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There’s a blog full of downloadable Haçienda DJ sets. You’re welcome.
09:27 am


Acid House

I have a friend, as big a music nut as I am, who was in school in Manchester while the Haçienda was still open, and he never went. I love the guy—he’s basically family—but that one fact about him makes me wonder how I understand him AT ALL.

The Haçienda was an epochally important nightclub opened by Factory Records and New Order in 1982, and it quickly became an important hub for Manchester’s already important music scene—the Smiths’ and Happy Mondays’ earliest gigs occurred there, as did Madonna’s UK debut. But within a few years, the importance of live concerts was eclipsed by the club’s global importance to the emergence of DJ culture. The Haçienda was a crucial incubator for the Rave scene, which led to packed houses just for DJs. This was both blessing and curse—the club had a huge audience, but that audience preferred ecstasy and LSD over alcohol as party-fuel, so while the bar went broke, the drug dealers cleaned up. With dealers come turf disputes, and with those come violence, and so security was as big a factor in the club’s 1997 closure as was financial failure.

Blog51 has amassed a huge collection of Haçienda DJ sets, all downloadable in MP3 format. I’m not sure how these all came to be preserved, or how the blogger (a frequent patron named Andrew Mckim) managed to collect them all, but it’s a pretty amazing document of a scene over time. Between November of 2012 and May of 2014, Mckim posted dozens of DJ sets spanning from ’83 to ’97. The majority of the sets are understandably from the club’s in-house guys Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, but there’s plenty more to find in there—as I write this I’m listening to a 1994 set from Chicago House Godhead Frankie Knuckles.

This short documentary on the Haçienda is hosted by Factory Records honcho Tony Wilson’s son Oliver, who as a small child had a front row seat for some of the most amazing developments in late 20th Century pop music. Enjoy.



Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Original DJ playlists from Manchester’s Haçienda glory days
The night The Smiths stole the show at The Hacienda and changed music
Divine takes the UK: Two Hacienda shows and ‘Top of the Pops’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Browser-based TB-303 emulator: Old-school ‘Acid House’ on the go
10:23 am


Acid House

For the past several days, I have been having an absolute BLAST messing around with the beta for Liverpool, England-based web developer Errozero’s Acid Machine. I learned about it via Fact last week, and I don’t even know why I didn’t just post it here right away, but better later than never, no? The Acid Machine is a free browser-based electronic composition device based around the legendary Roland TB-303, and it’s great fun.

Some background for those who need it: Roland’s Transistorized Bass 303 was a unique example, in the history of sound producing devices, of abject failure redeemed. It was (mis)conceived as a bass accompaniment tool/toy for guitar players, and God only knows why—has any guitarist in history ever despaired of finishing a song for want of a bass player who sounded like a ‘50s b-movie robot enduring a painful gastric incident? Since its target market couldn’t have cared less, production of the little wonders was stopped in 1984, after just a year and a half of their existence. But the deeply messed up sounds it could produce were like mother’s milk to the burgeoning Acid House movement just a few years later. That wonderfully mind-bending squelch/fart noise common to all early Acid House tracks was made by hitherto unwanted 303s that found proper homes where they’d be loved and cared for. The sound became so sought-after among techno artists and the happy-face t-shirt crowd, it’s eternally baffling that Roland didn’t just start making them again. Original devices perpetually hover around $2,500-3,000 on eBay. A clone made by a company called Cyclone Analogic can be had for much less.

The device inspired software emulators just about as soon as software synthesis became widespread in the late ‘90s, including the still legendary ReBirth, which was discontinued ten years ago but lives on as a (FREE!) Reason plug-in, and as a $15 tablet app. There’s seriously no reason to spend three thousand dollars to chase that sound unless you’re a collector looking to possess one of the devices as a trophy. The Errozero Acid Machine is a simplified take on the ReBirth interface; it features two 303 simulators you can pit against one another, and a basic drum machine. You can store up to eight patterns for each device, and organize them into compositions with an intuitive sequencer. Like I said, I’ve been having a FINE old time with this. I don’t have a tablet, and there’s no phone version (the iPhone screen is frankly just too goddamn small for ReBirth’s many controls), so I’m loving the browser-based Acid Machine beta. Other useful functions: it will generate a URL to make your finished composition shareable, or it will generate a .wav file you can download and save. No MIDI output that I can see, but this is, again, a beta: the tiny-print reads “A work in progress web audio tool by Errozero - Works best in Chrome.” Perhaps the ability to output MIDI files is forthcoming?

If you’ve made your way this far through this post still having no earthly idea what the hell I’m talking about, “Acid Trax” by Phuture is as definitive as 303 songs come. It’s a slow build, but the distinctive device starts fading in at about 1:05.

This wonderful 20-minute doc on the devices tells you anything you’d want to know about them.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
New online theremin simulator kind of sounds cooler than the real thing

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘This Is Belgium’: the Radio Soulwax guide to late 80s Belgian New Beat

The perfect follow-up to The Beat Club’s “Acid Train” video I posted a few days ago, “This Is Belgium” sees that country’s top dance music export, Radio Soulwax, compiling an audio/visual history of its New Beat scene from the late 80s.

Not only are these videos great to listen to, they’re also very informative, charting the cultural and social history of a localized scene whose influence has since spread far and wide (and which is not to be confused with the original American use of the phrase “New Beat”, which meant an off-shoot of New Wave, it seems).

A regional dance music curio similar in a way to Italy’s Cosmic disco scene, New Beat djs took popular tracks of the time and slowed them down, usually playing 45rpm records at 33rpm, pitched up to +8 on the turntable. Like Cosmic, the wrong speed aspect gave New Beat an otherworldly edge: something is up with these records but it can be difficult to pinpoint what that is, if you don’t know they’re actually being played wrong.

