Acid House Originator Charanjit Singh Dies


A pioneer has passed. Back in 1982, an Indian musician occupied mainly with working on Bollywood soundtracks took a couple of days in the studio to try out a new idea. Charanjit Singh had no way of knowing it at the time (nor did anyone else), but that little experiment quietly made electronic musical history. With the disco sounds of the day reverberating in his ears, Singh decided to try putting together a blend of Indian music and electronic dance music, ending up with a quirky crossover sound that not only burned down boundaries, it prefigured an entire movement. It turns out that the arsenal Singh employed on this project included the Roland TR-808 and TB-303 as well as a Jupiter 8 synth — in other words, the same gear that would become part of the essential toolkit for acid house years down the road.

Though Singh’s album Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, with its Eastern-tinged, minimalist sound, had laid the groundwork for what would become acid house, it remained an obscurity for decades. It’s not like the early acid house artists looked to it as a blueprint; initially most probably weren’t even aware of its existence. But when it was finally reissued in 2010, people began playing catch-up and realizing just how far ahead of his time the man from Mumbai was. On July 3, Charanjit Singh passed away at his Mumbai home at the age of 74.

Jim Allen

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