Intelligent dance music

IDM, short for intelligent dance music, is an electronic music genre which began as a style of techno in the early 1990s and moved on to include the textures and sound manipulation methods of Musique concrète and early, "true" industrial bands such as Coil and Nurse With Wound. Unlike the driving, pounding sound of dancefloor techno, IDM is more cerebral, usually being quite a bit slower, more melodic, less aggressive, and more artistic, quirky and improvisational. It is sometimes informally called intelligent techno, listening techno, art techno, experimental techno, or braindance, a term coined by Aphex Twin's Rephlex Records. The genre was also known for a while as electronica, though that term now encompasses many forms of electronic music from big beat to acid house.



According to its proponents, IDM represents a forward-thinking, experimental arm of techno, taking electronic music in various new directions. Some IDM is influenced by earlier styles of music: for example the music of B12, Kirk DeGiorgio, and others seems inspired by jazz. Other influences include musique concrète and avant-garde classical composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis; and early hip-hoppers like Mantronix.

The initials IDM appeared in music magazines during the genre's first wave in 1992-1993, but didn't really stick until the formation of the IDM mailing list on the Internet in August 1993. At that time, the discussion list's focus was the progressive electronic music of Richard D. James, Autechre, and other artists featured on the influential Warp label's Artificial Intelligence compilations. The second compilation in the series, released in 1994, even featured various postings from the list incorporated into the typographic artwork in the sleeve notes.

Lesser-known at the time, but equally influential and highly regarded today, are the artists that were on Kirk Degiorgio's A.R.T. and Op-Art labels, and the Likemind label, including Degiorgio himself under various names (As One, Future/Past, Esoterik), Steve Pickton (Stasis), and Nurmad Jusat (Nuron).

The majority of IDM's early pioneers were based in Great Britain, but a few artists, such as Sun Electric from Berlin, hailed from other countries.

Spread of IDM

While mainly British based during the early-to-middle 1990s, IDM spread somewhat in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with a diverse array of styles being combined in new ways by a growing stable of artists across the globe.

In particular, during this period, IDM production greatly increased in the United States. One of the more notable hubs of activity was Miami, Florida, with labels like Schematic, Merck Records, and The Beta Bodega Coalition sprouting up and releasing material by artists such as Phoenecia, Dino Felipe, Machinedrum, and Proem. Another bourgening scene was the Chicago/Milwaukee area, with labels such as Addict, Chocolate Industries, Hefty, and Zod supporting artists like Doormouse and Emotional Joystick.

Criticisms of the name

The term "intelligent dance music" is often criticized for not being an actual description of the music genre. Whether or not intelligence or dancing are involved, or whether everybody else's music is not intelligent, in particular, the name was apparently more memorable than other competing phrases (see: memetic replicator). This is probably due in large part to the high volume of the aforementioned IDM mailing list. Later, Otto Von Schirach aided the replication of the "IDM" meme by mockingly shouting "IDM" repeatedly on the first track of the EP compilation album "Chopped Zombie Fungus". Detractors of the phrase have occasionally used the term "dolphin music" as a disparaging alternative to "intelligent".

Sound production in IDM

Early IDM was produced much like other forms of techno music at the time, using hardware drum machines and rackmounted equipment, possibly all sequenced by MIDI. Since the late 1990s, however, IDM has been primarily produced on computers, using advanced sequencing programs such as Cubase and advanced synthesis programs such as Reaktor and Max/MSP.

The effects processors included with the most popular sound programs cause many IDM groups to use them, unwillingly creating some common features which many listeners find to be clichéd sounds in the genre. One such example is the use of the "sonic decimator" effect, an effect where the sampling rate of a sample can be adjusted in real time, creating a "low fi" effect.

Many contemporary IDM live performances are played entirely on a laptop computer or with a "groove box" such as the Roland MC-909. In a live performance, the actual amount of "performing" as opposed to "playing back a pre-arranged sequence" varies from artist to artist.

Notable IDM artists

See also

External links

Major labels

Other labels

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