- 15 wonky TB-303 trips to celebrate Acid Test's 10th orbit around the sun.
- "The idea of Acid Test was originally a compilation where I got people to submit something acid-influenced. No rules. Just something that involved a 303," Oliver Bristow, the man behind Acid Test, told Todd L. Burns back in 2012. The label has toed this line for its first decade in business, releasing some of the finest acid tracks around. What makes each release essential is the emphasis on the in the label's name. There's an experimental inquisitiveness to these records that runs the gamut from the melancholy of Tin Man to the minimal stylings of Lerosa to the electro-leaning techno of Trickfinger (AKA John Frusciante). For Acid Test's tenth anniversary retrospective, we get to hear all of these Rorschach blotches of acid as the label reprises some of its best-loved sounds while still squeezing new juice from the 303.
If you were to find a through line in Acid Test's diverse back catalogue (aside from the squelch), it would be a type of wistful melancholy that the label has perfected. And if you like your acid with colored with deep blue feelings, then there's plenty to dig into here. Patricia's contribution may be the most on-brand Acid Test release to date: a 303 line that sits somewhere between dewy-eyed soul-searching and double-drop raving glides over pillowy pads and gentle chords. Lerosa also lands on sad-boy acid gold. "Uneasy" starts with a Mt. Fuji-style lead before the synth bleeps start lashing themselves across the song's snowy vistas, turning it into something primed for the afters.
When it comes to coloring outside those lines, there's a druggy, psychedelic slink where the 303 moves in and out of focus (or only appears in the shadows, like on SW.'s bizarro barroom brawl, "chalAnJAzzz"), and there are heads-down belters that remind us that some acid is best enjoyed as late—and as loud—as possible. John Tejada channels the tech house grooviness of his Kompakt album from earlier this year while Sepehr and Skudge provide the type of techno you could imagine Mike Servito dishing out in the early morning hours at an Interdimensional Transmissions party.
But if you need to take a break from sweating it out, some of the best moments on the compilation are when we get particularly weird and headsy. The crisp kicks and closed snares on Donato Dozzy's "Morena" make the drum programming as conventional as the Italian don ever gets, but the acid accents on the drums soften their teeth with a wiggly bassline and a looped choral sample. If Dozzy gives us the view from the peaks of a trip, Erika and Marcellus Pittman explore the dark side of rearranging your brain chemicals. Pittman's "Unknown Species" features the record's squishiest acid line trying to wrangle itself loose, and it feels like trying to wrestle an oversized sleeping bag back into a too-small sack while a grizzly claws at your tent.
When Roland designed the TB-303, part of its perceived failure was the distance between the sounds that the machine produced and the sound of a human playing bass. Listening to Wata Igarashi's "Ephemeral," it's hard not to think about how the longevity of the 303 has far exceeded its intended purpose. The 303 can reach emotional and psychic heights out-of-reach to us mere mortals. For the past ten years, Acid Test has sought out those heights and 10 Years of Acid is a reminder of the versatility of the 303 at reaching the hinterlands of the cosmos where human and robot collide.
A1 Lerosa - Uneasy
A2 Tin Man - Afters Acid
A3 VC-118a - Silver
B1 Erika - Violet Fungus
B2 TM404 - Rysa
C1 Achterbahn D'Amour - 7_edit
C2 Marcellus Pittman - Unknown Species
D1 John Tejada - Squillo
D2 Sepehr - Persian Acid Prince
D3 Wata Igarashi - Ephemeral
E1 SW. - chalAnJAzzz
E2 Donato Dozzy - Morena
F1 Skudge - Bite
F2 Patricia - Higher Still
F3 AAAA - Extended Fantasy