sections, mostly made up of string and horn compositions. Not only the reduction to the bare musical essentials, but also the concept of automatization was necessary to help disco become fresher.

Back in 1975, during the production of Donna Summer's 'Love To Love You Baby', Giorgio Moroder advised his drummer Keith Forseth to play the drums in perfect sync with a Wurlitzer Sideman - the first commercially available electronic drum-machine, which was made in 1959. While the rather crappy Sideman sounds (created from vacuum tubes!) were not used in the song, Moroder's approach was clear: to seek for funk in a dry, steady machine-like beat. The bass drum was recorded very loud and with a distinct punch and although the track runs on only 96 bpm (a term that came up in the disco era btw.) it might mark the beginning of a new technique that soon became essential for dance music production.

While house music adopted disco's 4-to-the-floor rhythm structure and thus created an apparent connection, the sound aesthetics slowly became more abstract and futuristic. A Ron Hardy Warehouse mix from the mid-'80s is loaded with edits of cheesy, ornamental Disco tracks, suddenly cut through by minimal pumping House rhythms that sound like they slipped in from a wormhole. One wonders why wunderkind DJ Ron Hardy hadn't just dismissed Disco completely after house music was born. From the view of a DJ or dance music producer, the focus on pure rhythm rather than on opulent orchestration should be a logical consequence.

However, the advent of programmable drum machines like the gritty sample-based Linn LM-1 and the Roland TR-808 and 909, with their archetypical pounding bassdrum circuitry provided the necessary equipment to make the crowd "jack". Soon, rhythmical paradigms were broken up and snares and handclaps were put all over the place while never loosing their quantized tightness.

I feel that acid house finally liberated dance music from individual-related live music and erased the reference to disco music as far as possible. With acid, atonality found its way into house and the snatchy rhythms coupled with the staccatos and portamentos of the 303 are a perfect match. I wouldn't argue that Acid House is more intelligent than disco - it might even be more stupid - but it's surely closer to catharsis and much more funky!

Suggested Listening

Chip E. - 'Time to Jack' (Gotta Dance Records, 1985) [above]
Hercules - '7 Ways' (Dance Mania, 1986)
Mr. Lee - 'House This House' (Trax Records, 1987)
Tyree - 'Acid Crash' (Rockin House Music, 1988)
Gherkin Jerks - 'Acid Ingestion' (Gherkin Records, 1988)
Armando - '151' (Warehouse Records, 1988)
Mike Dunn - 'Magic Feet' (Westbrook Records, 1988)
Two Of A Kind - 'Acid Bitch' (West Madison Records, 1988)
Fast Eddie - 'Acid Thunder' (DJ International, 1988)
Spanky - 'Acid Bass' (Trax Records, 1989)

Roglok []

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