Folktronica Essentials

Folktronica Essentials

As sampling ramped up in the ‘90s, many producers—particularly those with backgrounds in indie rock and instrumental music—came to a startling conclusion: Electronic music didn’t have to sound electronic. In addition to the usual synths and drum machines, they could avail themselves of acoustic tones evocative of another era, teasingly mixing digital techniques with the sepia-tinged timbres of yesteryear. Folktronica was born, and pioneers like Four Tet, Caribou, and Lali Puna set about reworking the synthetic textures of IDM with plucked harp, fingerpicked guitar, and brushed percussion, all rendered as gently as a snowflake settling on an eyelash. The concept had legs: The French duo Air parlayed the sound into film soundtracks, and Argentina’s Juana Molina spun it into a kind of avant-garde ambient pop, while Bon Iver picked up the baton and ran in the other direction, seeding full-on indie folk with rich layers of glitch and Auto-Tune.

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