First off, I must admit I didn’t write this article. I’m just publishing it.
It’s a description of all Electronica Genres From Acid House To Trip hop. ( No Z, Hmm )
Hope u enjoy it.
This sound landed in 1986, when DJ Pierre, Spunky and producer Marshall Jefferson presented “Acid Trax”, created on the seminal TB-303. This genre developed its name from the high pitched squelchy and fat analogue noise which sounded better whilst taking LSD. The drug increases your frequency range, making you more susceptible to encompassing all the sounds thrown at you. The combination of lyrics with acid sounds, coupled with groovy bass lines and oscillating sine waves defines this particular style. Look out for labels such as Trax, Warehouse, Underground and Rhythm King; tracks that defined the sound are ‘Land of Confusion’ – Armando, ‘Acid Over’ – Tyree, ‘Where’s the Child?’ – Bam Bam, ‘No way back’ – Adonis and ‘This is Acid’ – Maurice. Genres like Techno, Acid and Tech House have grown from it.
Defining Features: 303, 909, 808; 120bpm; Chicago origins; ‘Wave your hands in the air’ sounds; Smiley face logos; big grins; Steve Robbins started the first underground electronic club in Melbourne called ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ (1987).
Like its predecessor, Acid grabbed its name from the drugs. Straight up. Music to trip to. After the temperate twiddlings of Acid House, producers let loose, tweaked ‘the box’ like hell, went crazy and thus acid was born. Acid came out with harsher frequencies, more complex sequences and a faster tempo than its Acid House brother. Originating in Chicago circa 1989, the main players included Mike Dearborn, Robert Armani, Freddy Fresh and the Underground Resistance Crew (Robert Hood, Jeff Mills and Mike Banks). Big tracks include ‘Creepy Breath’ – Dr Fernando, ‘Seawolf’ – Underground Resistance, ‘Tracks that move ya’ – The MD Connection, ‘Acperience’ – Hardfloor, ‘Acid Air Raid (George’s All Nighter)’ – Solar Quest, ‘Seduction’ – Systemshock. The Big Shit Label was Djax, releasing many of the louder talking acid tracks. Underground Resistance used a lot of complex rhythms which is the backbone to what we know today as ‘Techno’.
Defining Features: TB-303, TR-909, TR-808, SH-101, the entire Roland analogue range; 140-150 bpm; Chicago origins; Vicks-rubbed nurses masks; extremely big/small pupils; everyone from this era making music had to have a 303 – you just had to. FSOM represented this sound in the earlier stages of Melbourne’s dance scene, as did Voiteck. Today we have people like Dee Dee and Honeysmack.
Some of the first experimental electronic music to emerge. Aiming to create an atmosphere, a soundscape in which to ‘astral project’ yourself to a ‘higher level’. Producers like Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Georgio Moroder and Mike Oldfield lead this scene, allowing complete freedom to experiment without boundaries or barriers. Samples of whale song and nature sounds combined with electronic experimentation to complete the soundscene.
Defining Features: Strings; Bells; reel-to-reel looping of samples; soft wafting sounds; Zen paradox and Voiteck featured these sounds in their early sets.
Phat beats! Cut and paste, jazzy horns, happy and bouncy, vocals and guitar, all combining to create a phat, phunky, jazzy mish-mash of Fat Boy Slim-ness! Originating in the Big Beat Boutique, Brighton, UK and taken to the heights that it is at now by Norman Cook, a.k.a. Fat Boy Slim. The inspirational ‘Everybody needs a 303’ which featured on his album ‘Better Living through Chemistry’ on Skint Records, appeals to many indie listeners, who would not consider it ‘Dance Music’, showing its crossover zeal, its danceability. Also look out for Dee-Jay Punk Roc, Low Fidelity Allstars, Propellerheads, Bently Rhythm Ace and many others taken to the sounds and the freedom of Big Beat. Start swinging your hips and clacks, you cant resist!
Defining Features: Horns; fat grooves; can’t keep your hips still; Brewster B and D’Jazz play some elements in their sets; guitars, and everything else thrown in with a sprinkling of fun.
Also see: Dirty Breakbeat/Electro Breakbeat/Acid Breakbeat/Abstract Breakbeat/House Breakbeat/ Tech Breakbeat/Nu Skool Breakbeat/Californian Breakbeat
Breakbeat’s roots like firmly in James Brown – soul, rhythm and blues. The ‘funky drummer break’ is one of the most sampled breaks in Electronica history, sampled and looped together with old R & B and new breaks, adapting the cut and paste theory. Disjointed, syncopated breaks, traditional instruments turned into electro sounds, hip-hop vocals – all on the offbeat with a serious lack of doof. This is one of the hardest genres to classify, with whole slabs of original sounds being plastered over a fresh platform. From DJ Shadow’s ‘Endtroducing…’ to Bomb The Bass’ ‘Bug Powder Dust’, these two samples show the wide range of diversity that exists.
Dirty Breakbeat – like big beat, but grimier, with more distortion, not too acidic. Try Chemical Brothers – ‘Exit Planet Dust’. Electro Breakbeat – piano samples, simple obvious beats, back to electric boogoloo. Kraftwerk – ‘Tour de France’. Acid Breakbeat/Californian Breakbeat – US West Coast, San Francisco. Acid driving with tweaked out sounds; house funk bass with same breaks. Freaky Chakra, John Kelly – ‘Funkydesertbreaks’. Abstract beats – Electro sounds, with a weird edge, broken beats. Tech Breakbeat – drum machines, not sampled, cold harsh and impersonal. Techno with old skool flava. Try Submerge label. Nu Skool Breaks – Everything from big beat defining bass, harder mechanical darker breaks, like Adam Freeland – ‘Coastal Breaks’.
