- A fresh look at original acidic techno.
- Back in 1993, Adam Mitchell released an EP called Cannabalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller that, in retrospect, says a lot about what him and others were doing at the time, and in turn what this new compilation, Acid Archives 92-94, captures. We get plenty from just seeing the record itself: the mix of sci-fi and kanji in the typeface, the track titles—"House Of Horror," "51 Days In Waco," "25 O'Clock Apocalypse"—that evoke differing forms of terror. Put the record on the turntable and these vibes come alive. This is Mitchell, one of the defining figures in early New York techno, experimenting with intense interpretations of acid, the sound that had emerged in Chicago around five years prior as an offshoot of house music.
Acid Archives 92-94, which collects 15 tracks, most of which were released between those years, is a sonic dialectic in progress. The original acid sound, popularised by acts like DJ Pierre/Phuture, Ron Hardy, Bam Bam, Sleezy D and others, was itself raw and rough, but for Mitchell it seems, not raw and rough enough. Increasing speed and distortion are a couple ways he got there. There's barely a kick drum here that isn't frazzled, and we're sometimes in the region of 150 BPM. But what stands out more is just how chaotic a headspace his tracks create. Snares and cymbals are used like rhythmic detonations. Voice samples seem tailored to fracture the minds of addled ravers. The acid lines from Mitchell's 303 are bizarre, cunning or, in places, even scary. It's as easy to imagine people in a state of outright darkened euphoria as it is people fleeing, utterly shaken, from a dance floor.
L.I.E.S. makes the point that, with so many extreme and/or uptempo styles of dance music currently being pushed by a new generation of artists, the time seems right for a compilation such as Acid Archives 92-94. Indeed, there's actually something here that no contemporary producer can offer: the thrill and spirit of an artist exploring an almost totally new sound. At its best—on tracks like "Acid Over Wiesbaden," "Urban Bass," "Swamp Thing" and "What's That?"—this rush is absolutely palpable, as though Mitchell were producing in a life or death situation. This 125-minute collection is therefore not intended as a front-to-back experience (at least presumably). Yes, there's some variation. "Crash Morgue" and "Executioner" are two examples of tonal divergence through different timbres of synthesis. But even in these cases, the mood is still basically pandemonium. All of which makes Acid Archives 92-94 recommended for DJs desiring original acidic techno, or for those curious to survey a musical mutation through the lens of a key artist.
01. X-Heart - Electropolis
02. X-Heart - Peaking Toms
03. Adam X - Faces Of Death
04. Adam X - Octane Propellant
05. Adam X - Unreleased Acid From 1994
06. Adam X - Chemical Spill
07. Adam X - What's That
08. Adam X - House Of Horror
09. Adam-X vs. ADSX - Acid Over Wiesbaden
10. X-Crash - Urban Bass
11. Trope vs. X-Crash - Morgue