View Full Version : The return of raw, analog, hardware-driven house.

03-28-2012, 02:04 AM
It excites me, because most of it is quite good. But at the same time, I worry that house is beginning to eat itself. It seems that when a genre really begins to reference itself more often than not, when it becomes more fascinated with its own past rather than its future, that genre is on its last leg.

For examples, I offer up recent Shit Robot cum MCDE...


The whole reissue craze is part and parcel with this as well...


And finally, our little community's very own Will Azada, who just keeps amazing me with every new release...


What do you all think? Is house eating itself? Or is this recent fascination with its own past just a sign that a lot of the major players are younguns, and didn't get a chance to live house in the 80s and 90s? Or... is it something else entirely?

Mahatma Coat
03-28-2012, 03:52 AM
I think there are at least two movements going on here,

I think on the one hand you have the the whole Chicago revival thing, which has really been kicking off for a good couple of years in a big way

But then you've got a drive toward more dirty analogue sounds more generally. Certainly in techno this has been represented with the Berlin sound, and I think it is apparent in the house scene too with the likes of Vinilogue, Kyle Hall, Fred P and DJ Qu using similar grainy analogue tones in their music.

I reckon its in part a response to the shiny minimal sound that was the craze up until about 2008, people just trying to move away from that; I think you've also got the new wave of Detroit/US guys trying to update their sound. Perhaps there is also a general response to modern software driven production techniques, people just experimenting with old sounds and production methods in a bid to move away from that polished 'cookie cutter', straight out of the box sound elements you hear so much of.

I don't think its a bad thing, certainly not when done well. Some of the Chicago revival can get a bit too identical to the original sound, and I don't really see the point in that, but certainly with techno and house generally I think there's a lot going on that sounds both kinda dusty and old but super modern at the same time. Exciting times I would say.

03-28-2012, 04:38 AM
I do not see this as a movement. Classic sounds have always been with us. That's what makes them classic. :shrug:

03-28-2012, 10:31 AM
Nick, that's a great point and very true. However, since I about all I can say in response is that I think "classic" sounds are becoming much more prevalent than before, and therein lies this movement, I can't really roll with that idea for the purposes of this thread.

Mahatma, another great point, and thank you for the extra examples. I made the thread late last night and I was grasping, trying to come up with some artist examples of the sound that was loud and clear inside my head, but drawing a blank.

I reckon you are correct, that the move toward raw analog sounds is, at least in part, a response to the squeaky clean, ultra bright minimal era. Do you think that there is anything to the idea that, because so many of today's producers are young (relative to house music in general, which will turn 30 in a few years), they are looking to the past through a different lens and are much more willing to utilize ground which has been trodden before (albeit in a fresh and interesting way)?

03-28-2012, 12:41 PM
Not sure... hip hop and reggae/dancehall seem to thrive on rehashing beats, lyrics, etc.

03-28-2012, 01:40 PM
More than just sampling though Finnish_Fox.

03-28-2012, 04:06 PM
Nah man, it won't eat itself. Everything comes in waves, in my opinion this has resurged as a nod to authenticity in the face of all the loopmasters paint by numbers saturated shitfest that is beatport brand house.

EDIT: Catching Fred P playing in Dublin on Saturday. :D

03-28-2012, 06:12 PM
If the Chicago sound is what replaces electrodubprogstep, I'm all for it.

03-29-2012, 05:45 AM
I'll pose a new question within my answer to this thread.

I don't listen to much house these days. When I do, it borders on Disco. Nu Disco? Old Disco? Doesn't matter but it has that vibe, something like soul without any soul, something like RnB without blues... So when I hear that stuff, I hear a throw back no matter what. That craze is waning to be sure, so is this new house trend actually moving house forward again by taking notes from itself (and not disco as in the past couple of years)?

Also, house has been around a long time, do we still need "house"?

03-29-2012, 05:57 AM
house has been around a long time, do we still need "house"? Vehemently, yes.

Though I have no comments on your other question(s). I really need to sleep.

03-29-2012, 07:31 AM
If the Chicago sound is what replaces electrodubprogstep, I'm all for it.

I call it "Elecbro", but I am with you on this.

Also, house has been around a long time, do we still need "house"?

Yes. I'll elaborate a bit later.

03-29-2012, 08:15 AM
I call it "Elecbro"


Complectbrostepaton? yeah…I think i'm going to go with that.

Mahatma Coat
03-29-2012, 09:47 AM
Do you think that there is anything to the idea that, because so many of today's producers are young (relative to house music in general, which will turn 30 in a few years), they are looking to the past through a different lens and are much more willing to utilize ground which has been trodden before (albeit in a fresh and interesting way)?

Not sure man, because I think a lot of these producers are quite old, Fred P & DJ Qu for sure have been doing this for years.

Kyle Hall is a young pup, but he's on the Detroit vibe, so its all about the analogue sounds.

The new UK bass guys are taking sounds from everywhere, Chicago, Detroit, UK rave, but I wouldn't lump their sound in with 'raw, analog, hardware-driven house', this is something completely different. However I would say that their young age allows them to see stuff in an entirely different light.

I reckon with the house scene specifically its not that the producers are doing things especially differently, but audiences are searching out sounds which are raw, dirty and analogue. This would explain why Fred P or DJ Jus Ed who have been doing this for years have only really started to see recognition relatively recently.

