Intelligent dance music

Intelligent dance music

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Intelligent dance music (commonly IDM) is a genre name invented in the early 1990s by the creators of an American online mailing list called the 'IDM list'. The IDM electronic mailing list, created by Warp Records fan Alan Parry, characterized acts such as Leftfield, FSOL, Orb, Orbital, Aphex Twin, Black Dog, and B12 as "intelligent dance music". The term was used to refer to a number of post-techno ["Any form of electronica genealogically related to Techno but departing from it in one way or another. Akin to 'intelligent Techno' or 'intelligent dance music'". Cox C. & Warner D. ed. (2004), "Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music", Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, London, (p. 414).] artists who were engaging in experimental electronic dance music (EDM) production during the late 1980s and early 1990s. [Reynolds, S., (1999)."Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture", Routledge, New York, (pp. 180-205)] By 1992 Warp were marketing the music 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", ["Of all the terms devised for contemporary non-academic electronic music (the senseintended here), 'electronica' is one of the most loaded and controversial. While on the one hand it does seem the most convenient catch-all phrase, under any sort of scrutiny it begins to implode. In its original 1992-3 sense it was largely coterminous with the more explicitly elitist 'intelligent techno', a term used to establish distance from and imply distaste for, all other more dancefloor-oriented types of techno, ignoring the fact that many of its practitioners such as Richard James (Aphex Twin) were as adept at brutal dancefloor tracks as what its detractors present as self-indulgent ambient 'noodling'". Blake, Andrew, "Living Through Pop", Routledge, 1999. p 155.] but all were attempts to describe an emerging form of dance music for the "sedentary and stay at home". [Reynolds (1998), p181.] Co-owner of Warp Records Steve Beckett has said that "the music was aimed at home listening rather than clubs and dance floors". [Birke S. (2007), [ "Label Profile: Warp Records"] , The Independent (UK), Music Magazine (supplement), newspaper article published 2/11/07] IDM tends to rely upon individualistic experimentation rather than on a particular set of musical characteristics. [Butler, M.J., "Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter, and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music", Indiana University Press, 2006, (p. 80).]


In 1992, Warp Records released "Artificial Intelligence", the first album in the "Artificial Intelligence" series. The record was a collection of tracks from artists such as Autechre, B12, The Black Dog, Aphex Twin, and The Orb, under various aliases.Allmusic Guide, Overview of "Artificial Intelligence" [] ] These artists, among others, would eventually become the main topics of conversation in the Intelligent Dance Music List, an electronic mailing list founded in August 1993.

Artists that appeared in the first discussions on the list included Autechre, Atom Heart, LFO, Aphex Twin and others on Rephlex Records, artists such as The Orb, Richard H. Kirk, and Future Sound of London, and even artists like System 7, William Orbit, Sabres of Paradise, Orbital, Plastikman and Björk.Warp's second "Artificial Intelligence" compilation was released in 1994, featuring posts from the mailing list in the sleeve notes. During this period the electronic music produced by Warp Records artists such as Polygon Window (an alias of Richard D. James), Autechre, LFO, B12, Seefeel, and The Black Dog, gained popularity among electronic music fans. Lesser-known artists on the Likemind label and Kirk Degiorgio's A.R.T. and Op-Art labels, including Degiorgio himself under various names (As One, Future/Past and Esoterik), Steve Pickton (Stasis) and Nurmad Jusat (Nuron) were also gaining acknowledgement, along with artists like Björk and Future Sound of London. British electronic music and techno artists, including Aphex Twin, Cylob, and Mike Paradinas, have criticised the term IDM. Paradinas has stated that the term IDM was only used in America.

In the mid-1990s, North American audiences welcomed IDM, and many IDM record labels were founded, including Drop Beat, Isophlux, Suction, Schematic, and Cytrax. [ All Music IDM] ] In Miami, Florida, labels like Schematic, AiRecords, Merck Records, Nophi Recordings, and The Beta Bodega Coalition released material by artists such as Phoenecia, Dino Felipe, Machinedrum, and Proem. Another burgeoning scene was the Chicago/Milwaukee area, with labels such as Addict, Chocolate Industries, Hefty, and Zod supporting artists like Doormouse, Trs-80 and Emotional Joystick. Tigerbeat 6, a San Francisco based label has released IDM from artists such as Cex, Kid 606, and Kevin Blechdom Contemporary IDM artists include Himuro Yoshiteru, Kettel, Ochre, Marumari, Benn Jordan, Proem, Lackluster, Arovane, Ulrich Schnauss, and Wisp. [ [ igloo magazine: Is IDM Dead?] ] Listen
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Origins of the name

