What does it sound like?:
House represents the democratisation of Disco. We have to thank The Roland Corporation, a Japanese electronics company, whose relatively inexpensive equipment, the TR-808 drum machine, the TB-303 bass synthesiser and the JX-3P synthesiser provide its signature sound. A relentless 4/4 rhythm, with an off-beat electronic hi-hat, is embellished by deep bass and keyboard textures. Vocals aren’t essential but can easily be patched on from samples. Any DJ worth their salt could make records very cheaply and very quickly in their own homes (hence the term ‘House’).
This isn’t music for selling records or sounding good on the radio. Its purpose is to get the dance floor moving, each DJ having their own unique repertoire of tracks, a repertoire that changed every week. House is disposable and without any subtlety or artifice. It stimulates the communal activity of throwing your limbs about, without embarrassment, in a seething cauldron of a mass of likeminded souls as the bass thumps through your chest. Under those circumstances, House Music can be euphoric, especially when fuelled by the scene’s favoured drug, ecstasy.
The last thing you should do is sit down and listen to a 36 track 3CD box set.
Graeme Park has lovingly compiled this one encompassing House’s early days of the eighties when it was at its most raw and basic, yet fresh and exciting. He was an enthusiast from the start and had a long residence at the Hacienda. He’s chosen less well known artists on the whole but there is still room for people like Chip E, Kevin Saunderson, Ten City and Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk. If you are throwing a party for people in their late forties or early fifties and you can get hold of some nice Es, you’d be onto a winner. Otherwise, the interminable thud and lack of anything resembling a melody is exhausting. There is no real development of the music from the earliest track to the last and hardly any variation away from the Roland sound palette. Most of the creativity is focussed on coming up with bizarre artist names, few of whom crossed over into the mainstream. Nothing resembles the soulfulness of CeCe Peniston or possesses the sensuous touch of Frankie Knuckles. Maybe we’ll be treated their work in the implied future Volumes.
If you are new to the pleasures of House Music, this compilation isn’t the place to start. Try Ministry Of Sound’s I Love House or reach for the master himself, Frankie Knuckles – House Masters.
What does it all *mean*?
There is a time and place for everything. That’s especially true of this early era of House.
Goes well with…
If you aren’t having a party, you need a car. House is perfect driving music as it doesn’t distract attention from the road.
Might suit people who like…
Dancing or pushing peddle to the metal.