Defining Features: Scattered beats; Ransom, Brewster B, J’Nett and many others feature breaks in their sets.
Predominantly played in mainstream clubs, and featured in the Top 40, these tracks are the more accessible of Electronica. Easy rhythms, non-confrontational beats, smooth grooves and 70s sample rip-offs are the signs of commercial music. The extreme Anthems, recognizable for all and with a high sing-a-long factor. Take ‘Music sounds better with you’ – Stardust, an example of overall appeal for people who like house, funk, disco, through to the kids watching Rage in the mornings. Also try C+C Music Factory – ‘Get Funky’, Dee-lite – ‘Groove is in the Heart’, (Oh yes… Baby… wave those hands high… Practice those hairbrush mike moves with your shu-shu moves… your know what we mean), The KLF – ‘Justified and Ancient’, Rozalla – ‘Everybody’s free (to feel good)’ and Art of Noise – ‘Instruments of Darkness (All of us are one people – The Prodigy mix)’. There are many tracks which have an element of cheese to them, but that could be the memories. Some commercial tracks (see: ‘Let me be your Underwear’ – Club 69) are pure gorgonzola and are not to be taken seriously but are made to unite the crowd into a sticky steamy fondue of smiles…
Defining Features: Feature on the Top 40; played at clubs as opposed to dance parties; often heard very loud from passing cars on Chapel Street; has the tendency to get people table top dancing; Check out DJs Frankie Dee, Greg Sara, Peter McNamara and Tim Spry.
DRUM & BASS
Also see: Hard Step/Dark Step/Intelligent/Jump Up/Digital Hardcore/Industrial Hardcore/ White Riot/Ragga Step
One of the encompassing styles of the moment, DnB can be heard just about anywhere – from influencing advertisements on TV, to pumping out of cafes all over Prahran, to loud and proud at Earthcore to dark and nasty with Ed Rush. A fusion of hardcore techno style with attitude, with a jazz, blues, funk lifestyle approach, DnB diverged from house in the early 90s, with tracks such as Doc Scott’s ‘Surgery EP’, and Trace & LTJ Bukem’s ‘Learning to Fly’. Around 91-92, reggae and dub influences could be heard coming though. Instead of speeding it up to fit the tempo, tracks were produced at 150-160 bpm, with structured underlying rhythms coming to the forefront. Try Hyper on E – ‘Lords of the Null Lines’, Omni Trio – ‘Renegade Snares’ and Shades of Rhythm – ‘Sweet Sensation (Ray Keith remix)’. From here on in, it was mayhem and chaos, with major splits separating groups into their styles. Labels such as Goldie’s ‘Metalheadz’, Nico’s ‘No U-Turn’ and Grooverider’s ‘Prototype’ emerged, fronted by these well known producers and DJs in London, birth place of the sound. Watch out for work from the above mentioned artists, as well as Optical, Dom and Roland, Dillinja, Alex Reece, Elementz of Noise, E-Z Rollers, Kemistry and Storm, Spring Heel Jack, Jonny L, and many, many more…
Hard Step – Grooverider, Trace, Photek. Emphasis on beats, more musically creative with a strong feel. Name came from an interview with Grooverider, who described the way it made you dance. Ed Rush and Fierce – ‘Locust’, Jonny L – ‘Piper’, and Genotype – ‘Extraterrestrial’. Labels include Prototype and Renegade Hardware. Intelligent – Name most commonly given to the jazzier sounds, like Roni Size – ‘Reprazent’, Adam F – ‘Circles’, LTJ Bukem – ‘Logical Progression’. Labels like Talkin Loud, Creative Wax, and Looking Good. Jump Up – Artists like Hype and Zinc, Aphrodite, Freestylers and Dope Skillz. More MCs, ragga style rhythms, with an emphasis on the bassline and beats. A jungle hip-hop sound clash… DJ Zinc – ‘Reach Out (remix)’, Swoosh – ‘Ya Rockin’, and Aphrodite and Mickey Finn – ‘Drop Top Caddy’. Labels like Urban Takeover, Aphrodite Recordings, and Trouble on Vinyl. Digital Hardcore – industrial sounds, hard rhythms, mad ass scratching, deep distortion. Try Alec Empire – ‘Suicidal’. Dark Step – Somewhere in between Digital Hardcore and Hard Step. Harder rhythm, raw sound, ‘wall of noise’ distortion feel to it. Panacea – ‘Shiver’, D’Headbanga – ‘D’Headbanga Theme’ and DJ Curse – ‘Mortal Lambs’. Check out ‘Phrenetic Drums’ and Panacea’s latest ‘Twisted Designz’.
Defining Features: Complex rhythms; dark synths; makes u want to stomp hard into the ground; Atom 1, Trooper, Ruffnut and Sidewinder have all been instrumental in bringing the sounds to Melbourne; sitting at 160-180 bpm at the moment.
For those who like to sit back and take life a little slower. We are talking fat, lazy beats; hooverishly large all encompassing bass; mind-altering squiggly snippets of mid-range sounds and highlighting roller-coastering melodies. We kid you not; this is where dub can take you and your body. Not always demanding on your feet and legs, it has the feel of reggae, acid jazz, tribal drumming, emotional lyrics and your own brain wanderings all squashed into one track. look out for tracks by 4-Hero, Mad Professor, Salmonella Dub, Tortoise, Sheriff Lindo, Wicked Beats Sound System, The Rootsman and Hypnoblob. Local artists include Sam Grapsas, Spacey Space and Kamehameha.
