A while ago a friend told me that every London map designer includes a fake road somewhere in their maps, the purpose being that it allows them to tell if anyone has copied their version illegally. One can only imagine how much of a wild goose chase you’d find yourself on if you actually tried to find that road or asked a cabbie to take you there.
I found myself thinking about that when a copy of Perplexer‘s ‘Acid Folk’ arrived through my letterbox in 2011. ‘Acid Folk’ is listed in my copy of Mute‘s Statement 2 2001 catalogue, but nothing about the CD tells you it’s a Mute release at all. No mention on the label, it doesn’t appear to be licenced, and the address for the record label is a completely different part of London from where Mute were based at the time. So I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just the version I bought, or maybe it was issued by Mute on behalf of the label (Deutsch-Englische-Fruendschaft, or DEF) without wishing to draw any attention to the Mute connection. Not much is known generally about DEF, but as they seemed principally to have been a home to Eskimos & Egypt prior to them releasing stuff on other labels, perhaps it was their own label; I’m pretty sure it was in no way connected to the management company, also known as DEF, that Moby was part of for most of his career.
But enough of the mystery. Perplexer’s public face was ‘enacted’ by Marc Olbertz. ‘Acid Folk’ was written and produced by Alexander Breuer, Andreas Schneider and Ramon Zengler; Zengler is most familiar to me as one half of the seminal Hardfloor, whose ‘Acperience’ EP was responsible for stimulating acid house’s second, enduring renaissance on dancefloors. Unsurprisingly, then, that ‘Acid Folk’ should have a lovely set of 303s running through it. However, it plays second fiddle to the bagpipe drone that dominates the track; that’s right, acid house meets traditional Scottish folk music. Just when it seemed that every possible novelty permutation of dance music had been exploited, along comes a track which mixes the sort of happy hardcore beats that used to get skinhead Dutch ravers very excited, bagpipes and acid house grooves. I used to think that you could add a 303 to anything and it would make it sound superb (see acid head Ege Bam Yasi’s How To Acid An Egg for evidence of that); that’s evidently not the case with bagpipes, or at least it doesn’t feel that way to me. I’ll be relatively upfront and say that I don’t really like ‘Acid Folk’.
The vocal mix is too fast for my liking, plus – despite some Scottish roots – I don’t really like the sound of the bagpipes anyway, so it’s sort of difficult to listen to; the Low-Speed mix is slightly slower and I would really love this mix were it not for the bagpipes, since it would just be a constant acid rush. I’m also not a fan of hardcore DJ Ellis Dee’s breakbeat-and-drone version although the rave stabs and 1992 ‘ardcore vibes are quite good.
The House mix starts with some nice sounds, a deep house beat / bassline and processes the bagpipe riff into the equivalent of the euphoric clipped sax samples that used to be a favourite of house producers back in the day. It’s my favourite mix overall, mostly because the bagpipes are treated and not too irritating; I was never a huge house fan back in the day and yet I really like this. The Pro-Gress mix is a bit all over the place for my liking, blending some ear-friendly aesthetics with some deeper sounds to create a hybrid that would probably appeal to fans of trance. Once again it’s the bagpipe drone that stops this from being better than it should be. I do find it quite strange – in 1994 remixers usually went out of their way to dispense with most of the original elements of a track yet here all the mixers keep the bagpipes in. There are other mixes available on the 12″ and limited remix 12″; I’m not that much of a Mute completist to bother with those for this release.
Perhaps I’m starting to understand why Mute didn’t properly affix their name to this after all…
My version of the CD single is now up for sale on Discogs.com under the username nominalmusics. If you’re desperate to own it, head here.
A1. Acid Folk (Low Speed Mix)
A2. Acid Folk (House Remix)
B1. Acid Folk (Vocal Mix)
B2. Acid Folk (DJ Tom & Norman Remix)
A1. Acid Folk (Ellis D. Remix Edit 2)
A2. Acid Folk (Cream & Candy Remix)
B1. Acid Folk (Exit EEE Remix)
B2. Acid Folk (Pro-Gress Remix)
1. Acid Folk (Vocal Mix)
2. Acid Folk (Low Speed Mix)
3. Acid Folk (Ellis D. Remix Edit 2)
4. Acid Folk (House Remix)
5. Acid Folk (Pro-Gress Remix)
First posted 2011; edited 2016