Clubbers' Decktionary: IDM aka Intelligent Dance Music

Clubbers' Decktionary: IDM aka Intelligent Dance Music

Ulrich Schnauss

Trouble's DJ Hobbes gives us a guide to the myriad genres of clubbing

IDM aka Intelligent Dance Music, proper noun, myriad styles and tempos; abstract electronic music designed more for listening and/or a home environment than the dancefloor. Much like its bastard offspring, EDM, this much-maligned term has always been more popular in the US than UK.

Warp Records’ original Artificial Intelligence compilation (1992) and consequent series (92-94) is usually credited as the source of this concept, with label head Steve Beckett claiming they were targeting a post-club, home-listening audience and subtitling all the releases as ‘electronic listening music’. However, other labels were ploughing a similar furrow at the time. Among them are: Derrick May’s Fragile and Carl Craig’s Planet E in Detroit; Dan Curtin’s Metamorphic in Cleveland; Kirk Degiorgio’s Applied Rhythmic Technology (aka ART), Caspar Pound’s Rising High, Black Dog’s own Productions label and Aphex Twin’s Rephlex, as well as Peacefrog in London; R&S Records in Ghent; Eevo Lute Muzique in Eindhoven; and our own Soma in Glasgow. But Warp had been an electronic music trailblazer since it originally started in Sheffield (1989) and became recognised as the definitive source of IDM in the 90s.

Key figures
Polygon Window (aka Aphex Twin), Speedy J, FUSE (aka Richie Hawtin/Plastikman), Black Dog, B12 and Autechre all released albums in the AI series, while The Orb’s Dr Alex Paterson featured on the first compilation and Cabaret Voltaire’s Richard H Kirk, reinvented as an electronica producer par excellence, featured on the second. Rephlex lampooned the IDM tag by labelling its releases Braindance. Mike Paradinas, aka μ-Ziq, emerged in 1993 going on to run his own hugely influential Planet Mu imprint. German electro-shoegaze don Ulrich Schnauss, Venezuelan/Californian techno-punk Kid606 and whimsical southern legend Luke Vibert have all also had their work described as IDM.

Ulrich Schnauss plays live at Nice’n’Sleazy, Glasgow, Sat 16 Mar; Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Sun 17 Mar.

Ulrich Schnauss

Beatific electronica artist in the same ballpark (or should that be pastoral meadow?) as Boards of Canada.

Ulrich Schnauss, Victorian Hardware

The remixer and producer from Kiel, Germany plays ambient techno and indietronica.

Ulrich Schnauss, Indigo

The musician and songwriter from Kiel, Germany, performs a mix of indietronica and ambient techno to promote the album A Long Way To Fall.

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