A sound that was distinctive to any ear, yet not really classified under a genre, ‘Echoes’ is the easiest way to describe it. Metallic sounding riffs with dark soundscapes combining with reversed sampled drums/synths, heavy hi-hats, cymbals and of course echo units to give the ‘Echo’ affect that seems eternal in the tracks in this sound. This style was a step away from the standard sound of ‘techno’, not dependant on the 303 as the main piece o equipment. Genre defining tracks were Dave Clarke’s big pay check with ‘The Red Series’ by using Kevin Saunderson sounding stabs from his Inner City project and basically ‘playing it in reverse’, the ‘Accelerator EP’ and Ian Pooley’s ‘Chord Memory’. The big label was Reload from Belgium, which was home base for Zzino, Matt Spinner and Carl Drake. Even though this sound was very centralized to one area, artists like Mike Ink, Dan Morgan and the Pump Panel played big parts in taking it to the next step. Echoed synths, combined with an extensive use of reverse sampling creates a dark vibe that not many other styles can match. The style played a big part in the structure of today’s techno. Adrian Van Raay, Will E Tell, Astroboy, Stewart and Nick Dem Q pushed the sound to the ears of Melbourne’s partygoers.
More a concept than a sound, Electro is one of the hardest genres to define. Going right back to Kraftwerk, the godfathers of electronic music, this style refuses to stay on the track, instead opting for the dangerous exploratory road, the one less travelled. Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaata & the Soul Sonic Force and Mantronix carried the desire to explore in their music, avoiding the more organic, tribal sounds, and opting instead for the full electronic array. A fusion of German, mathematical, electronic, experimentalism with hip hop urban culture. Labels such as Underground Resistance, Celluloid, Toughcity and Central Records (Germany). Artists who helped move the sound along and continue to do so include Futura 2000 (Futuristic abstract Aerosol artist – DST and Mo Wax covers), Anthony Rother, Aux 88, and Drexciya. Contemporary sounds emerging from Germany, England and Australia, with basic beats, over funky samples, scratching, robotic voices and spooky strings. Local artists include Tee Art, Voiteck, Agent RJ, David Carbone, Steve Robbins, Natural 1 and Zen Paradox.
The exploration of electronic instrumentation could be a good way to put it. Early examples emerged right back in the 1940s with John Cage and Stockhausen experimenting with different electronic sounds and equipment like synths, Moog/Mini Moogs, Arp Prophecy/Oddyssey, Hammond organ and the legendary combination of light and precise hand movement with the Therman. The 1970s gave the style Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Brian Eno, and Phillip Glass while the 80s threw in Einsturzende Neubauten. Aphex Twin pushed the edge further in the early 90s, bridging parameters between the Avant-garde art scene and electronic music developments of the time. Recent artists include Autechre, Luke Vibert, *-Ziq, Amon Tobin and Squarepusher, with labels to look out for including Ninja Tunes, Fat Cat, Cheap, Rephlex, Blue Planet, Warp and the rebirth of Eye Q. Watch out for anachronistic track structures, unpredictable rhythms and fractured beats. Local talent to flock to include Voiteck, The Clan Analogue crew, Zonar, Soulenoid, artists on If? Records, Dave Thrussel (Snog) and the Psy Harmonics crew. Cut those edges….
Also see: Speedcore/Drillcore/Hakke Gabba/Deathcore
Minimum of 190 bpm, very abusive, satanic, guitars sampled from 80s metal bands, gabba is one of the styles that’s guaranteed to scare your parents. The death metal of techno progression and lying somewhere in between Hardcore and Happy Hardcore, Gabba, pronounced “Hubba”, means a group or posse. Although not so abundant these days, a quick journey to Scotland or the Netherlands might prove us wrong. Up-tempo, energetic racing hard beats, with lots of big destroyed stabs, often fused with acid, scary vocals. Check out Industrial Strength, Mokum, Midtown and some early Force Inc releases. Tracks like ‘Extreme terror’ – DJ Skinhead, and ‘Bodyhammer’ – Speed Freak, as well as locals Nasenbluten and Hellraiser. Some artists include: Delta 9, Rob Gee, Speed Freak and DJ Skinhead. Check out these labels: Shockwave, Industrial Strength, ID&T; and Rotterdam(early releases).
Speedcore – Ridiculously fast tempo. Varies from 400bpm +. Intense distortion. Like a progression of gabba. Try ‘Lunatic’ by Wendy Milan and Speedfreak. Drillcore – Like speedcore. Same speed, but not as intense. Check out ‘One day in the woods’ by the Mooses on Acid. Hakke Gabba – Lots of Dutch people yelling certain words with an intense description of soccer and pure stupidity for the humorous frame of mind. Meant to make you laugh and move. ‘Oranje Boven’ by Euromasters. Deathcore – Purely satanic, and dark. Designed to scare the shit out of people. ‘Dominee Dimitri’ by De Klootzakken, very ‘-ist’ about everything…
Also see: Speed Garage/Hard Garage/Funk Garage/Underground Garage
A fusion of American (centralized in NY) and English influences. Garage came about for people who love vocals, soulful beats and sounds. It uses the voice as the key element to carry the message rather than concentrating on the complex percussion or sounds. This scene was low-key in the US until the UK got into it. Labels such as Nu Groove and Strictly Rhythm and artists like Kevin Saunderson pushed this sound. Locally Guy Uppiah has been on the tip since day one, but nowadays Garage can be heard in a lot of clubs and is played by numerous recognized DJs.
