Posts Tagged 1980s

Intelligent Dance Music (IDM)

Intelligent dance music (commonly IDM) is a form of electronic music that emerged in the early 1990s. It was originally influenced by developments in underground dance music such as Detroit Techno and various breakbeat styles that were emerging in the UK at that time.  Stylistically, IDM tended to rely upon individualistic experimentation rather than adhering to musical characteristics associated with specific genres of dance music.  The range of post-techno styles to emerge in the early 1990s were described variously as art technoambient technointelligent techno, and electronica.  In the United States, the latter term is now used by the music industry as a catchall to describe EDM and its many derivatives.

The term IDM is said to have originated in the United States in 1993 with the formation of the IDM list, an electronic mailing list originally chartered for the discussion of music by (but not limited to) a number of prominent English artists, especially those appearing on a 1992 Warp Records compilation called Artificial Intelligence.

Usage of the term “intelligent dance music” has been criticised by electronic musicians such as Aphex Twin as derogatory towards other styles and is seen by artists such as Mike Paradinas as being particular to the U.S.

During the late 1980s, a number of UK based electronic musicians were inspired by the underground dance music of the time and started to develop their own styles. By the early 1990s, the music associated with this experimentation had gained prominence with releases on a variety of record labels including Warp Records (1989), Black Dog Productions (1989), R & S Records (1989), Carl Craig’s Planet E,Rising High Records (1991), Richard James’s Rephlex Records (1991), Kirk Degiorgio’s Applied Rhythmic Technology (1991), Eevo Lute Muzique (1991), General Production Recordings (1989), Soma Quality Recordings (1991), Peacefrog Records (1991), and Metamorphic Recordings (1992).

Ambient house, a genre that fused house music (particularly acid house) with ambient music, was being produced in the United Kingdom around this time, by bands such as The Orb. A major influence on ambient house was Japan’s Yellow Magic Orchestra, sometimes cited as one of the pioneers of ambient house.  During the early 1990s, the term “ambient house” became synonymous with intelligent dance music in general, but was eventually replaced by several other terms.  Following the lead of ambient house, ambient techno music was soon produced by artists such as Aphex Twin and Japan’s Tetsu Inoue. Ambient techno distinguished itself with strong techno and electro influences, including more extensive use of Roland’s TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines. The term “ambient techno” was eventually replaced by “intelligent techno” following the success of Warp’s Artificial Intelligence series.

By 1992, Warp Records was marketing the musical output of the artists on its roster using the description electronic listening music, but this was quickly replaced by intelligent techno. In the same period (1992–93), other names were also used, such as armchair techno,ambient techno, and electronica, but all were attempts to describe an emerging offshoot of electronic dance music that was being enjoyed by the “sedentary and stay at home”. Steve Beckett, co-owner of Warp, has said that the electronic music the label was releasing at that point was targeting a post-club, home-listening audience. In 1993 a number of new record labels emerged that were producing intelligent techno geared releases including New Electronica, Mille Plateaux, 100% Pure, and Ferox Records


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The Hardcore Genre – A General Overview

The Hardcore genre surprisingly has one of the broadest terms of all EDM.  There are dozens and dozens of sub-genres but they are incredibly varied.  The term hardcore usually means music that is darker and harder, but not necessarily faster.

Hardcore as a word (in relation to EDM) can trace its roots to Belgium.  A number of artists such as à;GRUMH… and later Leather Strip began to call their music hardcore techno.  The origins of the name are largely rooted in this scene, although hardcore also regularly incorporated elements of house into its sound.

In the early 1990s, the hardcore sound began to introduce sped up hip-hop breakbeats, piano breaks, dub and low frequency basslines and cartoon-like noises, which has been retrospectively called ‘old skool’ hardcore, and is widely regarded as the progenitor of happy hardcore (which later lost the breakbeats) and jungle (which alternatively lost the techno style keyboard stabs and piano breaks).  This is more or less down to the further development of the synthesizer and the very creative use of the Amen Break.

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The Industrial Genre – A General Overview

Industrial music is a style of experimental music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes. The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by the band Throbbing Gristle, and the creation of the slogan “industrial music for industrial people”. In general, the style is harsh and challenging. Allmusic defines industrial as the “most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music”; “initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments (tape music, musique concrète, white noise, synthesizers, sequencers, etc.) and punk provocation”.

