Mysterons Invade the Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93

April 10, 2014


The most ponderously titled acid house compilation I own has to be Soul Jazz Records presents ACID: Mysterons Invade the Jackin’ Zone: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1986-93. No less than two subtitles denote the sounds you will find inside where “Chicago Acid and Experimental House Vol. 2” would have sufficed (“Vol 1” was the equally ponderously titled, Soul Jazz Records presents ACID: Can You Jack?: Chicago Acid and Experimental House 1985-95). Well, top-marks for creativity.


And creative the 2-disc cardboard clam-shell box certainly is. Not only is the set accompanied by three “collectible” postcards, it includes a somewhat impenetrable graphic novel depicting what appears to be a sci-fi reimagining of the history of Chicago house and the eventual worldwide acid house phenomenon. Unfortunately,  the limp narrative is oddly confusing and a straight, factual history of house would have been more enjoyable than the ambiguous goals of the alien sound lords. I’m not sure if they’re meant to be villains or saviors, but it seems like house music something to be… feared?

Ultimately, what all the ephemera adds up to is polishing a turd. Spread across the two CDs are nearly enough solid tracks to populate a decent single-disc compilation. Points could be given to the compilers for including some obscure, deep cuts but many of these are substandard even by the low bar set for acid house compilations.

As happens with any pop-culture fad, between 1988 and 1990 there were a myriad of acid house comps rushed to market hoping to cash-in on the craze. For the most part, you can excuse the filler on those as they are at least artifacts of the time and possess an inherent charm. They somehow drip with nostalgia and any holes in the track listings can be put down to the fact some of the genre’s top jams hadn’t even been released yet. Having the benefit of historic perspective, recent acid house compilations tend to do a better job cherry-picking tracks. True, some err on the side of “hits”, but they generally lack filler.

Seeing as some obvious care and passion went into the presentation of this package—the love for the music is truly palpable—it’s surprising how many lackluster tracks make up the compilation. More surprising is how Disc One is top-loaded with these sub-par sonics. Again, kudos to the compilers for breaking with tradition and making Disc Two the stronger program. An argument could be made for the inclusion of Acid Wash‘s annoyingly skittery “Hallucinate” as it highlights the trademark squelchy acid bass in the extreme—and demonstrates how not all house has a straight four-on-the-floor beat—but it’s a baffling choice for an opening salvo. Furthermore, there is no excuse for including “I Believe” by A Blackman, A Blackman and Another Blackman (track 4) as it’s perhaps, hands down, the genre low-water mark. I’ve logged three attempts over two days and I have yet to listen to the track all the way through. It’s cringe-worthy to the point of causing me mild anxiety and slight nausea.

Once you get over those humps, the ride is smooth enough. Almost too smooth. The majority of the tracks pleasantly wash over you without leaving so much as a soapy film behind. There’s a reason most of these tracks haven’t ended up on collections with words like Classics or Essential in the titles. These are deep cuts for serious fan who has the essential trophies and seeks to fill their bag with some more elusive quarry.

And by that yardstick, it’s perfectly acceptable.

  • Year released: 2013
  • General Music Rating: ***
  • Hits Rating: *
  • Deep Cuts Rating: *****
  • Packaging/Artwork: **** (based on the graphic novel/postcards, not the boxy mess of the cover layout)
  • Liner notes: *






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