Author Topic: The Rebirth of IDM? (Nostalgia or Renaissance?)  (Read 6157 times)


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The Rebirth of IDM? (Nostalgia or Renaissance?)
« on: October 26, 2008, 11:33:35 PM »
I don't necessarily think nostalgia is a bad thing. It sometimes seems that styles and trends move so fast these days in art and music that nothing ever has a chance to really develop. I am suddenly really appreciating all kinds of revivals, or rethinks, in electronic music. Sending Orbs, U-cover, and a slew of others have been giving new life to electronica. Is it retrogressive? I think not. These new acts are giving a new shine to an old school electro sound, something I've been missing for a while. I was a huge Warp fan for quite a while, and I think that they were kind of a revival of an older, primordial school of electronica. I got into stuff like B-12 because I loved that shimmering futuristic sound. I had a vague idea that it was "Detroit" inspired but never really got deeper into origins. I'm finding the newer music to have some of the trappings of the first and second generation of electro, but doing something different to it, making it more "alive" somehow. I know this was already the idea when the term "IDM" was coined, but when I listen to some of the original IDM it doesn't seem that intelligent yet. Even Aphex can seem a bit flat. But the next next generation of sounds flow out of my stereo, as from the Sending Orbs label, it feels more mature, less pop oriented, more of a true "listening" experience, not geared toward some kind of imaginary dance floor or club. Am I just imagining it, or does Warp kind of well, suck, nowadays. Just way too slick and overloaded with hipness. The "I" in the IDM has turned to some kind of invisible unspoken worship of being ironically ironic, or being ironic about being ironic, while still being tongue in cheek. Screw that. I am digging the new freshness, the big heart of retro futurism like Saul Stokes, and I think some of the newer revival artists are building on the older sounds, just like any art form should, in a normal society, and giving them new resonace. So Secede may sound something like Plaid or whatever, but for me it goes beyond the kind of slick cuteness of Plaid (which I absolutely loved in the past, don't get me wrong)...

Your thoughts?


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Re: The Rebirth of IDM? (Nostalgia or Renaissance?)
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2008, 04:03:25 AM »
I agree entirely.

I always thought the term IDM was a bit insulting.  It's kind of like drawing a line in the sand at the year 1966 and changing the term 'rock music' to 'Intelligent rock music' and then calling it IRM.  It just reeks of under-analysis and creating endless bloody micro genres, in the hope of defining the undefinable.  No offense to anyone but I do get annoyed at artists giving their sound long and convoluted descriptions- Chilled dark house acid jazz mango chutney ambient.  It's a bit tedious.  Why not a one or two barrelled genre description, and let the album do the rest of the work? 

AS to the "imaginary dance floor"!!  that had me in stitches.  So true 9 dragons!  Why oh why do we need it?  Why must there be a dance floor in IDM?  Who dances to Global Communications??  Who dances to Gas?  ok, maybe there are some hipsters who do, but come would be painful to watch. :)  (Dances around the room in a mechanical, then sultry, then arty way, doing marcel marceau mime gestures to the sound of Vladislav Delay).

...Bring on the big heart of future retroism.  While that term is SLIGHTLY pretentious, the music certainly isn't.

darren bergstein

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Re: The Rebirth of IDM? (Nostalgia or Renaissance?)
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2008, 10:20:07 AM »
Hate to break it to you, but IDM never went away, nostalgia notwithstanding ;) ; much like "microsound" or "clicks 'n' cuts", it merely broke from being the 'it'-thing of the moment to simply co-exist alongside the other thousand micro-genres of electronic music.

I will admit that the term IDM, like most of these glib, usually journalistically-coined catchphrases, has long outlived whatever usefulness it once sported. I must also admit that myself and many of my colleagues use it still, again more as some kind of journalistic shorthand, ne้ signifier, than anything else. There is no doubt that current lingo, and the constant mutational aspects of post-dance electronic music, has sometimes made it difficult to provide readers with anything near "accurate" representations of what these musics mean, their "definitions", etc., all of which gets more and more elusive as the years pass by, and the ability of manipulated software to effortlessly blur styles and directives renders such terminology dated almost instantly.

So many misnomers exist in the idea of an "intelligent" dance music it would take a catalog of reasons to dismiss the utter incongruity of the term; naturally, a good amount of simple, literal dance music courts singlemindedness in purpose, as well as mindlessness in execution, but that in and of itself isn't a blanket condemnation of music that operates from a wholly rhythmic basis (albeit with whatever additional flourishes accompany said rhythms/beats). The origin of the term IDM somehow bled out from the initial Warp-ing sobriquet of "electronic listening music" coined for its original Artificial Intelligence series of compilations, as well as an (admittedly) half-assed attempt to invent a term that described whatever artists/labels were creating dance (rhythm)-based musics not necessarily intended for dance floor use only.

Personally, I think many of these terms are gilding the lily, so to speak, establishing demarcation points where none are necessary. To paraphrase Richard H. Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire (who inadvertently or not were some of the chief progenitors of what would become IDM in the 90s booted up way back in the early 80s), who said around roughly the mid-to-late 80s that the most interesting music then being produced was arising out of (or found its foundations from within) dance music. This was just prior to techno achieving notoriety, not yet a global force but close, and many post-Warp artists (RD James, Autechre, Kirk DeGiorgio, B12, The Black Dog, etc. etc.) were fascinated and obsessed with reinventing whatever models existed surrounding rhythm and its pliability.

IMO, a smattering of current artists/labels/concerns worthy of investigation who many might place under the IDM banner: Sending Orb artists (Kettel, Blamstrain), artists on labels such as Sublight and Hymen (spec. Architect, Hecq, Marching Dynamics, Luisine), the amazing Russian group Modul, Japanese labels such as the ridiculously obscure Ryoondo-Tea (incl. Firo, Snoweffect, Otograph), labels such as n5MD (who just released excellent new recordings by IDM mainstays Another Electronic Musician & Funckarma), U-Cover (which myself & my colleagues have covered in seemingly endless length in the pages of e/i), the list easily continues...

...and the beat goes on...
« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 12:51:02 PM by darren bergstein »