Speed Garage – Faster version, with phat bass lines. For example, ‘RIP Groove’ – Double 99 and Armand Van Helden’s mix of CJ Bolland’s ‘Sugar Daddy’ are a good description. Hard Garage – Harder, more intense takes on the above ideas, a little more vehement on the brain side. Funk Garage – Just that…full, fat grooves with a hard crunchy feel. Underground Garage – The most recent progression of speed garage but a bit more pure sounding than its happier, funkier counterpart.
Not so much a style as a media construct, emerging from the legendary Indian trance beach parties where people from all around the world brought in their tapes, DAT and recordings to meld and fuse into one big international sound. A good description of the sound is the use of the Arabic scale; a sequence of flowing notes that are continually entwining to give that ‘psychedelic’ feel. These sounds and frequencies ‘mess with your head’. A lot of lovers of tweaking acid have turned to Goa trance and other psychedelic genres due to the similarities of the high-end, piercing sounds. Very catchy melodies are quite common which could be the reason this style hit the charts in some Arabic regions. Sits around 130-155 bpm. Tracks take you on a 9-15 minute journey rather than relying on the DJ mixing in the sounds which is why this was one of the first styles to push the digital experience with DAT recordings and CDs instead of the traditional analogue format of records. The sound peaked circa 1993/94. Artists like Juno Reactor, Astral Projection, Etnica, Kox Box and labels such as Flying Rhino, Dragonfly, TIP, Trust in Trance and Transient set the trend for the future of goa. Tracks such as ‘Shiva’ – Outdoor, ‘Tribute’ – Etnica, ‘Let there be light’ – Astral Projection and ‘Mars need Women’ – Doof, are prime examples. Local label Psy Harmonics displayed some of the early sounds played on the beaches of Goa. Check out Mark Hogan, Lee Harvey CDJay for goa indulgence.
With stompin’ solid old school rave sounds, hardcore picked up on the old techno/rave sounds but at double speed and double the intensity. Originating from Rotterdam and Scotland, hardcore was for the headstrong techno heads that wanted things to go a little harder and faster. Elements of hardcore’s sound included distorted drums, harsh synths, and samples o MCs and the crowd to give that live atmosphere simulated in your bedroom. Started off at the more traditional 120-140 BPM then escalated to sit around the 200 bpm mark, but that did not stop the producers from hitting the 300 bpm spot, or even 1000 bpm!! One of the first styles to trademark the technique of speeding up tracks to make your body work harder. Tracks like ‘The Future’ by Niteraver, Dyewitness, DJ Trevor and MC Cyclone; ‘I am the creator’ by Dyewitness; ‘Now is the time’ by Scott Brown were some of the blueprints of the time.
UK oriented with a lot of old school artists creating happier melodies, fluffier vocals and catchy lines. This music is essentially for dancing, overloaded with ‘ecstasy’ and happy feelings, the kind that makes you want to smile and have a good time. Meant to make you sing along with vocals that were so catchy that they put the sounds on the charts. Slipmatt was one of the head chiefs of the tribe. Tracks like ‘Toy Town’ by DJ Hizzy and MC Sharky, ‘Betterdays/Its not over’ by Seduction and Dougal, ‘Rainbow in the sky’ by DJ Paul Elstak and ‘I wanna be a hippy’ and ‘Passion’ by Technohead were highly influential tracks by these recognized artists.
The genre that defined the art of cut and pasting, urban culture combined with aerosol art, dancing, street wear and attitude. Hip Hop is more than a style of music; it’s a way of life. The birthplaces of hip hop are areas such as the Bronx, Compton and well known South Central in the US. Musically it all started in the mid 70s, but the first recording was in 1979 when the Sugarhill Gang recorded ‘Rappers Delight’. This started the gathering of lyrical rhymesters everywhere. Cowboy who was a member of ‘The Furious Five’ used the word ‘Hip-Hop’ which caught on and became the description of the genre. Artists like Afrika Bambaata, Kool DJ Herc, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, ‘Breakdancin’ Electric Boogie’ – West Street Mob, ‘The Breaks’ – Kurtis Blow and the Kraftwerk influenced Afrika Bambaata & the Soul Sonic Force with ‘Planet Rock’. This genre gave birth to the art of ‘turntablism’, a term used to describe a DJ using the turntables and as instrument. Examples of this is a DJ who would play two copies of the same record to extend a two second break to any length they desire, or dropping in a sample over another track. From cutting one record to another of a different style to manipulating records through scratching to create a new sound. Hip Hop uses lyrics as a way to send a message across. But its about freestyling, jamming together as a crew and expressing yourself with no guidelines to go by.
When you combine the flavas of house, acid house and hip hop all together, you get what is called ‘Hip House’. Similar synths and hooks used in acid house, percussion of house and early techno with lyrics to please. That’s right, party music with the freestyle feel of early hip hops lyrics and funky sampled beats. A good example of the crossover of styles is when rap outfit Jungle Brothers and Richie Rich (not the local richie) combined with housemaster Todd Terry to create ‘I’ll house you’. Other big players were Fast Eddie with ‘Yo yo yo get funky’, Tyree’s ‘Turn up the Bass’ and the almighty Mr Lee with ‘Get Busy’. Labels such as Desire, DJ International, Rhythm King and Trax are clear examples of house labels doing hip house. Unfortunately with a lot of concepts, they only last so long until it gets repetitious and hip house goes into that category losing interest after about 2-3 years of strong circulation.
