Acid House vs Techno Music

Techno.  Acid House.  How are they the same?  How are they different?  In this article, we explore these two types of music and what they’re all about, and how they’ve developed over the years.

Table of contents:

Let’s dive in!


What is Techno Music?

Techno is an EDM genre of music that came out of Detroit, Michigan. This took place in the mid-80’s, but it wasn’t till 1988 that people started referring to this new style of music as “Techno”.

The identification of a first Techno record is debated and unidentified, but it is generally not disputed that such a record must have emerged in Detroit.

There are a variety of Techno subgenres, just as there are a variety of House styles, but Detroit Techno is undisputedly the original version. Originally, Techno was a fusion of Funk, Jazz, mixed with elements of House and electronic music.   

Here’s an early classic – Cybotron’s “Techno City”.

Still holds up, don’t you think?


Commonalities Between Techno And Cyberpunk Literature

Stylistically, Techno is often incorporated with or presented alongside futuristic themes. Cinematically, Techno music has been used in association with noir films that deal with morally ambiguous characters, in bleak situations.

Some Techno, has even been mislabeled as Cyberpunk.

cyberpunk anime

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of Science Fiction literature that deals with futuristic, technologically advanced, often grim worlds.

Although they do share some similarities aesthetically, it is important that each be distinguished, one as a literary pursuit, the other a musical endeavour.

Pure Techno is also commonly confused with Tech House music, a subgenre that fuses Techno and House.


Germany’s Burgeoning Techno Scene (Early 1990’s)

Around the same time the UK embraced Chicago Acid House, Germany established a Techno scene. It was not long before both locations in Europe had equally brimming EDM scenes.

After the fall of the Berlin wall, many social commentators regard Techno as a social glue that helped to reunite the German people.

During the early 90’s, Germany quickly helped to bring about a harder, more brutal style of Techno called Tekkno.

Techno quickly spread in Europe, and many believe that the continent embraced Techno music more readily than North America, where the genre was founded.

Here’s some early stuff…

So groovy…


Minimal Techno

As Techno began to evolve both in terms of sound and its adoption around the world, many Detroit producers who witnessed and gave birth to the genre, yearned for a return to the original sound, and thus “Minimal Techno” was born.

Robert Hood, is primarily credited with spearheading this movement. The sort of Techno he was essentially rebelling against, became both sped up in tempo and less soul-influenced, which many saw as an unfaithful diversion from the Detroit Techno that started it all.

Due to this, it is believed that Detroit has remained more faithful to true Techno than any other place in the world.

In comparison to House music, Techno music is generally more bass drum heavy. Techno music is also much quicker in pace, usually somewhere between 130-150 bpm.

It is common for producers to view the use of older drum machines and other equipment as a purist technique, in the creation of Techno music. Software companies quickly capitalized on this, revitalizing older machines for newer producers.

The Propellerheads, for example, introduced the ReBirth RB-338 to producers.

Although fairly well known, Techno has in many ways remained an underground phenomenon, while other forms of electronic such as Dubstep and House seem to have more easily broken into the mainstream.

Here’s some Propellerheads…

Gotta love the ReBirth RB-338…


What is Acid House?

Acid House music saw its inception in the mid-80’s as well, except in Chicago. Compared to Techno, House and Acid House in particular place a higher emphasis on kick drums, and a slower overall pacing (118-135 bpm).

In the early days of Chicago Acid House, many DJ’s had Roland TB-303’s in their arsenal of equipment. Like most forms of electronic music, Acid House is hugely DJ based and designed to induce a rhythmic, dancing response.

Here’s some old school Acid House music that goes back to 1988.

Gets ya movin’, don’t it?


Acid House In The UK

Although Acid House is not as celebrated or widely listened to today as it once was, the genre is largely responsible for the spread of electronic music to Europe, starting in London in the late 80’s.

During this time, the UK media quickly flipped on the movement after initially embracing it with enthusiasm. Headlines soon raved about the dangers of the electronic scene, and at one point, Acid House was banned in the UK altogether due to its excessively “hedonistic nature”.

This occurred, not surprisingly, during the zenith of the movement.


New York Acid House

Around the same time, New York embraced Acid House music as well and eventually became a significant hub for the genre. It wasn’t until this time, around 1988, that Acid House began to be correlated, whether deservedly or derisively, with MDMA use.

The substances Acid House is usually referred to in conjunction with, are typically psychedelics and stimulants commonly used in club scene culture.

Although just about all of electronic music has become synonymous with drug use, particularly in the media, Acid House has shouldered a good portion of this labeling.

Acid House, more than any other subgenre of electronic music, has been talked about in comparison to the Hippie movement, and 60’s counterculture.

Listeners and Acid House artists typically represent themselves under the universal symbol of a simple, yellow, smiley face.

acid house smiley

2 comments
  1. You forgot about Belgium though.
    The part about Germany and “New Beat” is actually also a part that belongs to the Belgian scene. People from all over Europe came to our country at club Boccaccio to enjoy the slow heavy pumping New Beat.
    In my opinion Germany is king of the more abstract Minimal Techno and bringing Electro mainstream (Kraftwerk) (which was not a bad thing ofcourse, otherwise we wouldn’t have all the artists who looked up to Kraftwerk from a very young age).
    In the end it’s all very close together though 🙂
    (side note; check out the documentary “The Sound of Belgium”).

    1. Hey Kenny, thanks for the insight. Love to hear from actual people who dig the music and will definitely check out that documentary!

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