Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Phuture
Acid Trax


Released 1986 on Trax records
Reviewed by Moon Cat, 14/11/2001ce


Sploidge! It's funny how often on Head Heritage that any electronic music that is regarded as innovative tends to be very much a "white/rock" thing. We are often reminded of the contributions made by the likes of Tangerine Dream, Kratwerk, New Order, Depeche Mode and similar such artists. And indeed the impact that these artists have had on elecrtronic and dance music is formidible. But I should like to draw your attention to the artists that took that european electronic influence and merged it with an urban funkability that laid the foundations for a great deal of electronic based dance music today.

When Arthur Baker and Afrikaa Bambaataa looped and funked up Kraftwerk over a rap groove they kick started a wave of what I consider to be fantastically funky and innovative music....the era of early Chicago House and Detroit Techno. Many of the tunes coming from these scenes, in my opinion, stand up as landmarks in the evolution of electronic music in their own right, worthy of similar plaudits often given to works like Autobahn or Blue Monday.

Acid Trax in particular by three man crew Phuture stands as a genuine milestone in electronic music. It is pretty much single handidly responsible for the notion of minimalist Acid House. And just as Blue Monday was born of an accident of drum machine programming, Acid Trax was born of an accident of well......knob twiddling. (Ooer!)

When Phuture assembled to emmulate the early 12"s of Chigacgo house bought out by the likes of Frankie Knuckles and Larry Heard they felt they needed some suitable electronic kit to set them on their way. Cue the Roland 303 bass synth/sequencer...nominally used for people to play along to or use as a bass accompaniment.
Little did Roland...or indeed Phuture until they started knob twiddling (nurse!)...realise that what was designed as musicians writing tool, would eventually become the backbone of an entire musical movement, and it may be argued, youth culture.
Phuture had the 303...they had the beats.....now they just needed a bassline. But they didn't know how the 303 was supposed to sound. They had the sequence....but when DJ Pierre kept a 'twiddlin with the thing the noise that kept coming out was just this............squelch.

Thing is........they made the squelch, and saw it was good.
In fact the squelch was the fattest funkiest sound these dudes had heard. So instead of taking the 303 back to the repair shop sayin "Tha fukka don' work", they instead combined the squelch, and the beats to make a genuinely new, exciting and invigorating noise. And cos the squelch sounded fucked in a late 60s kind of way....they called it acid. And lo Acid Trax....the minimalist sign post to a squadgy future was born.

What's to say? It's a funky beat with a massively squagded about and tweaked bassline. But it rocks the floor like a fukka. It is just about theee perfect collision between the acid 303 squadge and a 4/4 house beat. And in it's own way it is up there with the innovative and important electronic records of any era. Such is it's minimalist beauty and funkability that I'm am confident that it can stand with any tune considered to be "important" in the development of pop/rock/dance music.
Certainly any dude out there with a passing interest in electronic music should track this baby down.
Its a big fat squelchy squadgy gem of a groove. The Phuture? For this track at least they wrote the book.


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