Also see: Chicago House/Detroit House/Handbag House/Hardbag House/Scottish House/Progressive House/Tribal House/Club House/Deep House/Funk House/Tech House/Disco House/New York House/British House/French House/Ragga House/ Gospel House/Hard House/Progressive House/Underground House/Balearic House
Well, where to start with one of the most influential styles around? “House is bigger than Ben Hur” (Andrez). A cross-pollination of Salsoul, Latin and Disco roots that’s resided in Chicago as well as Detroit and New York, house quickly took over the dance floors of clubs worldwide. A mixture o sexy, groovalicous, funky feelings with butt-wiggling vibes and happy smiles. The rhythms began in tribal caves, but the electronic side of things is rooted around 1982. There are two stories of how house got its name. Take #1: One night at a club called ‘Playground’, Leonard Remix Roy approached resident DJ Farley Jackmaster Funk and announced “I’ve got a gimmick that’s gonna take your crowd out of your club and into mine, HOUSE!” What he meant was never exactly defined. Not long after, Leonard enlisted in the army and never went back into DJing. Or #2: In the mid 80s, Frankie Knuckles ran a Chicago based club called ‘Warehouse’. Later on, as the music grew in popularity it became known as house, simply after the clubs name. However, around this time racial tension was escalating in Chicago. Unemployment was on the rise and race related problems were everywhere. In order to help communities, many people held ‘house’ parties in their own homes, ready to disperse at the drop of a hat when the police arrived. The music came from the people, for the people and melded together with many other ethnic groups in the area, promoting a new sound that retained the funk and soul of the original music, but uniting the people. These aspects highlight the relevant details of the history of House music; one of unification, free of prejudice or racial problems. All the above listed stories show the desire, not only in Electronica but also in general communities, to meld together in celebration of humanity and the desire to have a party.
Make of it what you will, but there is no escaping the music. It is everywhere, and undoubtedly the most popular form of electronic music available. Not everyone will agree with that, but just look at the number of clubs that play house. More importantly, look at the number of people who tune in everyday and live this music. It is accessible, fun, enjoyable and very, very high quality. But one of the most important points made to use in our research is that House is more than just the music – it’s a feeling, a vibe, an emotional and spiritual state. It is sensual, sexy and erotic – like foreplay with your clothes on. It is an uniting feeling, everyone on the dance floor connecting for 6 seconds to smile past and shake your hips at someone to say hello. In the spirit of the original tribal music of villages, it is for a celebration, not necessarily a big one but of everyday living. As Eddie Amadar puts it, “it’s a spiritual thing, a body thing, a soul thing.”
To try pinpoint THE people in this genre is hard, as many have helped push, pull and prod the scope higher and further. Labels such as Trax, Hot Mix 5, DJ International, and renowned artists like DJ Pierre, Frankie Knuckles, and Kevin Saunderson are but a few of the names who were involved in the development of this universal sound. Tracks like ‘Break for love’ – Raze, ‘Love can’t turn around’ – Farley Jackmaster Funk, ‘Can you feel it’ – Fingers Inc. and ‘Jack your body’ – JM Silk built the foundations of this genre.
This universal sound has spawned many subsets. The above list is merely a few that we could squeeze out of our sources. They come from all over the world, spreading and mutating with every record played or produced. But all have a common ground in samples, four on the floor beats and a great sense of energy. Take Handbag House for instance. Flippant, light and serious in its mission – to provoke dancers to take it as you will, but with a heavy dash of fun. Funk House has a full-on injection of the funk grooves overlaying the beats and moves, reminiscent of James Brown, whereas Dirty House is just that – grubby, sleazy and kinda like a mechanic on heat. But look at Tech House, a relatively new emergence. This style has more of a techno influence combined with house percussion and funky bass lines. Check out the French sound like Roule and Versatile recording, while in Chicago you’ve got DJ Sneak and Cajual Records. Big time butt-wiggling can be had with Disco House/French House. Often bringing in samples from 70s house, it can provoke flashes of roller discos, glitter fairies or even Boogie Nights. Cool, tacky, Kitsch but away, way cool…Gene Farris, Dave Angel, Daft Punk. Balaeric House, a UK based sound around the late 80s/early 90s with a distinct ‘morning’ feel. Strings, happy sounds and that retro feel to it as you watch the sun rise. Traditional Progressive House has nuances of trance through it, with big bass lines and acid sounds. The newer Progressive House injects breaks and beats into the sound, shying away from the 4×4 bass beats. You can pick up some funky ‘desert’ breaks and some serious phat breaks, but you won’t lose that sexy vibe feeling. Deep House epitomizes the misuse of tags. Whenever you experience those low sounds that make you want to melt straight into the floor, or someone else’s arms, where you lose yourself into the groove – that is Deep House! Makes you feel deeply into yourself and the music. Scottish House I hear you say? Imagine red heads, dark castles, guys roaming the highlands on kilts, but NO bagpipes. Still that sexy sound, but coming out of a certain place, therefore reflecting what surrounds the artist.
Here in Australia there is a unique sound, a melting pot of many different styles, where most labels have an element of house in their releases. Vicious Vinyl, Dirty House and Prefabric-8 are Australian produced labels. Local spinners of these sounds include Miss Krystal, Jason Digby, Liz Millar, John Course, Calix Vs Pitchblak, Frankie D, Tim Spry, Gab Oliver and Phil K.
