IDM Essentials

IDM Essentials

The genre known as intelligent dance music began as a kind of thought experiment: If machines become sentient, what sorts of sounds might they make? The style arose in the early ’90s and borrowed its name from Warp Records’ pioneering 1992 compilation Artificial Intelligence, where artists like Speedy J and Autechre bent the sounds of techno to increasingly convoluted ends. An entire subgenre followed, pairing tangled machine rhythms and digital textures with plangent synthesizer melodies and bursts of noise. In the decades since, IDM has taken on innumerable forms. It can be doggedly futuristic or warmly nostalgic—by turns chaotic, aggressive, sentimental, even twee. Its development has often progressed alongside technological innovations. New methods in sampling breakbeats birthed the drill ’n’ bass of artists like Squarepusher and µ-Ziq, and software manipulations paved the way for the glitch techniques of Oval and Richard Devine. Decades later, IDM continues to evolve. That long-ago experiment in artificial intelligence has taken on a life of its own.

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