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HACIENDA HERO

Acid-house pioneer shakes Tokyo

by Richard Smart

The death of music impresario Tony Wilson in August this year led to tributes from across the world, and recently the movie “Control,” a biopic of late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, was released to critical acclaim. What do these two events have in common? Manchester’s music scene of the late 1980s. On Nov. 9, Club Air in Tokyo will celebrate the release of New Order bassist Peter Hook’s second mix for the “Haçienda” mix series, named after the legendary Manchester nightclub, with a night of acid house and a live performance by A Guy Called Gerald.

The club, co-owned by New Order and their label, Factory, was immortalized in the 2002 movie “24-Hour Party People.” “The Haç” became one of the first venues to host house-music events outside of the United States, and accordingly, as acid house grew in popularity, the club began to hold events devoted solely to the genre. It was also a venue frequented by bands such as New Order, the Happy Mondays and The Charlatans, where they not only performed but also went raving.

As with all music forms, there is no rigid definition of what acid house is. But if you listen to a dance tune played at around 124 bpm and it consists almost exclusively of synthetic sounds — and dates from 1988 to 1992 — the chances are you are listening to an acid-house track.

Acid house itself changed dance music forever, ushering in increasing use of the drug Ecstasy, pirate radio stations (significantly including the now-legal Kiss 100 in London) and the “superclubs” that would come to dominate the dance music scene in the 1990s. It is often credited as the music that inspired the “second summer of love” (which actually lasted from 1988 to 1989) and led to the decline of hooliganism on the terraces of British soccer stadiums, as the violent element at football games took Ecstasy and went raving at the weekend, leaving them spaced out during the Saturday matches.

A Guy Called Gerald was one of the scene’s prime movers, first as a member of Manchester dance outfit 808 State and then as a solo artist. Acid house veterans will be going to Air to hear A Guy Called Gerald’s “Voodoo Ray” and get nostalgic for a form of music that was life-changing almost two decades ago.

The “Haçienda” mix CD release party will be held on Nov. 9 at Club Air, B1/B2 Hikawa Building, 2-11 Sarugaku, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; tel. (03) 5784-3384. Tickets are ¥3,500 or ¥3,000 with a flyer.