One must not forget in all of this that an unmixed CD of House music playing while you do the dishes is not the most exciting thing you have ever heard. It is the DJs who weld the turntables, who read the crowd and who take the time to meld all these elements together to produce a night and a set to take you on a ‘journey’ of fun sex and togetherness.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest arguments in the electronic music field around. What is the difference between Jungle and Drum’n’Bass? According to one line of thought – Nothing. Drum’n’Bass merely evolved out of Jungle and is just a sub-genre, like Jump Up, Tech Step and countless others. But, depending on what school of thought you belong to, they are quite different. An older sound, the original sound? But does it differ from Drum’n’Bass? Many artists and DJs will bristle at the thought of having to be ‘pigeonholed’ into either one or the other of these sounds. Is Kenny Ken a Junglist? Does Grooverider play Drum’n’Bass? What does Aphrodite play? Is Jungle a fusion of Hardcore Techno Breakbeat Style Attitude with a Hip Hop Ragga Lifestyle Approach? Does anyone really care? This style is one totally open to discussion, with many people have quite heated discussions, coming down to the most minute interpretations of a certain bass line. One theory on the origins that has floated around the office: Someone played a Break Dance/Break Beat record at the wrong speed of 45 instead of 33, causing the breaks to be more highly syncopated, more furious and definitely more up tempo. But where this story comes from we don’t know. Is Jump Up, with the likes of Aphrodite, U.T.I, Jungle Brothers and Mikey Finn where Drum’n’Bass meets Jungle to produce a new sound capable of taking in all aspects of the arguments? For the purpose of this article, we are taking the ideal of jungle as a separate ‘genre’ to Drum’n’Bass… a tricky, and perhaps brave, move.
Jungle was the original sound, emerging from a crossover of Hardcore and House, with the 130-150 bpm, fast, fat bass lines with more complex melodies, high hat snares, backspins and quite often vocals. Often the bass lines were more varied and rhythmically diverse, making the melodies more of a focal point with not so much room for them to ‘breathe’ in the subs. The structure takes its roots from House, Jazz, Blues and Funk, coming through in an unadulterated manner. Around 1991-92 Jungle came to the forefront, especially in London and the satellite suburbs. Hip Hop was always there but more in the background until this time when these and some reggae/dub influences started infiltrating the sound. Instead of speeding up the records to fit the tempo, artists started to write the tracks at the new speeds of 140-150 bpm with structured underlying rhythms coming from the front. The music maintained the dance party grooves while at the same time pushing the envelope in the development of this sound.
Where you stand on this issue is up to you. Music is music is music is music. For those who need more definition try earlier sounds (and for some, more recent) of Kenny Ken, Elementz of Noise, Shy FX, Fabio, Grooverider, Shapeshifter, Jumping Jack Frost and Melbourne’s own Atom 1, Trooper and Sidewinder. Listen out for ‘Roller’s Connection’ – DJ SS, ‘Supersharp Shooter’ – Zinc and ‘VIP drums’ – Rufige Cru (Goldie).
As the title of this genre states, this sound is quite ‘minimal’. This word is used to describe basic elements: deep, basic tonal, stripped down, hypnotic, repetitive rhythms. A repetitive hook or groove with complex percussion and off timing that keeps you coming back for another listen. Don’t think that the title indicates the effort put into a track, some minimal tracks have more layers of percussion than most other styles have for their whole track. What distinguishes this genre is the hours spent working and EQing the layers to meld together as one. Percussion, multi-effects and the ‘no barrier’ theory of this genre gives it the depth of its character. It’s hard to decipher the origins of this genre, it’s fairly opinionated as the earlier artists involved in creating this music had no distinct title for the sound. Original anarchists include Robert Hood, Mad Mike, Richie Hawtin, Mauritzio and Jeff Mills. Descriptive tracks of this sound are ‘Spastik’ – Plastikman, ‘M4’ – Mauritzio, ‘Losing Control’ – DBX, ‘Minimal Nation’ – Robert Hood with labels such as M-Plant, Black Nation, Underground Resistance, Axis, Hardwax, Probe, Plus 8, Chain Reaction, Basic Channel and Matrix. Today labels like Red Planet, Blueprint, Test Tube, Organised Noise and artists such as Surgeon, James Ruskin, Oliver Ho, Steve Bicknell, Pacou, DJ Slip and Johannes Heil continue to push the ever changing definitions of this and other genres. What can we say? It’s the sound o now in terms of today’s definition of Techno. However this term has influenced other genres and produced such styles as Minimal Drum’n’Bass, Minimal House and the ever-changing standards of Experimental/Ambient Minimalism. Elements of this sound can be heard in the sets of names like Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, HMC, Surgeon and James Ruskin. Local artists who have pushed this sound live include Voiteck with his Truck Music Imprint, DCE and the Adelaide Undefined Recordings crew. While Eden, Boogs, Natural 1, Dinesh and d-JCB have spun their influences on the wheels of steel.
