When it comes to house music history, DJ Pierre’s name is most often credited with co-inventing acid house as a part of Chicago outfit, Phuture. But did you know there’s more to the man’s career than squelches and TB-303 basslines? Later, in the ’90s, he moved to New York and developed his own style of looped-up and extended remixes that would once again shake the very foundations of house music.
Nowadays, record diggers can find these mixes on records of the era marked as “DJ Pierre’s Wild Pitch Remix”. This pays homage to the classic New York party series of the same name thrown by DJs Bobby Konders and Greg Day. Inspired by the way these parties mixed all sorts of genres under the same banner, Pierre decided he wanted to create a remix method that took the same approach.
A hallmark of this approach is the sheer length of these remixes, which often extend past the 10 minute mark. Designed for DJing, these remixes introduced new elements bit-by-bit while creating hypnotic grooves and euphoric climaxes. It goes without saying that many of these cuts are all still in pretty heavy rotation, but just in case you’re unfamiliar, we put together this guide to some of the label’s classics and overlooked gems.
Photon Inc. Feat. Paula Brion – “Generate Power (Wild Pitch Mix)” (Strictly Rhythm, 1991)
The ground zero of the genre. All the key elements are already there: the waddling groove, the tense strings, the looping stabs and the gritty vocal samples. The structure was not as refined yet, but the intensity level sure was. This track literally ran over house music in its release year, and Pierre obviously noticed that he was onto something.
DJ Pierre – “Muzik (The Tribal Wild Pitch Mix)” (Strictly Rhythm, 1992)
DJ Pierre has often said that his wild pitch remixing style was inspired by his preference for layering tracks over each other during long DJ blends. “Muzik” is a perfect example of that. Hear how its elements fade in and out, are repeated, modulated, replaced, continued and layered. It is a master class in structure.
Joint Venture – “Master Blaster (Turn It Up)” (Strictly Rhythm, 1992)
Divided into four parts that segue into one another over 15 breathtaking minutes, this track tore through dancefloors with a massive boom when it was released—and it still works today. Despite its power, it actually clocks in at just 120 BPM, which proves that pace doesn’t always equal heaviness.
Shock Wave – “The Mental Track (The Love And Sex Mix)” (Nervous Records, 1992)
Shock Wave is another one of DJ Pierre’s aliases. This track features spiralling chords that seem to stretch out to infinity. If you really want to make your dance floor go nuts, follow this with Inner City’s “Pennies From Heaven”, which is where the original vocal sample comes from.
Midi Rain – “Shine (Pierre’s Chicago House Mix)” (Vinyl Solution, 1992)
This is a DJ Pierre remix of a track by John Rocca’s MIDI Rain project. Heads may known Rocca as the voice that once graced “I.O.U.”, Freeze’s ’80s electro classic. It juxtaposes his distinct voice with some heavy bass and chunky Chicago house pianos. A very solid combination.
Phuture – “Rise From Your Grave (Wild Pitch Mix)” (Strictly Rhythm, 1992)
This record marked the return of Phuture, the acid house outfit that Pierre co-founded. This time around, they had a different sound that was just as powerful. Blurring the lines between house and techno, it paved the way for the dub techno blueprints that would emerge from Berlin a year later. Also see Phuture’s “Inside Out” for another game changing record by this same crew.
Yo Yo Honey – “Groove On (Wild Pitch)” (Jive, 1993)
To understand how radical DJ Pierre’s remixing was, you really ought to hear the original version of this track. In his hands, the cut transforms from a clubby soul song into a hypnotic dance floor builder. It’s one of the best Wild Pitch remixes. Pure perfection!
The Believers – “Who Dares To Believe In Me? (Original Mix)” (Strictly Rhythm, 1993)
Roy Davis Jr. was one of DJ Pierre’s proteges. Here he takes everything that made Wild Pitch great and throws in swirling pianos, funky guitars and a mean saxophone riff. This one’s still a serious statement.
Pleasure Dome – “8 Min. Of Trance” (Power Music Trax, 1993)
Never one to shy away from the latest trends, DJ Duke embraced the Wild Pitch style very early on. He developed his own take that became something of a signature. His Sex Mania label also released a lot of remixes in this style. This particular production is rather subtle by his standards, but it’s all the better for it.
Pet Shop Boys – “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing (DJ Pierre Wild Pitch Dub)” (Parlophone, 1993)
Two years after the first Wild Pitch release, DJ Pierre was so successful that he was asked to give the Pet Shop Boys a remix. Like many pop remixes from the era, he didn’t compromise at all. His version of “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing” is a surprisingly storming variant of the original.
Danell Dixon – “Dance, Dance” (Nite Grooves, 1994)
Dannell Dixon left Chicago for New York City when he was just 17 years old. Pierre evidently helped out on this, but there’s a youthful enthusiasm to this workout of a track. It shows how efficient a percussion loop can be.
Space 2000 – “Release Me (Vocal Mix)” (Wired Recordings, 1994)
How does the Wild Pitch treatment work if you apply it to a garage house track with a soaring vocal by UK soul singer Matthew David? It works ridiculously well.
Junior Vasquez – “X” (Tribal America, 1994)
The Wild Pitch sound hit while Junior Vasquez was holding down his residency at legendary New York house club, Sound Factory. Vasquez probably recognized the potential of this sound and wanted a piece of the action. He developed it further by adding ballroom drama and thunderous tribal drums that appealed to his crowd of voguers. Vasquez also changed the formula by switching from a structure that constantly builds to one that has more ups and downs. It was nonetheless just as exciting.
Ian Pooley – “My Anthem (Roy’s Back 2 Tha Phuture Mix)” (Force Inc. Music Works, 1995)
Here’s another remix by DJ Pierre’s protege, Roy Davis Jr. It again shows that he thoroughly understood how to create the tension at the heart of the wild pitch sound. Its slightly more techno-edged ten minutes seem to fly by, and it’s kind of disappointing that this speeding train eventually comes to a halt.
The Wild Pitch Brothers – “Mutherfucker Come Here (Wild Pitch Mix)” (Emotive, 1995)
Written by King Maurice—DJ Pierre’s younger brother—and mixed by the originator himself, this record is a deeper excursion that utilizes the Wild Pitch template. Then twisted noises set in and turn it upside down. That bitchy vocal sample is lifted from Larry Heard’s “Premonition Of Lost Love“. It all comes together to make a fine dance floor banger.
Want more sounds like this? Check out Finn Johannsen’s guide to the works of Japanese house master, Soichi Terada.