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

Acid House Vs Deep House and How It All Started

acid house smiley

Acid House music is largely responsible for bringing House music into the consciousness of the mainstream mind.

If you enjoy a lot of the popular Deep House and Progressive House songs that receive attention and praise today, you owe some gratitude to the influence Acid House had on electronic music, especially from a historical perspective.

Table of Contents:

Let’s dive in!


What Is Acid House and When Did It Start?

Glad you asked.  

Acid House first came onto the scene in Chicago, in the mid 80’s. Acid House is largely an experiment in electronic minimalism, and is characterized often by deep basslines and memorable synthesizer effects.  And it sounds a little something like this…

The thumbprint of Acid House is felt on all forms of electronic music today, but particularly it is felt within the music of artists operating within the Trip Hop, Breakbeat, and Trance genres.

So who invented it?  Although opinions on the earliest Acid House tracks vary, many consider Phuture’s “Acid Tracks” to be the first, which was concocted back in 1987.

Fans (and the artists themselves) typically symbolize their allegiance to the genre through the use of a simple, yellow, smiley face. This tradition is particularly common among British listeners.


Euphoria Level Red

Many say that the arrival of Acid House marked a new era of music altogether, where artists could fuse instruments and technology succinctly as they created. Acid House culture was a draw, often for those on the fringes of society.

The scene accepted all with open arms, regardless of race, ethnicity, social class, or religious preference. Many have compared it as a cultural phenomenon to that of the Summer Of Love, in the late 60’s.

acid house smiley

Acid House also introduced a new element to the craft of DJ’ing.

Many DJ’s during Acid House revolution reported tendencies to restrain the crowd, by somewhat subduing their delivery of music, due to the fact that the crowd’s euphoria was already brimming at level red.


How Did Acid House Get Its Name?

How Acid House received Acid in its name at the inception of the genre, is debated. Some claim that the genre got its name after the earliest Acid House tracks were initially debuted at nightclubs where the use of psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD were prevalent.

Others maintain that the genre was given the name “Acid House” as a derogatory jab, due to the fact that it frequently borrowed from other genres through the use of sampling, a feature of the genre which critics often point to as a sign of a lack of originality.

club shroom london

Clubbin’

By the arrival of the late 80’s, Acid House music had spread like wildfire through the UK. Clubs in London like Club Shoom, were early pioneers in bringing Acid House music to Western Europe.

Soon, many clubs hopped on the bandwagon and premiered Acid House music to new audiences exclusively.

Much of the media attention concerning Acid House has rather unfairly obsessed over the genre’s, either true or untrue, affiliation with the psychedelic scene.


What Is Deep House Music?  

Deep House music also happened to arise in Chicago, at the same time as Acid House music. Larry Heard, a well known DJ from Chicago, is often credited as the father of Deep House music.

However, its influences are distinctly different from Acid House, and that is easily felt by listeners.

Deep House traditionally draws heavily from Jazz, Soul, Disco and even Gospel music, and essentially laid the groundwork for the eventual advent of Future House music.

Check out this utterly classic track with Mr. Fingers and “Can You Feel It”.

The lyrical nature of Deep House music is ambient, positive, and uplifting, although at times it can be dismal.

Perhaps, more than any other subgenre of House music, Deep House places the greatest value on lyricism. Often times, the hypnotic effects produced by talented female vocalists are heard in Deep House.


BPM of Deep House

Although an evolution of traditional House, and remaining under that genre umbrella, Deep House differs in that its BPM (Beats Per Minute) is much lower, typically registering at 120-125.

Deep House also draws a lot of its rhythmic inspiration from the Detroit Techno scene. Deep House is often characterized as being intensely atmospheric, as its warm melodies are frequently complimented by light-hearted base lines.

Listeners frequently claim that among all the subgenres of House music, Deep House is uniquely “tropical” in feel.

Some popular Deep House artists include: Steve Mill, Sebb Junior, and Jimpster among many others. Deep House purists have the tendency of being fiercely loyal to what is considered true Deep House, and what is not. This is often due to the rampant misuse of the “Deep House” term itself.

Fans of electronic music often use the term to describe songs that are melodic in some way. They are often wrong, confusing Deep House frequently with Trance, or even Chillstep.


Deeper and Deeper

Within the EDM category, many say that Deep House is currently the prevailing fad. In a similar way to how Dubstep lovers will discuss which song’s beat “dropped the hardest”, Deep House listeners claim some songs are noticeably “deeper” than others.

The subgenre shares some similarities with Trance music, in the melodic, atmospheric, and entrancing way comes across.