I've not been collecting records for too long, but certainly I had a crate full of 'euro sounding' cleanly produced house & minimal techno a couple of years ago, and I was like ' this is too much, it needs to be way dirtier'; I sold quite a few records and went hunting for some new sounding stuff. I found the likes of Fred P etc on the way, his music sounds like its been made and left in a dusty cave for a decade then brought out into the hot summer sunshine to melt & warp. Its a crazy sound I reckon, and the dusty muffled kicks are just monumental on a system.

03-29-2012, 10:37 AM
Ah, but see mahatma, I do lump the Hessle/Swamp/Whatever sound in with my original intent for this thread. Not because they are the same, but because they are certainly connected in that they are both looking backward for inspiration (and I hope that I have made it clear that I don't consider that a bad thing). New disco/edits can be lumped in there too.

I think that there is something to the idea that a lot of producers have been doing this for years, and that audiences (including label heads) are just now taking notice.

And yes, Brendon, I think that there absolutely is something there to the idea that, now that interest in the disco revival is starting to wane, early and proto-house have become the focus of our (those who care about/enjoy dance music) collective zeitgeist :)

I'll post more examples when I get to a computer. Because I want this thread to have something to listen to, whilst reading :)

Everyone else feel free to post examples as well :)

03-29-2012, 05:07 PM
"Respect the past to understand the future, but to dwell makes the present unwell."

engraving from PROPER-002

I put it there for a reason. The way I see it, is that all good art and inventions look to the past to some extent, understand the history a bit, and hold respect for the originators/forefathers. Take what is great, and maybe even take some of the "bad," which is a part of the character... and reinvent it for something new. Most of the American dubstep and cheeseball "house" movements totally throw the RESPECT of the past out the window, hence why most of it feels so empty and unrooted. However, if you DWELL on the past like so many elitists do (vinyl is the ONLY way, analog hardware is the ONLY way, back in the day was the ONLY way) then you have a similar problem, but this time you got a bunch of old coots stuck in the past, or new coots that literally rehash a bygone era, note for note. It makes for shitty, boring, overly derivative ideas that have been covered already...plus it makes you look like an asshole if you can't adapt/grow/change a little...basically, remember the roots, but don't follow in lockstep.

The way I see the label (Proper Trax) is that we're pushing music that holds these values. It's not gonna be slick polished 100% in-the-box tracks, nor is it going to be 100% analog, raw, dirty for the sake of it stuff. I like both ends of the spectrum, use both for production, and expect anyone on the label to have a similar outlook. I've always held a soft spot for old-school piano house, rave, big dirty kicks, 909 clap-a-thons and the nasty jackbeat of Chicago, the melodic dirt of Detroit, and the abstract tribal vibes of NYC. But I also love classic Berlin minimal, electro, and even the early 2000s electroclash...UK acid, breakbeat hardcore, techno, and experimental/IDM sounds. French filtered house (which is directly connected to Chicago) too. Nasty Wu-Tang/DJ Shadow type raw sampled hip-hop. But on the flip, a little modern polish can go a long way to making these sounds a bit fresher...incorporating modern mixing techniques, FX usage, and complex synth routing and modulations. Some shit gets jammed live, others are "paper composed." Basically, it's all about the right tools for the job, and the right approaches to problems--and using what you have...forced limitations. In fact, I'd say that's a huge part of making good music, that is missing from a lot of the polished contemporary stuff. Producers have everything available to them, and get lost in fiddling...but you either don't get any work done, or you make overly complex material that loses focus.

I actively avoid the "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to VST collection and inclusion. I've got a few pieces of analog hardware, Ableton's stuff, and a select handful of quality plugs for when I need them. And I think that helps push creativity, because you start digging deep into what you've got, finding all sorts of new possibilities, methods, and solutions that you may not have considered initially. The old-school had just a Juno 106, 909, MPC60, a shitbox reverb/delay unit, and a mixer going to a 4-track, for example...and yet, some of the classic tunes ever were created in that era, because the focus was on songwriting/composition/arrangement and getting the MOST out of what you had. You can still do the same, but it's a bit better (and cheaper)...but you gotta force yourself to not stray until you absolutely feel the need. But I don't think sticking to the old-school gearlist strictly is gonna get you FRESH results...but the old approach combined with the new technology is one method of moving forward.

I also think there's an aspect of "missing out" going on for a lot of younger producers like myself...I'm not 20, but I'm not 30 either...I barely missed out on the '90s era of parties, but I still consumed the music. I don't ever expect to "relive" those days, because they're gone, done, not happening again. However, I think the feeling and desire for a similar era is still there...especially when so much of the "scene" is so commercialized, elitist, and rules-based. Even house and techno, which many think are soooo underground...well, they're not. Drumcode and minus ain't underground...that's commercial as fuck in the scheme of things. It's all so business oriented and approached from this paint-by-numbers perspective...and people are getting sick of it. The more involved you get into the international "underground electronic music" industry, the more you realize how fake and commercial it really is, frankly. So yeah, there's probably a sort of backlash going on, rejecting the polish, the rules, and the "let's go to this party because of this lineup and fancy flier" train of thought. I can't tell you how many parties I've been to that had "huge lineups" but were hugely disappointing...yet these little no-name parties are where the groundbreaking tunes are happening, and the baddest vibes are flowing.

Rave and jack are coming back, but it ain't what you think.