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Why acid house is the last thing I want to listen to when I'm on acid

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  • Words: Harrison Williams | Illustration: Alex Jenkins
  • 31 July 2017
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When acid house first emerged in Chicago, the club scene wasn’t ready for it. In Bill Brewster’s book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, DJ Pierre recounted the first time he handed a tape of the seminal acid house track titled ‘Acid Trax’ to Ron Hardy at the Music Box. Hardy played the track, but it didn’t resonate with the crowd. “The fucking floor cleared,” Pierre said, explaining the origins of the sizzling genre. “We just sat there thinking ‘OK, I guess he won’t be playing that ever again.” Hardy would play it again later that night and got a different reaction, but in a way, that initial moment is similar to how I feel when I’m on acid listening to acid house (although it must be noted that Hardy's crowd did partake in the hallucinogen).

During that fateful day at the music festival in those glorious trees, once the acid rhythms reached my eardrums, I had to get out of there fast. I wasn’t ready for it. The aggressive rolling melodies, the fuzzy, high pitched tones – they flipped my acid trip on its head. A soothing motif is needed to stay sane while on the mental excursion of a hallucinogenic drug. Reality is already in shambles, the last thing one needs is frenzied sonic madness! Or maybe that's just me.

But the thing I find with LSD is that it heightens the senses to an uncontrollable level. In the case with music, sound has the ability to completely control the entire experience. Dreamy tracks will allow the listener to float to new heights they never thought imaginable. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, harsh and intrusive music will destroy the psyche and tear it apart, leaving it in utter chaos.

Some say there’s a time and a place for all styles of music. Except hardstyle, country, The Chainsmokers, Marshmello and Nickelback – fuck all that – but I digress. In the case of acid house, a dark nightclub at 3:00am is an ideal place for the unrestrained genre. I honestly love those moments. Recent releases and DJ sets by the likes of Justin Cudmore, Mike Servito, Todd Osborne and Mark Broom work magic on the dancefloor. I love it, but when I’m off my tits on acid it scrambles my brain and I’m left with an uneasy feeling throughout my entire body.

I’m back at the midwestern music festival, walking away from the DJ fucking up my trip, looking for a sign that everything is okay. I stumble on a cluster of fluffy clouds glowing with an array of colors while ambient music fills the environment. I sit in the woodchips, break out my water bottle, light up a cigarette and gaze into the sky, thinking to myself, “damn I just dodged a bullet”. The night has just begun.

Harrison is Mixmag's East Coast Editor. Follow him on Twitter here

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