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Intelligent dance music
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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. As compared to the driving, pounding, sound of techno aimed at the dancefloor, IDM aims for the head, 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.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Criticisms of the name
3 Spread of IDM
4 Sound production in IDM
5 Notable IDM artists
6 See also
7 External links


According to its proponents, IDM represents a forward-thinking, experimental arm of techno, taking electronic music in various new directions, not just merging affectations of more "highbrow", established forms of music with dance rhythms, although culling influences from other genres does not necessarily preclude a track from being IDM; the influence of jazz, for example, on the work of B12, Kirk DeGiorgio, and others is at times strongly evident.

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, an email forum, on the Internet in August 1993. At that time, the list's focus was on the progressive electronic music of Richard D. James, Autechre, and other artists featured on the influential Warp label's Artificial Intelligence compilations. Among these artists were Black Dog Productions (members of which became Plaid) and B12/Redcell.

Lesser-known, 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).

Although all of the above artists hail from England, the progressive techno / ambient / IDM duo Sun Electric from Berlin are also early pioneers of the genre.

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.

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 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".

Spread of IDM

In the late 1990s and early 2000s IDM greatly increased in the United States. One of the more notable areas was Miami, Florida with labels like Schematic, Merck, and The Beta Bodega Coalition sprouting up and releasing artists such as Phoenecia, Dino Felipe, Machine Drum, and Proem. A second would be the Chicago/Milwaukee area with labels such as Addict, Chocolate Industries, Hefty, and Zod releasing artists like Doormouse and Emotional Joystick.

Sound production in IDM

IDM is primarily produced on computers, especially with advanced sequencing programs such as Cubase and advanced synthesis programs such as Reaktor and Max/MSP. This is in contrast with other forms of techno music, which for a time were produced entirely with hardware drum machines and rackmounted equipment, possibly all sequenced by MIDI. Many IDM live performances are played entirely on a laptop or with a grove box such as the Roland MC-909, although the actual amount of "performing" as opposed to "playing back a pre-arranged sequence" varies from artist to artist. The effects processors included with the most popular sound programs cause many IDM groups to use them, unwillingly creating some common features 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.

Notable IDM artists

See also

External links

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