Electro house music has quickly become one of the most popular forms of house not only in dance clubs around the world but also in soundtracks to video games, TV programs and movies. Its uncanny ability to combine harsh, gritty funk with the four to the floor rhythms typically associated with house have created a hybrid form of music that is oozing with down and dirty grooves.
As a genre on its own, electro can be traced back to the 1980’s and the formation of the b-boy sound. This style of music used beats that were similar to that which were found in contemporary rap tracks, but instead of lyrics the focus was primarily on the break, in order to give break dancers a chance to flaunt their stuff. Gradually this music drifted into the mainstream where it was infused with poppier vocals and appeared sporadically on the charts. Electro music didn’t exactly break through with the same crossover appeal as hip hop, but it has served as an important influence to an entire generation of electronic music producers.
Electro house uses some elements of traditional electro music but it has evolved from a somewhat different perspective. In the 1990’s, some artists began to experiment with reducing the bit rate on their samples and creating more lo-fi vocals and percussion while maintaining smooth, very electronic sounding basslines. This ‘dirtier’ house sound was sometimes accompanied by vocals which had been heavily filtered to drop out the lower frequencies. Gradually, this type of music began to add course synth sweeps and an even fatter bassline until a thick bottom end came to define the genre. Vocals remained spooky and distant for the most part, sometimes being heavily slathered in reverb and delay to make them a part of the foundation of the track rather than the focus.
While the foundation of a heavy, almost sleazy-sounding beat is the primary marker of electro house music, some artists have chosen to play around with some more creative interpretations of the genre. ‘Exceeder’ by Mason, for example, gradually introduces a heavier and heavier rhythm track over an initially light synth lead that itself chunks up until it erupts into an abrasive glory. The use of strings to highlight certain sections of a track is also a noteworthy characteristic of this type of house music. An almost piercing string accent can be heard as a repetitive element in the D. Ramirez remix of ‘Electric Disco’ by Plump DJ’s, an electro house anthem released in 1999.
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