phuture acid tracks

When DJ Pierre stumbled across a little grey box in a thrift store in Chicago in 1987, nobody knew the musical revolution he was about to set in motion. Pierre picked up the Roland TB-303–a bass synthesizer and sequencer originally designed to be a backing instrument for rock bands–for a mere $40 and began fiddling with the various knobs and buttons to see what the thing was capable of. Before long Pierre was coaxing squelchy bleeps and bloops out of the device that sounded like nothing he’d ever heard before. He took the 303 back to his friends Spanky and Herb J, who together with Pierre formed the group Phuture. They immediately got to work on a new tune featuring the funny squeaky bass lines, and the result? Acid Tracks, the first acid house jam to hit the streets.

The Chicago club scene, the birthplace of house music, blew up with the new sound. DJs and producers, spurred by the ability to create mind-bending new tracks on a relatively affordable budget, began cranking out acid house jams and the movement had begun. The sound quickly spread out from Chicago around the United States and soon made its way across the pond to the United Kingdom. There, the squelchy bass lines found their way into the British mainstream and the acid house movement exploded with the burgeoning rave scene. Soon, parties featuring the trademark acid smiley face were popping up all around the UK and fast spreading across the globe. The music, coupled with the re-popularization of the club drug ecstasy, spurred rave culture to new heights and media attention by the early 90s, which led to a crackdown on electronic music party culture that forced the scene back into the underground for the next decade.

Today, the sound of the 303 is as popular as ever and acid house remains a staple sound in electronic music. Take a listen to the tune that started it all below, and watch a short interview clip with DJ Pierre himself, then use your newfound knowledge to keep your ears peeled for the acid sound in the tracks of today and tomorrow.

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