Sunday, March 23, 2008


A few times I've visited Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music, which is a pretty cool site for anyone with an interest in electronic music. It's even sort of educational. After seeing it again on Friday, I decided to finally sit down and browse through the whole thing this afternoon, tracing styles of music from their origins, and listening to hundreds of sample tracks. The site breaks electronic music down into seven genre groups from three areas of the world (Midwest United States, Western Europe, and the Caribbean), and then traces the roots of each genre from the 70s and 80s (or even really early in the 20th century in a couple cases). If the site does anything, it proves just how many wildly different styles of electronic music there are. "Techno," the term that most people who don't have an interest in electronic music use to mash together a couple hundred styles of music into one, is just one of the seven.

If I had to say a number off the top of my head, I'd say that I hate about half of the music on there. In fact, out of the dozens of subgenres in "Techno" and "Hardcore," there isn't anything I really like. Certainly "my" category is Downtempo—I own a lot of CDs that fit here, including New Age, Worldbeat, Ambient Breaks, Trip Hop, Downbeat, and Acid Jazz. The thing that I find interesting is that a ton of the music I buy is in some way "electronic music," but not much of it is really covered by the genres on this site. I think that's mostly just because almost everything is "electronic music" these days. Modern electronic-influenced rock and pop is mostly omitted; only older styles like Disco and 80s New Wave that were stepping stones to later styles show up. Of course, that's kind of the cool thing about music—a site like this can list hundreds of different styles of music, and then you realize that it's just a start, and there are a lot of styles that aren't even covered in those hundreds.

Even though it's far from comprehensive, there's still a lot of interesting content on the site, and it's worth the couple hours it will take to go through it and sample the tracks.

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For the curious, here are the styles that I like listening to from time to time. In a lot of these cases, especially outside of the Downtempo category, it's not music that I can listen to for more than a short while before getting annoyed. Underlined styles are the ones I have favorite CDs in and would buy more CDs in.

House: New Wave, Synthpop, Italo Disco, Dub, Hip House, Techno Dance, Progressive House, Synthtron, Nu Italo Disco, Tribal House, Funky House, French House

Trance: Symphonic Trance, Breaktrance, Dream Trance, Ibiza Trance, Tribal Trance, Goa Trance, Industrial Experimental, Industrial Rock

Techno: None.

Breakbeat: Electro Funk, Progressive Hop, Abstract Hip Hop, Funky Breaks, Big Beat

Jungle: Jungle, Drum 'n Bass, Jazzstep, Liquid Funk, Atmospheric Jungle

Hardcore: None.

Downtempo: Ambient, Psychedelia, Electronic Classical, Early Synth, French Pop, New Age, Ethereal, Dark Ambient, Worldbeat, Ambient Trance, Ambient Psy, Ambient Breaks, Trip Hop, Downbeat, Acid Jazz, Illbient, Nu Jazz

Currently listening: Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music

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