Forward to the Past 2: The Acid Flashback (Poker Flat)

Steve Bug's label pays homage to the Roland TB-303.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

A follow-up to this past April's Forward to the Past, this latest throwback attack from Steve Bug's venerable Poker Flat label narrows the focus to acid house, that Roland TB-303--fueled subgenre first committed to vinyl on the 1987 Phuture release "Acid Tracks." Despite being a quarter century old, the sound's defining feature—a syncopated, modulated, otherworldly bleep, like the bassline from an intergalactic disco number beamed in from Alpha Centauri—still forms the vital centerpiece of many a dance-music tune. That's because, though it may be familiar, it's still a pretty weird little electronic chirp—and it's still fun as hell, a subliminal message signaling that party time is on.

The songs on Forward to the Past 2 are, as expected, resolutely old-school in nature, but that certainly doesn't lessen their appeal to the modern dance floor. The prototypical acid-house rhythmic base—thudding kick drum, up-front hi-hats and more hand claps than would be humanly possible—form the backbone of Tin Man's "Blown," with a chord sequence straight out of the seminal Trax label's catalog. Bug's own "This Is Acid" borrows a bit from the 1988 Maurice tune of the same name—specifically a spoken-work passage about (what else?) acid—but it's exponentially tougher than that long-ago attempt to bring acid house to a mainstream audience, with a relentless rhythm and a touch of Master C & J--style synthsynths? giving the cut an unsettling edge. That Master C & J motif—forlorn, droning and a little spooky—surfaces again in Snuff Crew's "I Can't Remember," where it's buried in a barrage of flanged cymbals and eighth-note bass burps. And so it goes, with a slate of eminently clubworthy cuts coming from Motorcitysoul, Glimpse and Will Saul, Sasse and a slew of others. Despite its alien, sometimes ominous air, this music is as funky as house music gets—and that's why acid will never fade away.