A new Pack from rack specialists UNDRGRND SOUNDS is bringing an impressive range of house music’s most significant sounds to Live and Push users in a single package. With recordings of vintage hardware within eleven tweakable, multi-sampled Instrument Racks, it’s a go-to source for those looking for classic house sounds in their Live productions and performances.
You can head over to the Packs page for a more detail on the contents of House Racks, but here on the blog we thought we’d look at some of the classic synth sounds captured in the Pack, and recap on some of the influential tracks in which you can hear them.
It’s nearly 30 years since DJ Pierre and his Chicago house contemporaries picked up a TB-303, cranked the resonance up to 11 and kicked off the acid house scene. Here’s the eponymous track that’s said to have started it all:
Originally designed as a bass accompaniment for practising guitarists, the 303’s inimitable squelch is still an essential motif for artists in the underground house and techno scenes today. Some producers are continuing the acid tradition with newer music-making methods – take Chicago’s Hieroglyphic Being, for instance, who raised a few eyebrows last year with an acid-drenched live set he played entirely with iPad apps.
Decades before the iPad was around as a viable synth source, a few simple polyphonic Roland synthesizers (most recognisably, the Juno 60 in the Chicago house anthem by Mr. Fingers), and a handful of monophonic machines helped define the Windy City’s underground sound. The SH-101 was widely used for its pure squarewave and sawtooth tones, and became a blueprint for subtractive synthesizers. Its bass and lead sounds were capable of their own bullish, resonant timbres, heard in a host of Chicago house staples such as this early 90s gem:
An equally distinctive bass sound that’s also part of the House Racks collection emerged from across Lake Michigan at a similar time. The cavernous bass used by Kevin ‘Reese’ Saunderson in the following Detroit classic was later appropriated by descendent styles of dance music – it became almost as important a part of jungle music’s sound palette as the Amen Break.
Alongside high-school classmates Juan Atkins and Derrick May, Saunderson sparked a musical revolution in Detroit; a movement that reached beyond techno into the deeper realms of house. Some of the so-called third wave of Detroit producers – Rick Wade and Live aficionado Mike Huckaby among them – forged their own brand of deep house by fusing jazz scales with the evolving metallic tones made possible by wavetable synthesizers. So dedicated to the wavetable cause was Huckaby that he produced the ‘My Life with the Wave’ EP, whose melodic elements consisted entirely of sounds from the Waldorf Wave:
Thanks to recordings of the Waldorf NW1 and Korg Wavestation, such sounds are part of the multi-sampled Wave and Pad Instrument Racks in House Racks.
While the above analog and wavetable synths made significant contributions to these styles of house, some of the genre’s most archetypal sounds came from purely digital synths. The Korg M1, for example, held several sounds that became synonymous with 90s house – check out George Morel flexing the synth’s organ replication in this dancefloor workout on the prolific Strictly Rhythm label:
The sounds of the M1 and other digital workstations spilled over into more mainstream hits. MK’s remix of The Nightcrawlers ‘Push the Feeling on’ and Robin S’s ‘Show Me Love’ lead a long line of 90s house chart-toppers that boast unforgettable riffs, many of which you can see showcased on the M1 by this faithful YouTuber:
As with all the synths we’ve looked at, House Racks brings their sound within reach in the form of multi-sampled Instrument Racks. Add to the these the familiar sounds in the Loop, Drums and FX Racks and you have a serious slab of house heritage to play with (and it’s even more fun with Push or another controller).
For more info on the Pack and to check out some audio clips, head to the Packs page.