The first industrial artists experimented with noise and aesthetically controversial topics, musically and visually, such as fascism, serial killers and the occult. Their production was not limited to music, but included mail artperformance artinstallation pieces and other art forms.

While the term was initially self-applied by a small coterie of groups and individuals associated with Industrial Records in the 1970s, it broadened to include artists influenced by the original movement or using an “industrial” aesthetic.

These artists expanded the genre by pushing it into noisier and more electronic directions. Over time, its influence spread into and blended with styles including ambient and rock, all of which now fall under the post-industrial music label. Electro-industrial music is a primary sub-genre that developed in the 1980s. The two other most notable hybrid genres are industrial rock and industrial metal, which include bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, both of which released platinum-selling albums in the 1990s. These three genres are often referred to as simply industrial.


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Acid House

Acid house is a derivative of house music that originates from Chicago in the mid 1980s.  It quickly spread into the UK and Europe, where it found a home alongside rave music towards the late 1980s.  Acid house’s signature sound is a repetitive early-trance style which came from Roland synthesizers, namely the 303, 606, 707, 808 and 909 models, and adding lyrics, usually spoken and taken from speeches such as “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr.

There are 2 schools of thought as to how Acid house got its name.  The first is from the style of trip one would get by taking drugs like LSD or MDMA, which were commonplace in clubs at the time.  The second is when this first wave of plagiarism was a hot topic in the press and politics, especially in the UK.  The term “acid burning” is a slang term meaning “to steal.”

The first track to showcase this sound is understood to have been “Acid Trax” by Phuture, which was composed in 1985, but not officially released until 1987, but gained worldwide play by DJs in clubs for those 2 years.  The first actual “Acid house” track to be released was Sleezy D’s “I’ve Lost Control” which was out on vinyl in 1986.

In the UK, Acid house was a key factor in the “Second Summer of Love” in 1988-1989 due to the rise in popularity of psychedelic drugs and the psy-influenced music of Acid house, which saw a noticeable decline of football hooliganism and Acid house gave birth to the rave scene of the early 1990s.

Due to ignorance and possibly fear, the media, more specifically tabloids gave a lot of column inches to the acid house and rave scene, with a large emphasis on the drug use that was happening in the clubs.  The news articles were often composed using bad science and sensationalist headlines such as “10,000 DRUG CRAZED YOUTHS” – The Sun, 1988.  The resulting panic by tabloid readers resulted in a crackdown and Acid house was subsequently banned in shops, radio and TV, which was the beginning of the end for Acid house.  But the underground rave scene lived on.

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The Breakbeat Genre – A General Overview

Breakbeat as a term can be traced back to the 1970s with the origin of hiphop in the USA, and the early rave scene in the 1980s in the UK.  There is a lot of argument about which was more prominent, but its safe to say that they developed their own styles in parallel

Breakbeat is the cornerstone of hundreds of genres of EDM giving the suffix “-step” to many of them to describe the syncopated or polyrhythmic beat structures.

Breakbeat usually takes the form of a non-standard 4/4 drum pattern to add creativity to what can be seen as a very monotonous 4 on the floor beat patterns of house or techno for example.

In the 1960s and 1970s during the rise of funk and soul music, bands would have “breaks” in the song where the drumer has a short 4 or 8 bar solo.  With the invention of synthesizers in the 1980s people would sample these breaks, and “chop” them into their individual components.  This allowed the DJ to create their own drum patters, miles away from the synthesized drum hits that the machinery could manage.  The most famous of this is from the song “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons, becoming known as the Amen Break.

Without this particular breakbeat, its widely accepted that hiphop, jungle and subsequently drum and bass would not be the powerhouses they are today.

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Ambient House

Ambient house traces its origins to the late 80s when DJs branched out from the popular Acid House elements of the day and added Ambient backdrops to the usual four on the floor beats.

The music gained popularity in the rave scene for ravers to come down from drug trips to relaxing music in smaller side tents or rooms.

This style was popularised by artists such as Juno Reactor, The KLF and The Orb.  It declined as a popular genre when the artists moved onto other things, and the rave scene declined in the mid 90s.


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