If 2016 did not already achieve the accolade, 2017 seems poised to be the year in which Acid House and Techno retake the forefront for DJs and connoisseurs alike. You may have noticed that European label Get Physical Music has started a pre-order page for their satirical hat declaring “Make Acid Great Again”. And it’s entirely true that if you’ve spent any time in reputable dance clubs in the last six months, you’ve probably heard the squirrely synth work of the coveted Roland TB-303 take an energetic and throbbing lead in techno sets the world over.
As the series name suggests, Alien Rain is a stamped white label limited press Acid series that embodies celestial strangeness. The tracks are foreign, frightening, and fortuitous, making listeners feel all sorts of weird. Alien Rain records lack any sort of accreditation for producers and bear only the entry number and a mysterious extraterrestrial friend on the stamp. The first installment actually came out in 2012, well before the resurgence of Acid styles into the mainstream, and with the current fondness for acid enticing new listeners while making old heads smile, this particular entry from 2013 is ready for any dark and dusty warehouse.
The lead track “Alienated 3A” is a true techno purebred that makes no attempts to appease people who need percussion to get into the groove. There is a sole pounding 4×4 kick drum and undulating sub bass that set the vibe from the first measure to the last. The filter on the 303 does not open much, creating a wonderful sense of anxiety. When it does, a very simple hi-hat on the upbeat pays the listener a visit as well, sending the tune into spaceship overdrive – only to land again on a distant planet when it calms back down. Discordant washes intermittently keep up the spacey vibe while the lead synth does its nasty, relentless work. What I love so much about this tune is that the notes in the acid loop itself stay intact for the entire nine and half minutes, which is more akin to classic techno than actual acid roots. Where originally acid was defined by exploratory solos of the 303, this tune causes the brain to naturally pick out different frequencies of the sound over time even when the filters are not changing. This fusion of techno purism with acid bass leads are what make this record sound like an old gem made in modern times. Absolutely scary stuff you’ll want to get abducted to.
“Alienated 3B” has a bit more accessibility to it. The kick drum is still in a straight 4×4 pattern, but is more distorted from saturation. There is a more defined sense of separate sections here thanks to a back-and-forth of the elements. A constant techno clang does, however, keep the pace every four beats but gets louder throughout the composition, and the 303 opens and closes more commonly than the A-side. The tune periodically lets in a sort of gust sound that I would imagine the wind on Neptune sounds like. A cymbal ride sample also adds a new dance floor-friendly dimension to the track, but the strict adherence to the same acid notes from start to finish solidifies the theme set forth by the first on the record. The tune comes off like a soundtrack for illegal street racing in a nebula far, far away – excellent peak hour material.
So if you’ve been excited about the slamming high tempo trip down the Acid music rabbit hole, be sure to set your sights on the Alien Rain entries if and when you come across them. The deviance from the old Acid formula while retaining the best aspects of it make each 12” worth owning.
These tracks are everything Acid Techno should be: hypnotic, terrifying, and of course – alienating; there isn’t a single snare drum on the entire record! As incessant as precipitous downpour, and alluring as Area 51, they’re sure to be pleasing those brave enough to weather the storm for years to come. Of course, they are not the easiest records to find due to the limited run and the fact that most of them have been purchased already. Expect to pay over $12 for Alien Rain III unless of course you are savvy enough to scoop the single copy available through a domestic seller currently on Discogs for $5. Until then, be well earthlings.
Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.