Progressive house is a style (subgenre) of house music. House music is a type of electronic dance music (EDM). The progressive house style emerged in the early 1990s. It developed initially in the United Kingdom as a natural progression of American and European house music of the late 1980s.
In the context of popular music the word “progressive” was first used widely in the 1970s to differentiate experimental forms of rock music from mainstream styles. Such music attempted to explore alternate approaches to rock music production. Some acts also attempted to elevate the aesthetic values of rock music by incorporating features associated with classical instrumental music. This led to a style of music called progressive rock, which has been described as “the most self-consciously arty branch of rock.”
In disco music, and later house, a similar desire to separate more exploratory styles from standard approaches saw DJs and producers adopting the word progressive to make a distinction. According to the DJ and producer Carl Craig, the term “progressive” was used in Detroit in the early 80s in reference to Italo Disco. The music was dubbed “progressive” because it drew upon the influence of Giorgio Moroder’s Eurodisco rather than the Disco inspired by the symphonic sound of Philadelphia soul. In Detroit, prior to the emergence of Techno, artists like Alexander Robotnik, Klein and MBO, and Capricorn filled a vacancy left after disco’s demise in America. In the late 1980s UK music journalist Simon Reynolds introduced the term “progressive dance” to describe album oriented acts such as 808 State, The Orb, Bomb the Bass, and The Shamen. Between 1990 to 1992, the term progressive referred to the short-form buzz word for the house music sub-genre progressive house.
The roots of progressive house can be traced back to the early 1990s rave and club scenes in the UK, Europe, Australia and Northern America. A combination of US house, UK house, Italian house, German house, and techno largely influenced one another during this era. The term was used mainly as a marketing label to differentiate new rave house from traditional American house. The buzz word emerged out of the rave scene around 1990 to 1992, describing a new sound of house that broke away from its American roots. The label progressive house was often used interchangeably with trance in the early years.