Nu-NRG emerged circa 1994-95 making it a relatively new development. A sound originating exclusively from Europe, it took influences from German Trance, British Happy Hardcore, 90s Gangster Rap, early 90s ‘rave’ techno and a healthy chunk from the 80s commercial dance style creating a hard, bouncy sound with a distinct ‘party’ feel. Ranging from 135-150 bpm, this faster sound was pioneered by artists such as Force Mass Motion, Baby Doc, the Dentist, DJ Edge and Mark NRG. Beginning on the dance party side of the scene, it quickly moved into clubs due to the meticulous production techniques. The music deliberately creates feelings of energy and happiness, varying from the slower club sounds of artists like the Klubbheads and Rachel Auburn to the traditional Nu-NRG sound of Baby Doc or Commander Tom, through to the harder driving sounds of Captain Tinrib, Timo Mass or DJ Choci. Australian DJs and producers include Ajax, Krash, Nik Fish, Paul Holden and Kat. Check out anything on Noom Records, Prolekult Recordings, Tinrib Recordings, and Rabbit City Records for examples.
‘Psychedelic’, referring to matters of the mind; surreal journeys into the subconscious, tapping nether thoughts and bringing them to the forefront. ‘Trance’, an inward state of both mind and body sometimes brought on by an incident. Total and utter mind element music. An emphasis on a journey or a storybook with music, simultaneously melding mental and physical with rhythms, beats and melodies layer upon layer. Many psychedelic artists revel in this aspect, producing tracks both varied and inventive. Much of this music taps into the psyche, forcing an intelligent response while still maintaining an emphasis on ‘The Journey’.
Whereas Trance is based primarily in the Western musical scale, Psychedelic Trance dips in and around the Eastern musical scale, a more atonal and abstract range of notes responsible for that ‘trippy’ sound. Not limited to any time signature, however a majority utilize 4/4 in a sound where the bass line is not the dominant aspect. Listen to Juno Reactor’s ‘Angeline’, which highlights the layering effect as opposed to the bass line. Melodies are also very important, with many tracks having high, soaring, intricate melodies that follow a roller coaster and take the listener with it, controlling your mind space.
To start an introductory journey into Psy Trance, look no further than Juno Reactor and the UK label Matsui Productions, Tsuyoshi Suzuki’s construction, for incredibly diverse and interesting produce. Produced on mainly Digital equipment, there are often samples from nature, high squelchy soaring sounds, not much analogue sound and occasionally a screaming guitar solo…
For older Psy Trance, check out labels including Krembo, Flying Rhino, Blue Room and Pof. More recently, try Tip, Flying Rhino, Koyote and Phantasm. Check out: X-Dream, Kox Box, Sid Shanti, Psychaos, Shakta and of course Tsuyoshi Suzuki. Local artists who write Psy Trance or might include Psy Trance in thier sets include Spock, Sugar, Andrew Haig, Nirav and Mark Hogan.
Well, where do you start with the title of a genre so commonly utilized? From ‘minimalist metallic darkness’ to ‘euro trancey commercial dance’, everyone is using and abusing the term ‘Techno’ by generalizing assorted electronic sounds.
In the beginning, there was one style of music labeled ‘Techno’, originating from Detroit. Old college buddies Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May set the foundations in the early 80s. The origins and innovators of techno are debatable issues but no-one can deny the heavy influence of early 70s electronic outfits like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre. This premiere style was dedicated to non-formulated electronic experimentation with the ethos that there were no guidelines. With stabby synths over melodic chords, this sound thrived on the layers of complex percussion rather than traditional quantitized patterns. Perhaps that’s why it caught on so quickly, with a fresh and exciting sound so different to anything else at the time.
Big tracks that hit off this sound were Derrick May’s ‘Nude Photo’,’The Dance’ and the phenomenal ‘Strings of Life’. Other inspiring tracks like ‘War of the Worlds’ by Dark Comedy; ‘Galaxy’ and ‘The Climax’ by Carl Craig, ‘Pump the Move’ by E-Dancer and ‘Altered States’ by Ron Trent have that ‘signature’ that is/was Techno. All releases on KMS, Transmat, Metroplex and Fragile were monumental.
Techno is about the future, technology. A revolution against the programmers, to free people from mind control (conformity) and to unite people through sound, or ‘Sonic Evolution’. These aspects were heavily pushed by the Underground Resistance crew (Mad Mike Banks, Robert Hood, Jeff Mills, Blake Baxter…). Tresor, Nova Mute, Plus 8 and other labels were the breeding ground for inspirational names such as Eddie Flashin’ Fowlkes, Richie Hawtin, Kenny Larkin, Joey Beltram, Steve Bicknell, Dan Bell, John Acquaviva, Speedy J, Jay Denham, Terry Oldham, Claude Young and Orlando Voorn. Locally, people who pushed the sound of Techno include Voiteck, Natural 1, Jeff Tyler, Hess, Eden and Adelaide’s HMC.
Some might call this ‘rave’ music…
By 89/90 house parties moved into warehouses. Energy flowed into the music, talc powder covered the floor, and ecstasy really kicked off and the term ‘rave’ (yep, THAT word) became the standard name of all large scale events as well as the music that was represented at them. The standard sound of techno became influenced from areas such as Belgium, UK, New York and Germany. The energetic sound was due to its contents – raw analogue sounds from old synth brands [Roland/Arp/Oberheim/Korg/Moog] combined with the ever progressing digital synths of the time. We heard tracks constantly dropping in quick samples of sirens, crowd roars and hip hop tracks; from bleeps, harsh analogue stabs and crazy sounds that you’ve never heard before to harmonic vocals, piano riffs and warm strings. This style had it all. Labels like ZYX, R&S;, Jumpin’ & Pumpin’, XL, Go Bang, Music Man and Rising High became the industry standard. Multiple anthems popped out everywhere: Joey Beltram’s ‘Energy Flash’, Frank De Wulf’s ‘The Tape’, FSOL (Gary Cobain and Brian Dougans) with ‘Papua New Guinea’, Indotribe’s ‘The Owl’, Orbital did ‘Belfast’ and ‘Chime’, and CJ Bolland delivered ‘Space 3001’, ‘Rave this Nation’ by RJs Rule, ‘Tripnotic EP’ by Tripnotica, ‘What time is love’ by KLF and how could we leave out ‘Total Confusion’ by A Homeboy, a Hippie & a Funky Dred, even The Prodigy’s first single, ‘Android’. These sounds were heard at parties like Pure, Galaxy, [early] Hardware, [early] Every Picture Tells A Story and the ongoing series of Belfast. Djs Will E Tell, Richie Rich, Jeff Tyler, Astroboy and Jason Midro have contributed to this sound.
