What is Ambient?
Ambient music evolved from the experimental electronic music of '70s synth-based artists like Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, and the trance-like techno dance music of the '80s. Ambient is a spacious, electronic music that is concerned with sonic texture, not songwriting or composing. It's frequently repetitive and it all sounds the same to the casual listener, even though there are quite significant differences between the artists. Ambient became a popular cult music in the early '90s, thanks to ambient-techno artists like the Orb and Aphex Twin.
What is Breakbeat?
Breakbeat refers to a narrow subgenre of electronic acts with less energy than the trip-hop or funky breaks, but with a pronounced hip-hop influence to their music. Some of the more downtempo works on British labels like Mo' Wax and Ninja Tune paved the way for New York's DJ Wally (of the Liquid Sky Records brigade) and British artists such as Req, each good examples of the style.
What is Breakcore?
Breakcore combines elements of industrial techno, gabber, drum 'n bass, and noise. It relies on breakbeats which are then chopped up and distorted to extremes. Notable examples included DJ Scud, Slepcy, Rotator, Somatic Responses and Venetian Snares.
What is Deep House?
A more relaxed, stripped-down offshoot of house, deep house lays on the warm 4/4 bass lines, moody atmospheric textures and slithering, subtle funk and grooves, incorporating elements of jazz, light-hearted funk and R&B.
What is Detroit Techno?
Early Detroit Techno is characterized by, alternately, a dark, detached, mechanistic vibe and a smooth, bright, soulful feel (the latter deriving in part from the Motown legacy and the stock-in-trade between early techno and the Chicago-style house developing simultaneously to the southwest). While essentially designed as dance music meant to uplift, the stark, melancholy edge of early tracks by Cybotron, Model 500, Rhythm Is Rhythm, and Reese also spoke to Detroit's economic collapse in the late '70s following the city's prosperous heyday as the focal point of the American automobile industry.
The music's oft-copied ruddy production and stripped-down aesthetic were largely a function of the limited technology available to the early innovators (records were often mastered from two-track onto cassette). The increasingly sophisticated arrangements of contemporary techno (on through to hardcore and jungle), conversely, has much to do with the growth and increasing affordability of MIDI-encoded equipment and desktop digital audio. Second- and third-wave Detroit techno, too, has gained considerably in production, although artists such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Kenny Larkin have sought to combine the peerless sheen of the digital arena with the compositional minimalism of their Detroit origins.
No longer simply contained within the 313 area code, Detroit techno has become a global phenomenon (partly as a result of the more widespread acclaim many of the original Detroit artists have found in other countries), buoyed by the fact that many of the classic early tracks remain in print (available through Submerge). Today, Detroit's third wave is re-exploring the aesthetic commitment of the music's early period, with hard-hitting beats (Underground Resistance, Jeff Mills), soulful grooves (Kenny Larkin, Stacey Pullen), and a renewed interest in techno's breakbeat roots (Aux 88, Drexciya, "Mad" Mike, Dopplereffekt).
What is Downtempo?
Geared toward the late-night armchair listener, downtempo is characterized by languid hip-hop beats that sort of skip along rather than jump and dance, a hazy stripped-down vibe, and warm chords often sampled from smoky jazz and '70s sun-kissed R&B and soul. Some people may associate downtempo with coffeehouses, and unfortunately, downtempo has become somewhat of a dirty word among longtime listeners mainly because it's been appropriated by so many advertisers. But it's still a viable term for essentially mellow, musky electronic music.
What is Drum N Bass?
In stark contrast to the more conventional beat arrangements of techno and house, drum-n-bass emphasizes deep, sometimes growling bass tones, offset by frenetic, high-end rolling snare beats and multiple layers of widely ranging textures, depending on the mood and vibe of the music. Ambient drum-n-bass leans more toward a jazzy, atmospheric sound.
What is Dub?
An offshoot of reggae, dub is characterized by stretched-out, low-end bass tones and reverb, dull, slothful beats, repetitious song snippets, horns, ragga vocals and sparse arrangements.
What is Electro?
Blending '70s funk with the emerging hip-hop culture and synthesizer technology of the early '80s produced the style known alternately as Electro. But what seemed to be a brief fad for the public %uFFFD no more than two or three hits, including Afrikaa Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" and Grandmaster Flash's "The Message," neither of which made the pop Top 40 %uFFFD was in fact a fertile testing ground for innovators who later diverged into radically different territory, including Dr. Dre (who worked with the World Class Wreckin' Cru) and techno godfather Juan Atkins (with Cybotron). Electro also provided an intriguing new direction for one of the style's prime influences: Herbie Hancock, whose 1973 Headhunters album proved a large fusion hit, came storming back in 1983 with the electro single "Rockit." Despite its successes (documented in full on Rhino's four-disc Electric Funk set), the style was quickly eclipsed by the mid-'80s rise of hip-hop music built around samples (often from rock records) rather than musical synthesizers. Nevertheless, many techno and dance artists continued harking back
The Egyptian Lover
The Jonzun Crew
Uncle Jamm's Army
What is Garage House?
