Moods On: Acid House

Published on 2018-03-12

Something new in the air for you bbs ~ "Moods On" will be an option for featured Moods mix masters to highlight and elevate a specific genre they feel pointed them toward (or around) techno. For March, fabi0la's highlighting acid house, the peculiar (step?) parent of techno, born during the height of the Chicago house scene in the 1980s and finding its own foothold as a (sub) genre in its own right in Detroit, the UK, and beyond.


An exclusive early look at a new acid house track from fabi0la to get your ears in the classroom.

The highlights of the subgenre are all in her newest release: the infamous sound, often oxymoronically called a squelch, made by a specific instrument: the 303. For specification's sake, fabi0la used the Cyclone Analogic Bass Bot TT-303 MK2 Analog Synthesizer, a recent iteration of the original 1981 Roland TB-303  by Tadao Kikumoto. The instrument became the staple sound maker for anyone wanting to move beyond traditional instrumentation and create more squirmy, sci-fi environments. It's often paired with growling basslines, claps, snappy snares, a clave or two, and a heavy hand in hi hats and cymbals.

fabi0la's artwork also embraces the use of the smiley face -- a bit of a visual identifier of the genre and subculture in the UK as the genre took off in the early 1990s. It's still used today to locate a shared community knowledge of the subgenre's past, a culture of respect and positivity, and open mindedness to psychedelics like acid (the name's origin).

There are some essential reads on acid house if y'all want to learn more. Some agree and disagree on its influence and position historically, including whether  acid house was the precursor to techno or whether it is its own distinct and separate dialect (and not, say, just a "transitional" genre). Some places to get started:

Luke Bainbridge's The Story of Acid House, with a deep dive into the scene's influence in the UK.

Zella Nealley's Acid House: The Bith of the Rave Scene.

The late Dan Sicko's Techno Rebels, which is generally a must-read for anyone and everyone interested in electronic music history. 

And, obviously, the Roland TB-303 manual (and where to buy one).

Image Cc Fabiola Belaen (2018).