Here’s another one of those genres that’s so general, it’s not funny. Agree or disagree, ‘Trance’ was based in Germany with early settler folk like Torsten Fenslau, Oliver Lieb, Sven Vath, and Cosmic Baby. The elements of Trance are multiple layers, repetitive melodies, quanitized patterns, and sweeping sounds with an overall soothing warm or hypnotic feel. Trance is very musically orientated, a bit like classical music with more melodies and sounds than complex percussion or off-timing riffs common in other styles. It’s that sound you hear in morning sets. Very emotional and spiritual which stays clear of any mozzarella influences. You may listen to old trance tracks now and call them ‘cheesy’, but that’s just progression working. Some classic tracks are the warm sounds of Paul Van Dyk’s mix of Humate’s ‘Love Stimulation’, ‘Hope’ by Illuminatus, Vernon’s ‘Vernon’s Wonderland’, ‘LSG’ by LSG and Casper Pound’s mix of Union Jack’s ‘Two full moons and a trout’. Sven Vath’s Eye Q and Harthouse imprints saw Ralf Hilden Beutel (Vernon), A.C. Bousten (Cygnus X), Gerald Becker (Virtual Symmetry), Cari Lekebusch (Braincell) and Earth Nation. Labels to look out for are MFS, Eye Q, Superstition, Rising High, Harthouse and 23. Other styles like the happier/bouncier ‘Euro-Trance’ and one of today’s popular club sounds ‘Progressive Trance’ have been strongly influenced by Trance. Jeff Tyler, Jason Midro, Astroboy, Richie Rich and Will E Tell are some of the DJs who played Trance in Melbourne, while local artists Mystic Force, The Spiritualist and early releases on Psy-Harmonics and Azwan were big influences.
According to some, this title is a total and utter British media construct. A convenient name for a ‘blending of Drum’n’Bass, Ambient, Lounge, Hip Hop and Dub. Maybe. What we do know is that there’s a definite difference in the use of the term around the world. Here’s what someone said: “The term Trip-Hop was already in common usage in the US to describe a fusion of Electro Acid and Funky Breaks, a couple of years before the British Media grabbed it for definition. Moonshine Records and their compilation series ‘Hardhop and Trypno’ exemplifies the American usage of the word. Fatboy Slim’s ‘Everyone loves a 303’ featured on the first compilation, alongside classic West Coast breaks anthems like Uberzones ‘Synthetic’ and Mr Funkster’s ‘Massive’. DJs like Micro and Omar Santana played and were described as Trip-Hop. The TB303, alongside big fat breaks and old school samples prevail in American Trip-Hop.
Now, to the English tip on Trip-Hop. The phrase “I find the term highly offensive” has sprung up more times than imaginable. Many artists had been making non-genre specific music incorporating the above listed styles for years, people like Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead. This ‘Pigeonhole Defiance’ was too much to bear; subsequently artists were filed under ‘Trip Hop’. Basically – atmospheric, trippy, loungy, chic, minimal groove and anything that you might listen to in your lounge or a ‘cool’ cafe.
Well. We have come to the end of a personal living nightmare. Up. Down. Side to side – now everyone bow down to us as the masters of gentrification! I was in a club the other day, when a woman asked me about the difference between Drum’n’Bass and Jungle, and what was it that she was hearing right at that moment (Fugee’s remix by Dillinga). There was no definite answer I could give her. I fuffed my way through it. But it made me think about the importance of this creature that we had created. Why do we feel this need to define music within set parameters and constructs? Must we be able to systematically file all sounds into a genre before we accept them for what they are? Is it Individuals, the Media or the Artist or a symbiotic relationship that is part of our basic human nature to Recognize, Identify and Memorize? Socrates talks about this fact in Plato’s ‘Republic’. We work out our relationships with other people, our surroundings and nature with Memory and that makes us feel calm in our comfort zones. Some songs are hits simply because of a certain catchy tag. Bingo, comfort zone.
Music is an every-growing organism, feeding off its surroundings with no remorse, to morph and transmogrify naturally with us. Music …we can’t stop it, neither can we fence it in, so we must halt, let it roam free, picking up pieces of other styles in the soft fur of its underbelly. Many of the highlighted styles could be seen as a ploy of the marketing and strategy firms in order to find a handle for the incomprehensible world of Electronica. However, we, the audience are inventing more categories as the music evolves. Names are non representational, a handle to recognize something instantaneously without having to delve deeper in order to get to know something intimately – like our own personal names. We can hide behind them – ‘Spacegirl & d-JCB’ are great examples.
We are moving towards a big mishmash of all the ‘genres’ and ‘styles’ into a form that is completely different. Non Genre Specific. Get rid of Negative Genre Energy. Find some Positive Music Listening Time.
Special thanks to the authors and Tekno Renegade Magazine for permission to republish this article.