Inanimate Object of My Affection #2January 18, 2009
The Roland TB-303.
Its tweaked and distorted take on bass has formed the basis for several incredible acid house singles and when mangled by the very best, adds a layer of piercing, wobbling threat to otherwise metronomic dance tracks.
Roland kicked out this bass emulator from 1982-84. Its stated function was to be a bass accompaniment for bedroom guitarists when practicing alone. As such, it was a miserable failure.
This failure led to its success in the late 1980s as the weapon of choice for techno and house producers. The 303’s unique 3-pole filter and low voltage failure settings allowed aspiring bedroom artists to bypass the presets and tear it a new basshole.
Phuture’s “Acid Tracks,” released in 1987 was the first to make use of the 303’s signature squelchy “wow” sounds.
Hardfloor topped it in 1992 with the release of “Acperience.” The 303 bubbles and churns throughout the track and takes over completely during the middle drop. However, the Hardfloor boys seemed to be more interesting in tweaking the 303 than delivering a dependable 4/4 as the beat slips and slides all over the place. Truly a nightmare to mix in cleanly.
Josh Wink delivered “Higher State” in 1995 as the be-all, end-all thesis on 303-tweaking. The bass distorting percolates and steadily rises to a full boil, culminating in a piercing tone that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Reid brothers shoving their guitars through their amps. Unfortunately Josh would never achieve this peak again, no matter how long the dreads.
The famous/infamous Norman Cook (under the nom de DJ “Fatboy Slim“) delivered the acid house single of a lifetime, “Everybody Needs a 303” in 1996. Featured below is the B-side to “The Rockafellar Skank,” “Tweakers Delight,” a DJ tool featuring only the 303 bass lines from his earlier single. Fun stuff.
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