Josh Wink - Higher State of Consciousness

Josh Wink - Higher State of Consciousness

When it comes to the classics of acid house this is a certified banger. Josh Wink's "Higher State of Consciousness" was officially released in 1995, but is one of those timeless tracks that exists outside of any specific pressing, format, remix or set. In the era well before Spotify, the majority of us hearing this track were doing so on a dancefloor, in a mixtape, or over the airwaves or some broadcast set or other.

This blended experience of hearing music could often lead to tracks evolving across home demos, early releases, and then larger re-releases, remixes and re-issues. There wasn't a single canonical version to click and play on demand, and even the records that made it to the various record stores around the world varied in which pressing or which mix was made available. It was, and remains, a chameleon of a track.

If there was a top ten list of officially mandated acid house tracks, "Higher State of Consciousness" would be close to the top. For a global audience, it was more accessible and commercially recognised than the proto-acid origins of tracks like Phuture's "Acid Tracks", which dropped on Trax Records in 1987, and signals the evolution and growing popularity of the genre, as well as the Roland TB-303 that underpins the namesake acid basslines.

For Wink's effort, the addition of a vocal hook, in keeping with the availability and increasing affordability of home samplers (evolving from the first wave of EMU SP12000s and Akai MPCs), is another sign of the 1990s opening up. Where Big Beat made it a cliche to slam a random vocal over the top, the inclusion of (of all things) the icnonic vocal sample coming from Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, makes for a powerful addition. Dragged out into the trippy form we know and love (and no doubt im not the only one to si-i-i-i-ing along in that trippy way) care of the timestretch alborithms of the samplers of that era. Put simply, whatever the mix, it's quite the package.

The various remixes over the years have been of a higher standard than one might expect. With such an iconic and catchy riff the art of the remix is either to go way out, or just to wrap up in the flavours and fashions of whatever the current zeitgeist may be. A good example is the The Dirty South and TV Rock mix which sounds very much a product of the 2000s/2010s, and was a heavy hitter on the dance floors of those years. The additon of a new film clip went the route of "a teenage boy's idea of a fully sick house party with nudity" aesthetic. Given this isn't too far from  Eric Prydz's "Call on me" and Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction", it can be forgiven for being a product of the era's unimaginative pursuit of the lowest common denominator, but is still a strange choice for such an anthem. The film clip was understandably censored in most regions, but didn't quite leverage that into infamy like Prodigy's "Smack my bitch up" or Aphex Twin's uncensored but uncomforable masterpieces by way of "Windowlicker".

Coming back to the original, it's clear that Josh Wink's "Higher State of Consciousness" is nothing short of a timeless classic. The fact that is survives and thrives after endless remixes, and any number of eras of film clip aesthetics, is a testament to the universality of the early Acid House sounds. The track serves as a fitting soundtrack to the many side quests of acid itself, where the "unwanted bass synth" became a legend, become unobtainable (and desireable as a result), and after being resurrected, can be found on second hand shelves for under a hundred bucks again. What comes around goes around. And when this track comes around on the DJ set list, it's time to get your bass face on and get down again.