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Sorry EDM Fans, Acid House Has Been Around A Lot Longer Than You Think

As mainstream artists aim to reinvent the sound, we chronicle the origins of this iconic Chicago sub-genre.
October 16, 2014, 10:59pm

With a growing purist community and recent contributions from electronic heavyweights like Calvin Harris and Gorgon City, acid house is on the precipice of a modern revival. Since many acid house tracks are now older than the music fans that are hearing it for the first time on VEVO, we took it upon ourselves to share highlights of the genre's growth and key players for newcomers to the scene.

Like many house sub-genres, acid emerged in the cultural melting pot that was Chicago in the mid-80s. Characterized by minimalist production and squelching 303 synthesizers, two tracks are widely attributed with popularizing acid house and the use of the Roland 303: Phuture's "Acid Tracks" and Sleazy D's "I've Lost Control". Despite being released on vinyl one year after "I've Lost Control" in 1987, "Acid Tracks" was allegedly produced two years prior in 1985. This uncertainty has led to widespread debate and if you want to avoid a lynching, steer clear of the comments sections of either video.

The labels fueling acid's growth in the 80s will be familiar names to any classic house fans. Dance Mania, Westbrook Records, Trax Records, and Relief Records became hotbeds for acid producers and spawned early pioneers like Bam Bam, Lil Louis, Tyree, and Armando.

The UK's electronic community adopted acid house in the late 80s where it would become entrenched in the country's club scene. One of London's most iconic and exclusive clubs at the time, Shoom, took up the sound and encouraged its guests to stay well past closing. Crackdowns on after hours clubbing in the UK soon drove the genre (and its fans) to illegal warehouse parties and spawned the early relationship between drugs, raves, lasers, and fog machines.

One of the first Chicago sub-genres to attain widespread popularity, it wasn't long before acid house spread to Ibiza and the rest of Europe where the 90s saw a new wave of producers adopt the 303. Plastikman (Richie Hawtin's early moniker), Green Velvet, and Parris Mitchel all became heralds for the genre, while acts like Aphex Twin and many of Warp's roster spun the sound off into what we know as acid techno.

If you should take anything away from this abridged history of acid, it's that its community is one of the most accessible and historic of them all. The 303 has been around for three decades and the fact that a mainstream artist can take the sound and reinterpret it in 2014 is a testament to just how long-standing it is. Before you explore the world of modern acid, make sure to absorb the best of the 80s and 90s and learn where it all came from.