In November 1991, the phrase "intelligent techno" appeared on Usenet in reference to Coil's "The Snow" EP. [Google Groups archive of "", "Coil, The Snow EP" [] ] Another instance of the phrase appeared on Usenet in April 1993 in reference to The Black Dog's album "Bytes". [Google Groups archive of "alt.rave", "miniREVIEWS galore (No hardcore please, we're Finnish)" [] ] Wider public use of such terms on the Internet did not come until August 1993, when Alan Parry coined the term "intelligent dance music" and its initials were adopted in the name and charter of the IDM electronic mailing list. quotation|IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) is a forum for the discussion of what has been termed 'intelligent' music – that is, music that moves the mind, not just the body. There is no specific definition of intelligence in music, however, artists that I see as appropriate are FSOL, Orb, Orbital, Richard James (aka Aphex Twin), Black Dog, B12, and various others from Warp's "Artificial Intelligence" series. Of course, the list is open to all interpretations of intelligent dance music.|Alan Parry|IDM mailing list announcement posted on alt.rave, Aug. 1993 [Google Groups archive of "alt.rave", "list announcement: IDM" [] ]

The first message, sent on August 1, 1993, was entitled " [ Can Dumb People Enjoy IDM, Too?] ". As of 2008, the mailing list is still active.


"Allmusic Guide" describes the IDM name as

A loaded term meant to distinguish electronic music of the '90s and later that's equally comfortable on the dancefloor as in the living room, IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) eventually acquired a good deal of negative publicity, not least among the legion of dance producers and fans whose exclusion from the community prompted the question of whether they produced stupid dance music.
In a September 1997 interview, Aphex Twin commented on the 'Intelligent Dance Music' label:
I just think it's really funny to have terms like that. It's basically saying 'this is intelligent and everything else is stupid.' It's really nasty to everyone else's music. (laughs) It makes me laugh, things like that. I don't use names. I just say that I like something or I don't. [Aphex Twin interview, September, 1997 [] ]
Aphex Twin's Rephlex records official overarching genre name is Braindance, of which Dave Segal of Stylus Magazine asked whether it was a "snide dig at IDM’s mockworthy Intelligent Dance Music tag?" ["Rephlexions!: A Braindance Compilation", 20/11/2003, Dave Segal, Stylus Magazine, [] ] British artist Mike Paradinas (µ-Ziq) has bluntly said:
No one uses or used it in UK. Only Americans ever used the term. It was invented by Alan Parry who set up the IDM mailing list. [ [ Igloo Magazine :: :: Is IDM dead? ] ]

Kid 606 has said,

I hate IDM and its elitist champions. It makes the music sound so much more than it actually is. It's a label invented by PR companies who need catchphrases. I like sounds, but hate what people attach to sounds. [ [ Kid606 Ultrahang festival] ]

Chris Jeffs (Cylob) said, "Also, anyone who applies the term IDM to my music deserves to be shot." [ [ Intelligent Dance ] ] Thaddeus Hermann of City Centre Offices has said

Nowadays, I do not like the sound of the term. Whenever someone mentions it, or uses it to describe their own music, I immediately become skeptical, expecting weak and boring tracks.” [ [ igloo magazine: Is IDM Dead?] ]
Matmos (Perfect Sound Forever) has said,
I belong to the weblist called "IDM" and occasionally enjoy the discussions there, because I like some of the artists who get lassoed into that category (not to mention that we, occasionally, are lumped into that category too), and because you can occasionally find out about interesting records on that list... Matmos is IDM if that only means "might be talked about on the IDM list"- but I don't endorse that term "intelligent dance music" because it's laughable. Rather Interesting Records had a nice slogan that kind of says it all: "Remember: Only Stupid People Call It "Intelligent". [ [ Matmos interview ] ]

A disparaging term used by dance-oriented critics in reference to I.D.M is "dolphin music". [cite journal |last=Gard |first=Stephen |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2004 |month= |title=Nasty Noises: ‘Error’ as a Compositional Element |journal=Sydney Conservatorium of Music |volume= |issue= |pages= |id= |url= |accessdate=2008-07-27 |quote= ]

Notable Artists

"For a list of IDM artists with articles on Wikipedia, see ."

See also

* Techno
* Folktronica
* Glitch
* List of IDM artists


Further reading

*Reynolds, S., "Energy Flash: a Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture", Pan Macmillan, 1998 [also published in abridged form as "Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture", Routledge, New York 1999] (ISBN 978-0330350563).

External links

* [ IDM-L] - the IDM mailing list
** [ Archive of posts to IDM-L]
** [ original list announcement] on alt.rave, August 8, 1993

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