Spoiler: There’s a lot of Warp
January 26, 2017 1:57 PM   Subscribe

The dispute is over! Pitchfork has done it! They’ve assembled the positively, most-definitive, entirely indisputable list of the 50 Best IDM Albums of all time! (50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1.) Surely no one will have contrasting opinions.
There’s a Spotify playlist! There’s an Apple Music playlist! And there’s an explanatory video if you don’t want to read things. All fifty entries inside, with some links to reviews from Pitchfork at the time (note humorous contrasts and hagiographic rewrites!), Wikipedia articles, and streaming audio.

  1. Jason Forrest, The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post-Disco Crash (Cock Rock Disco, 2004) (bandcamp)
  2. Kid606, Down With The Scene (Ipecac Records, 2000) (bandcamp)
  3. Blectum from Blechdom, Haus de Snaus (Tigerbeat6, 2001) (YouTube, official page of one band member with other audio)
  4. Mira Calix, One on One, (Warp, 2000) (YouTube)
  5. Isolée, Rest, (Playhouse, 2000) (Spotify, Amazon, Google Play)
  6. M:I:5, Maßstab 1:5, (Profan, 1997) (YouTube)
  7. Arovane, Tides, (City Centre Offices, 2001) (bandcamp)
  8. Bola, Soup, (Skam, 1998) (Spotify, Amazon, Google Play)
  9. The Black Dog, Spanners, (Warp, 1994) (YouTube)
  10. Anthony Manning, Islets in Pink Polyproprylene, (Irdial, 1994) (archive.org)
  11. Caribou, Start Breaking My Heart (original review, re-review), (Domino/The Leaf Label, 2001) (YouTube)
  12. Leila, Like Weather, (Rephlex, 1998) (YouTube, archive.org)
  13. Pan Sonic, Vakio, (Blast First, 1995) (Spotify, Amazon, Google Play)
  14. Jon Hopkins, Immunity, (Domino, 2013) (YouTube)
  15. Plaid, Not for Threes, (Warp, 1997) (YouTube)
  16. Jlin, Dark Energy, (Planet Mu, 2015) (bandcamp)
  17. Pole, 1, (Kiff SM, 1998)
  18. Burger/Ink, [Las Vegas], (Harvest, 1996) (YouTube)
  19. SND, Atavism, (Raster-Noton, 2009) (YouTube)
  20. Mouse on Mars, Glam, (Sonig, 1998) (YouTube)
  21. Seefeel, Succour, (Warp, 1995) (YouTube)
  22. Carl Craig, More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art, (Planet E, 1997) (YouTube)
  23. Jim O’Rourke, I’m Happy, and I’m Singing, and a 1,2,3,4, (Mego, 2001) (YouTube)
  24. µ-Ziq, Lunatic Harness, (Planet Mu, 1997) (YouTube)
  25. Polygon Window, Surfing On Sine Waves, (Warp, 1993) (YouTube)
  26. Venetian Snares, Rossz Csillag Alatt Született, (Planet Mu, 2005) (bandcamp)
  27. Squarepusher, Hard Normal Daddy, (Warp, 1997) (YouTube)
  28. Farben, Textstar, (Klang Elektronik, 2002) (Spotify, Amazon)
  29. Two Lone Swordsmen, Stay Down, (Matador/Warp, 1999) (Spotify, Amazon, Google Play)
  30. Various Artists, Clicks + Cuts, (Mille Plateaux, 2000)
  31. Urban Tribe, The Collapse of Modern Culture, (Mo’Wax, 1998) (YouTube)
  32. Matmos, A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure, (Matador, 2001) (YouTube)
  33. Mouse on Mars, Autoditacker, (Too Pure, 1997) (YouTube)
  34. Clark, Body Riddle, (Warp, 2006) (YouTube)
  35. Autechre, Amber, (Warp, 1994) (YouTube)
  36. Prefuse 73, One Word Extinguisher, (Warp, 2003) (Spotify, Amazon)
  37. Flying Lotus, Los Angeles, (Warp, 2008) (YouTube)
  38. Aphex Twin, …I Care Because You Do, (Warp, 1995) (YouTube)
  39. Boards of Canada, In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country EP, (Warp, 2000) (YouTube)
  40. Drexciya, Harnessed The Storm, (Tresor, 2002) (YouTube)
  41. Various Artists, Artificial Intelligence, (Warp, 1992) (Spotify)
  42. Squarepusher, Big Loada, (Warp, 1997) (Spotify, Amazon, Google Play)
  43. Autechre, LP5, (Warp, 1998) (YouTube)
  44. Jan Jelinek, Loop-finding-jazz-records, (~Scape, 2001) (YouTube)
  45. Four Tet, Rounds (original review, re-review), (Domino, 2003) (YouTube)
  46. Boards of Canada, Geogaddi, (Warp, 2002) (YouTube)
  47. Aphex Twin, The Richard D. James Album, (Warp/Sire, 1996) (YouTube)
  48. Autechre, Tri Repetae, (Warp, 1995) (YouTube)
  49. Boards of Canada, Music Has the Right to Children, (Warp, 1998) (YouTube)
  50. Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92, (Apollo, 1992) (Spotify, Amazon, Google Play)
posted by Going To Maine (97 comments total) 112 users marked this as a favorite