Kicks become thuds, claps become clanks, and every vocal seems wretched from the bowels of hell. Visually New Beat may be plastered in smiley faces, but musically it’s threatening, it’s a lil’ bit scary. Slowing down acid and techno records made the sounds heavier and the atmosphere darker, and it also chimed with the emerging industrial/EBM scene of the time. This dark, powerful aesthetic would be seminal in defining the techno that came from Northern Europe in the 1990s.

From Wikipedia:

The New Beat sound originated in Belgium in the late 1980s, especially in 1987 and 1988.

The Belgian New Beat was an underground danceable music style, well known at clubs and discos in Europe. It is a local crossover of EBM, Acid and mid 80s underground House music. The 80s Dark Wave also became an aesthetic influence (especially Depeche Mode’s videos from 1985–1989). At the time, EBM was popular in German speaking countries and The Netherlands, Acid / Acid Trance was popular in the UK, and House Music (in a 80s Eurodisco French twist) was popular in France. Belgium created this unique music sound, with huge underground success all over Europe.

Legend has it that the Belgian New Beat genre was invented in the nightclub Boccaccio in Destelbergen near Ghent when DJ Marc Grouls played a 45rpm EBM record at 33rpm, with the pitch control set to +8. The track in question was Flesh by A Split-Second.

In addition to A Split-Second, the genre was also heavily influenced by other Industrial and EBM acts such as Front 242 and The Neon Judgement, as well as New Wave, and Dark Wave acts such as the likes of Fad Gadget, Gary Numan and Anne Clark.

Part one of this two hour Soulwax trip comes complete with commentary/text that tells the story of this short lived but influential dance fad (very informative and worthy of your eyes) while part two features what is presumably some Belgians reliving the New Beat dance crazes of their youth (which involve a lot of hoping around from foot to foot) while rocking some awesome retro shell suits. Enjoy: 

Radio Soulwax ‘This Is Belgium Pt 1’

Radio Soulwax ‘This Is Belgium Pt 2’


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Anti-Acid House propaganda from British tabloids, late 80s
02:59 pm


Acid House

These anti-Acid House headlines are giving me a case of the giggles. The majority of the newspaper clippings—circa late 80s—are from British tabloids The Sun and Daily Express. I don’t think they were very effective. 

All clippings were collected by Flickr user KRS-Dan.
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Rhythm Device: perhaps not the ‘Acid Rock’ you were expecting

Some ravers, yesterday
“Acid Rock’ by Rhythm Device is actually from Belgium in 1989, and not California in the late 60s, as the name might conjure up.

Hence the uber-silly video of leather-clad danse-boyz rocking out in a cheap looking discotheque.

The bass riff in this New Beat classic is naggingly familiar, it reminds me of the KLF a bit, but I am guessing it’s all nicked off some Chicago acid original anyway. That hasn’t stopped “Acid Rock” from being sampled by Nine Inch Nails, no less, on their late 80s hit “Down In It”.

Rhythm Device was the nom-de-techno of producer Frank De Wulfe, who followed up “Acid Rock” with the “Dream Trance” / “Higher Destiny” 12”. Although Discogs helpfully informs us that, even though they had different names:

These tracks are actually four different mixes of “Acid Rock”.

What a surprise.

Anyway, it’s all about the video. A perfect guide in how to look devastatingly butch and astoundingly gay at the same time, it’s all sold by the singers unwavering seriousness:


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘The Chemical Generation’ - Boy George’s documentary on British Rave Culture

Will George O’Dowd still be Boy George when he hits his half-century later this year? Man George doesn’t have the same hook to it - sounding like something a porn star would use; and we can never think of him as Middle-Aged George, even though that’s closer to the truth. For the wonderfully soulful-voiced O’Dowd has been a fixture of pop culture for thirty years, and he is now as lovable a character as the Queen Mum was to London cab drivers. Add to this his back catalog of hits and a shelf-full of notable tales - from his own fair share of ups and downs as internationally successful pop star, actor, writer, ex-druggie, ex-convict and DJ - and you’ll see why Boy George is a modern pop culture hero.

In 2000, George presented The Chemical Generation a fascinating documentary examining “the Acid House, rave and club culture revolution and also the generations favourite chemical - ecstasy.” This gem was first broadcast in the UK on Channel 4, on the 27 May 2000, and it is:

...the story of British club and drug culture from the early days of acid house. The documentary includes interviews with promoters, bouncers, drug dealers and the clubbers themselves, shot in clubs and bars around London and club footage from across the country. Interviewees include (DJs) Danny Rampling, Judge Jules, Nicky Holloway, Pete Tong, Lisa Loud, Mike Pickering, Dave Haslan, along with Ken Tappenden (former Divisional Commander of Kent Police) and writer (Trainspotting) Irvine Welsh.

The background to rave in the UK goes something like this:

In 1987 four working class males, Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Nicky Holloway and Johnny Walker found themselves in clubs across Ibiza, listening to the music which was to make them legends in the dance scene and transform the face of youth subculture in Britain. Not only did they discover the musical genre of Acid House, played by legendary house DJ’s Alredo Fiorillio and Jose Padilla in clubs such as Amnesia and Pacha, they were also crucially introduced to the drug MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy. Johnny Walker describes the experience:
“It was almost like a religious experience; a combination of taking ecstasy and going to a warm, open-air club full of beautiful people - you’re on holiday, you feel great and you’re suddenly being exposed to entirely different music to what you were used to in London. This strange mixture was completely fresh and new to us, and very inspiring”

The Chemical Generation covers their story and more, and giving an excellent history of Rave Culture, its drugs, its stars, and its music.

Bonus clip, Boy George sings ‘The Crying Game’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment