Genres explained: Minimalhouse


For many producers, it's a never ending story: the genre discussion, electronic music in particular. The genres that we grew up with - Techno, Dub, Pop - fade into each other and it gets more and more unclear where to sort own tracks in. While in personally think there are more important questions on this planet, we all sooner or later HAVE to decide about our genre. In the past month, I liked to call my tracks "Minimalhouse", but often they are rather "Dub House" tracks. Or a mix of both.


And there we go again ... this indecision. To figure out where to put my music in (yes, distributors want to know that, for instance!), I started researching the genres I think I play in. And the first one I spotlighted is "Microhouse". In this article, I want to share my findings with you guys.


Side note. Originally, I wanted to film a chapter about this genre for my Digitakt Online Class, coz it's all about creating Minimalhouse tracks. But I skipped that lesson at the end of the production day and today you can enjoy the script of the episode.


Origins of Microhouse


Minimalhouse, or formerly widely known as "Microhouse", was pretty popular in the late 90s and mid 00s, coming mainly from my home country Germany - Cologne, Frankfurt and Berlin, of course. At this time, I was completely not into all of this stuff, unfortunately :(


I found a nice article on Wikipedia that explains Microhouse as follows:


"The term Microhouse was coined in 2001 by Philip Sherbourne in his The Wire article "The Rules of Reduction" (July issue, no. 209). It describes a primarily German variety of minimal house that reduces Chicago house to the triple essence of rhythm, soul and silence, as Sherbourne writes. Sound surfaces are largely dispensed with. Various rhythm elements such as kick drum and hi-hat are often replaced by ultra-short samples, samples, beyond the limit of recognizability. They come not only from the DJs' record and CD archives, but also from equipment malfunctions (glitches like scratching, hissing, clicking, distorting, etc.). If vocals appear, they are consequently reduced to minimal statements or even sentence fragments. All samples are used rhythmically, so that only just a framework remains of the house music. The analogy applies: Soul relates to late James Brown like House to Microhouse."


Malfunctions. I love.


So what is Microhouse ?


The Wiki article explains it very good. Imagine taking a classic house track and exploding it into thousands of little pieces of sound (nowadays, you could say "Grains" ... Then rearrange and suspend those tiny pieces of sound in space, add some noises, a 4/4 bassline, and there you go.


Microhouse was music for connoisseurs, with an extremely complex sound construct consisting of a multitude of layers and fragments torn apart. Microhouse had a much warmer and more organic sound than the techno of the time, and it got peppered with blips, crackles and clicks of the new modern machines. Technoid and at the same time very invitingly ambient.


That's exactly what attracts me about this genre today - the combination of these elements in a rather unspectacular construction.


Labels and Artists of the early days of Microhouse


Labels? Well, "Kompakt" was THE label of the Microhouse decade. It was founded 1998 as a record label in Cologne by Wolfang Voigt, a former artist on "Mille Plateaux", another big Microhouse label. Other notable artists: Michael Mayer, Reinhard Voigt, Jörg Burger and Jürgen Paape, The Orb, Gui Boratto.


Another big label has been Perlon (Frankfurt) with their giant 10 minute releases. I'd really love to see myself there :D No track under 8 min LOL


Microhouse nowadays


Today, Microhouse often goes by the term 'Minimalhouse'. You can still find this great combination of Micro Sounds embedded in rich Soundscapes. Most of the current artists are kinda underground-ish but you just have to know them if you are into Microhouse:


Bolumar (Spain), Akufen (Canada), Roon (Netherlands), Farben (Germany), Superpitcher (Germany) to name a few.


Here are some of my favorite YT sources:


So. After reading my article again, I clearly see a lot of myself in Microhouse. Many elements of my tracks are exactly that.


What about you guys? What's your genre? Let me know in the comments, I'm curious!

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59 Perlen was born in Gemany and lives nowadays in Zurich, Switzerland. Producing electronic music is his passion since 20 years. He performs Digitakt dawless tracks, scores ambient music for contemporary art projects, teaches music performances and co-hosts the monthly podcast "The Life Of Music".

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