The UK version of garage is more aligned with 2-step these days, but in the United States, garage was essentially the bridge between disco and house music in the late 1970s and early 1980s, pushed mainly by the legendary DJ Larry Levan at New York's Paradise Garage club. The sound originally incorporated elements of Motown and Philly soul, with bits of Afro-Cuban rhythms mixed with new wave and no wave punk. Today the sound is more closely aligned with high-energy house party music containing a slew of different musical styles. It's usually identified by the spirited, high-pitched vocals at the forefront of the mix.
What is Ghettotech/booty?
Characterized by a mixture of rough-and-tumble techno, house and hip-hop with hyper-fast beats per minute, raunchy lyrics and various female moans and groans. Politically correct this isn't, and it's probably best suited for a strip joint.
What is Hardcore?
Old school techno and rave with the attitude turned up: heavily effected percussion, aggressive synth lines, and sampled live performance sounds. Hardcore tempos keep rising as the genre develops, with tempos frequently exceeding 200 bpm. Bred in Rotterdam and Scotland, hardcore is notable for its tendency to increase tempo within a given track (and across successive tracks) to match the hardcore dancing body%uFFFDs increasing metabolism rate - you work harder, it gets faster.
What is House?
House music grew out of the post-disco dance club culture of the early '80s. After disco became popular, certain urban DJs %uFFFD particularly those in gay communities %uFFFD altered the music to make it less pop-oriented. The beat became more mechanical and the bass grooves became deeper, while elements of electronic synth pop, Latin soul, dub reggae, rap, and jazz were grafted over the music's insistent, unvarying four-four beat. Frequently, the music was purely instrumental and when there were vocalists, they were faceless female divas that often sang wordless melodies. By the late '80s, house had broken out of underground clubs in cities like Chicago, New York, and London, and had begun making inroads on the pop charts, particularly in England and Europe but later in America under the guise of artists like C+C Music Factory and Madonna. At the same time, house was breaking into the pop charts; it fragmented into a number of subgenres, including hip-house, ambient house, and most significantly, acid house (a subgenre of house with the instantly recognizable squelch of Roland's TB-303 bass-line generator). During the '90s, house ceased to be cutting-edge music, yet it remained popular in clubs throughout Europe and America. At the end of the decade, a new wave of progressive house artists including Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, and House of 909 brought the music back to critical quarters with praised full-length works.
A Guy Called Gerald
A Man Called Adam
Armand Van Helden
C+C Music Factory
Dimitri from Paris
Farley & Heller
Farley Jackmaster Funk
Felix da Housecat
Funky Green Dogs
House of 909
Masters at Work
Mateo & Matos
Mood II Swing
Pet Shop Boys
Reel 2 Real
Roy Davis, Jr.
Sasha + John Digweed
Soul II Soul
Steve "Silk" Hurley
Terry Lee Brown, Jr.
The Drum Club
The Real McCoy
Tony de Vit
What is Industrial?
Popularized by the likes of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, Industrial is hardcore brain hemorrhaging music, lovingly crafted for maximum anxiety and aggression release on the dancefloor. Harshly distorted guitars and illegible vocals combine with hard, driving rhythms to form a front of sonic assault. Industrial is often fiercely political, interweaving media clips, political speeches, and sound effects together with intentionally abrasive music.
What is Jungle?
Jungle originates from London, England. The real roots are from 1989, the genre evolved during 1990-1992 from the breakbeats used in Hardocore Techno to become a serious Electronica genre in 1995 when artist records from 4 Hero, Goldie and A Guy Called Gerald came out. Timeless from Goldie is the innovating track from 1995: 21 minutes of music: . In these years, a distinction between the dance and listening jungle grew, just like in Techno and Breakbeat. The term comes from a James Brown compilation Into the Jungle Groove with the classic breakbeat in Funky Drummer on it.
The genre could be described as speeded-up breakbeats with a slower bassline. The speed of the drums varies from 140-170 beats per minute; the bassline is - sometimes - half of the speed of the drum. The drums have the breakbeat 1 2 33 4, which means that the 2 and 4 are snare or kick drum `on the floor', while the 1 sometimes and the 3 hardly always are syncopated drums (i.e. off the measure). The bassline is flowing smoothly or pumping energously, originating from dub/reggae. Usually Time-stretched vocal sample, often spoken with Jamaican accent.
