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|Cultural origins||Post-1986, United States and Spain (mainly Detroit, Chicago and Ibiza)|
Tech house is a subgenre of house music that combines stylistic features of techno with house. The term tech house developed as a shorthand record store name for a category of electronic dance music that combined musical aspects of techno, such as "rugged basslines" and "steely beats," with the harmonies and grooves of progressive house. The music originally had a clean and minimal production style that was associated with techno from Detroit and the UK.
In the mid to late 1990s, a scene developed in England around club nights such as The Drop run by the former Shamen rapper Mr C (Richard West) & Paul "Rip" Stone (co-founder with West of Plink Plonk), Heart & Soul and Wiggle run by Terry Francis and Nathan Coles. Other DJs and artists associated with the sound at that time included Charles Webster, Pure Science, Bushwacka!, Cuartero, Dave Angel, Herbert, Terry Lee Brown Jr., Funk D'Void, Ian O'Brien, Derrick Carter and Stacey Pullen. By the late 1990s, London nightclub The End, owned by Mr C and Layo Paskin, was considered the home of tech house in the UK. On the other side of the Atlantic one of the earliest innovators in the genre was Lucas Rodenbush, (E.B.E), who was releasing records on the US West Coast from 1995 onwards.
As a mixing style, tech-house often brings together deep or minimal techno music, the soulful and jazzy end of house, some minimal and very often some dub elements. There is some overlap with progressive house, which too can contain deep, soulful, dub and techno elements; this is especially true since the turn of the millennium, as progressive-house mixes have themselves often become deeper and sometimes more minimal. However, the typical progressive-house mix has more energy than tech-house, which tends to have a more “laid-back” feel. Tech house fans tend to appreciate subtlety, as well as the “middle ground” that adds a “splash of color to steel techno beats” and eschews the “banging” of house music for intricate rhythms.
As a musical (as opposed to a mixing) style, tech-house uses the same basic structure as house. However, elements of the house 'sound' such as realistic jazz sounds (in deep house) and booming kick drums are replaced with elements from techno such as shorter, deeper, darker and often distorted kicks, smaller, quicker hi-hats, noisier snares and more synthetic or acid sounding synth melodies from the TB-303, including raw electronic noises from distorted sawtooth and square wave oscillators.
Some producers also add soulful vocals and elements (David Chambers), and equally as much raw electronic sounds in their music. However, a rich techno-like kick and bassline seems to be a consistency amongst tech house music.
Since the early 2000s, tech house has spread in Europe. Although it has long remained in the shadow of techno music (propelled by artists such as Adam Beyer or Richie Hawtin in northern Europe such as Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden), tech house knows a huge success in Spain. Indeed, thanks to the expansion of new DJs such as Marc Maya, Oscar Aguilera or Raul Mezcolanza (all resident DJs of a box in Barcelona: the ROW14), tech house can compete with other styles of electro festivals like the Monegros Desert Festival or the Awakenings Festival. However, the highlight of tech house is also due to the promotion of this style of music by other DJs such as Carl Cox or Joris Voorn.
Tech house has become a highly popular form of dance music. As of September 2018, the Beatport top 100 is filled with tracks by artists like Green Velvet, Fisher, Solardo, Patrick Topping, and Jamie Jones, all of whom incorporate elements of tech house into their work. This resurgence in tech house can be ascribed to the recent surge in popularity of analog synth sounds, as well as the popularization of tech house artists in the United States, through labels like Dirtybird and the booking of multiple tech house DJs at festivals like Coachella and CRSSD.
Not to be confused, the term 'Tech House' is also used for a newer, more technical form of Progressive House. In 2012 Progressive House producer Guy J founded the label ‘Lost & Found’ . This label introduced a new kind of more technical, atmospheric progressive house which moved away from the traditional Trance inspired dance floor tunes and the instruments used to produce it, with an emphasis more on listening pleasure rather than dancing. With a slightly slower tempo the music was a more moody, heavily produced type of progressive house. While still up lifting it could also venture into melancholy and deep moodiness. Emphasis was on a heavy use of multi layered spacey synthesizers & sound effects very reminiscent of Vangelis type science fiction soundtracks & soundscapes underpinned by deep baselines. Tracks were long, very melodic & mostly instrumental often with chopped choral vocal samples both male & female again moving away from normal vocals or spoken word vocal samples used on more traditional Progressive & Deep House tracks.
As the decade wore on this new kind of Prog-House became more popular in underground clubs & many producers followed the Lost & Found imprint in producing their own highly technical tracks creating their own individual signature sound as they did so. Not to be confused with Techno House which is a different sub genre of music this new style also became known as ‘Tech House’ or ‘Tech-Prog’ because of the very high musicianship of the producers who made it. As well as Guy J other leaders in the field are Sahar Z , Navar, Blusoul, Monojoke, A.J. Roland, Chris Cargo, Andre Sobota, GMJ, Volen Sentir, Black 8, Juan Deminicis, Lemon8, Matter and Guy J’s other recording tag Cornucopia. Other labels that now specialize in this brand of Tech House include ICONYC, Balkan Connection, Dreaming Awake, Higher States, Or Two Strangers, Soundteller Records, Sound Avenue and Tale & Tone. Much of this music is prompted by the Release Promo youtube channel and is now one of the most popular sub genres of House music.
- Lee, Johnny. "Bedouin are the bridge between deep tech and desert house". Mixmag. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
- Garber, David. "Music Wasn't Meant to Be Part of Burning Man—So What's This Genre Called Playa Tech?". Vice. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
- Morris, Dominic. "How deep tech became clubbing's biggest success story". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
- Aaron, Charles (2000), "Whose House? Tech-house and the quest for dance music's post-rave soul, Spin, October 2000.
- Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001), All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music, Backbeat Books, UK; 4th Revised edition, (page xiv).
- Plink Plonk profile on Discogs
- "Beatport Top 100 Songs & DJ Tracks". www.beatport.com. Retrieved 2018-09-30.