(Originally posted: November 13, 2018)
Good day for self-promo, give it a few minutes:
I keep a folder of my old DJ mixes. I was most prolific in 2011, but they date back to 2008. High school. Messy transitions. Learning to tell right from left. In 2009, a surprise: early evidence of House, music a chasm apart from Happy Hardcore. Early evidence of taste?
2009 was the last time I'd play contemporary dance music. Around then, 30-something European DJs in IRC were evangelizing "Tech-House". The groove of the hour. Tingling transients, little "tip" kickdrums and other touches and taps. Delicately programmed? Or haphazard, arbitrary? Wiggling low-pass filters lift and release the tension. You couldn't design those patches in 1993. Gotta be digital, check out my new PC. Whoops, my sound card skipped.
Rather than tracks layered one upon another, Tech-House goes horizontal. The percussive synths and bass and drums smush together into a single pattern, a single sound-entity, that repeats and shifts. This one-bar-one-idea relationship forms a techno-gestalt which fills the space and from which atmosphere emerges. The crisp, modern textures are icy, unbreakable and pristine, rows of stalagmites, visually verified by VirtualDJ's beat viewer. High pass filters sweep like a cold wind, convolution reverb shatters the emptiness of wintry streets.
Halfway through, the vibe starts to warm. Encroaching bitcrushers; ballad pianos on loop, pseudo-analog bass licks simulate funk in quantized 16th notes. Virtual coziness. Sampled cowbell and Gameboy arpeggios. Polyrhythms break up the bars into longer, more indeterminate units of rhythm. Suddenly we're throwing back to Nervous Records with Juno Sixes and M1 organs and a couple words lightly processed yet deeply spoken. House can't help but pay respect and introspect. And I'd always lose focus halfway.
What did House mean to me at that age? No idea. To what degree was I aware of the artist's intentions? Not at all. What emotions did these tracks evoke? What musical point was I trying to make when I played these particular selections? Anyway, it's not relevant. Imitation works. I played it because it's what I had to play. A time capsule from last decade, but the feelings haven't dried out. We used to make fun of "Tech House". I changed my mind.