What is Minimal Techno/Tech-house?
Just like the name implies, minimal techno is a much less dense version of techno that has gained strength in recent years. The productions rely more on intricate percussion and rhythms and seem almost mathematical in structure. Tech-house is characterized by its more digital, crisply clean vibe, but with slower, spaced-out, fat kick-drums similar to house music.
What is Progressive House/Trance?
Not well-liked among techno purists, trance and progressive house are probably the most popular mainstream forms of electronic music, emphasizing sweeping builds and drops, pulsating synths and gurgling, spooky textures with faster beats per minute than most techno and house.
Breaking out of the German techno and hardcore scene of the early '90s, Trance emphasized brief synthesizer lines repeated endlessly throughout tracks, with only the addition of minimal rhythmic changes and occasional synthesizer atmospherics to distinguish them %uFFFD in effect putting listeners into a trance that approached those of religious origin. Despite waning interest in the sound during the mid-'90s, trance made a big comeback later in the decade, even supplanting house as the most popular dance music of choice around the globe.
Inspired by acid house and Detroit techno, trance coalesced with the opening of R&S Records in Ghent, Belgium and Harthouse/Eye Q Records in Frankfurt, Germany. R&S defined the sound early on with singles like "Energy Flash" by Joey Beltram, "The Ravesignal" by CJ Bolland, and others by Robert Leiner, Sun Electric, and Aphex Twin. Harthouse, begun in 1992 by Sven V%uFFFDth with Heinz Roth & Matthias Hoffman, made the most impact on the sound of trance with Hardfloor's minimal epic "Hardtrance Acperience" and V%uFFFDth's own "L'Esperanza," plus releases by Arpeggiators, Spicelab, and Barbarella. Artists like V%uFFFDth, Bolland, Leiner, and many others made the transition to the full-length realm, though without much of an impact on the wider music world.
Despite a long nascent period when it appeared trance had disappeared, replaced by breakbeat dance (trip-hop and jungle), the style's increasing impact on Britain's dance scene finally crested in the late '90s. The classic German sound had changed somewhat though, and the term "progressive" trance gained favor to describe influences from the smoother end of house and Euro dance. By 1998, most of the country's best-known DJs %uFFFD Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong, Tony De Vit, Danny Rampling, Sasha, Judge Jules %uFFFD were playing trance in Britain's superclubs. Even America turned on to the sound (eventually), led by its own cast of excellent DJs, including Christopher Lawrence and Kimball Collins.
What is Techno?
Techno had its roots in the electronic house music made in Detroit in the mid-'80s. Where house still had explicit connection to disco even when it was entirely mechanical, techno was strictly electronic music, designed for a small, specific audience. The first techno producers and DJs %uFFFD Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, and Derrick May, among others %uFFFD emphasized the electronic, synthesized beats of electro-funk artists like Afrika Bambaataa and synth-rock units like Kraftwerk. In the United States, techno was strictly an underground phenomenon, but in England, it broke into the mainstream in the late '80s. In the early '90s, techno began to fragment into a number of subgenres, including hardcore, ambient, and jungle. In hardcore techno, the beats-per-minute on each record were sped up to ridiculous, undanceable levels %uFFFD it was designed to alienate a broad audience. Ambient took the opposite direction, slowing the beats down and relying on watery electronic textures %uFFFD it was used as come-down music, when ravers and club-goers needed a break from acid house and hardcore techno. Jungle was nearly as aggressive as hardcore, combining driving techno beats with breakbeats and dancehall reggae %uFFFD essentially. All subgenres of techno were initially designed to be played in clubs, where they would be mixed by DJs. Consequently, most of the music was available on 12-inch singles or various-artists compilations, where the songs could run for a long time, providing the DJ with a lot of material to mix into his set. In the mid-'90s, a new breed of techno artists %uFFFD most notably ambient acts like the Orb and Aphex Twin, but also harder-edged artists like the Prodigy and Goldie %uFFFD began constructing albums that didn't consist of raw beats intended for mixing. Not surprisingly, these artists %uFFFD particularly the Prodigy %uFFFD became the first recognizable stars in techno.
Anthony "Shake" Shakir
Eddie "Flashin" Fowlkes
Jam & Spoon
The Black Dog
The Future Sound of London
The Sabres of Paradise
The Suburban Knight
Two Lone Swordsmen