 
(Alt. title: “A good bleep bloop leaves everybody bloop bleep”)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:58 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Staggering linking effort! Note for those who may be potentially confused - this is numbered in the opposite way from how Pitchfork numbered it (i.e., Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is their #1 IDM album of all time, not Jason Forrest)
posted by naju at 2:03 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


oh wow, Going To Maine, thank you for your efforts!
posted by bigendian at 2:04 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


So excited about this list. And flabbergasted at all the YouTube links, thank you so much. I'm thrilled because there's so much music here I haven't heard yet.

I'm a bit sad at how the article and the list reflect an idea that IDM's heydey is in the past. Maybe I'm just old now, but to me it's still a completely contemporary and exciting new music form. OTOH I can't point to anything new I really love. Even Elseq feels a bit self indulgent.
posted by Nelson at 2:08 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


IDM? Hmm, it looks like their definition is pretty broad. Personally, Artificial Intelligence is peak IDM for me, which also shows how I've mentally pinned the genre in a certain vintage of sound.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:15 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


@Nelson As a fellow old I feel exactly the same way. Isn't the knock against Pitchfork loves to say every heyday was in the past? Nothing is ever current, they embody the snarly hipster sterotype of the sneering "you wouldn't have heard of it."

At least that's what I tell myself.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:16 PM on January 26


OTOH I can't point to anything new I really love

My favourite album of the last few years is Holly Herndon's Platform, and which would be well worth a place in the higher reaches of this list (in my opinion, etc).
posted by dng at 2:18 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


I think they should have imposed a limit - one album per artist. As things stand, there are three Aphex Twin albums, three Boards of Canada albums, and three Autechre albums in the top 20. I get that these are staggeringly influential artists in the genre with multiple masterpieces, but it doesn't make for a great list.

For Autechre, Confield should've gotten an appearance over anything else here. It might be my choice for #1, period.

I'm not sure if Selected Ambient Works would even rank in my top 5 Aphex Twin albums. The best is probably Richard D. James Album. I'm very confused about why this album is considered the greatest IDM album of all time. It was formative and introduced a legend, sure, but to my ears it's Aphex Twin before he really embraced his weirdness and innovation and went for the jugular.

Bjork's Homogenic or Vespertine deserve to be on here, unless we're deciding that's outside the realm of IDM. I don't think it is.

No Orb?? Live 93 and Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld are classics...

Orbital??

Amon Tobin... Max Tundra... Future Sound of London... Underworld...
posted by naju at 2:18 PM on January 26 [22 favorites]


Having not bought any new electronic music this century, I’m glad to realise I apparently haven't missed anything.
*puts on Ageispolis again*
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:19 PM on January 26


I’m a bit sad at how the article and the list reflect an idea that IDM’s heydey is in the past. Maybe I'm just old now, but to me it's still a completely contemporary and exciting new music form. OTOH I can't point to anything new I really love. Even Elseq feels a bit self indulgent.

Braindance is still kicking around (ref. braindance on bandcamp), but major labels aren’t particularly looking at it as the future. Footwork seems to be where it’s at (or whatever has surpassed footwork) - see the entry for Jlin. More’s the pity, I can’t say I like it.

(Also, Deep House seems to be quite big these days too.)
posted by Going To Maine at 2:26 PM on January 26


No Oval either. It's just an odd list to me.
posted by naju at 2:26 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Geogaddi is in the top ten? Come on. And I'm seconding FSOL as a major miss.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:27 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit sad at how the article and the list reflect an idea that IDM's heydey is in the past.

I got in to IDM after 2000. It was like going to a party after everyone left.
posted by zabuni at 2:28 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


Getting many 'This video is not available. Sorry about that.' YT videos :(

(Probably because I am in Canada?)
posted by papafrita at 2:35 PM on January 26


I'm very glad Seefeel is on there. I recently remembered how amazing they were / are. Shoegaze and electronics marry so well.

Personally, Artificial Intelligence is peak IDM for me, which also shows how I've mentally pinned the genre in a certain vintage of sound.

Same for me. The cover of that compilation had a picture of a guy relaxing in an armchair, and the tagline "Electronic Listening Music from Warp" – which, to me, epitomized what the genre was about. It was trippy and cerebral, yes – but also melodic, upbeat (or otherwise pleasant), and, well, musical (for lack of a better word).

But, that moment was pretty short-lived – Autechre and RDJ soon let the genre into more challenging and fractured territory, followed soon by drill-n-bass, and it wasn't long before "IDM" meant something quite different.

Original Recipe IDM kinda diffused into the general musical landscape, I guess. At the time, non-dancefloor-centric electronic music was something of a novelty – but as the technology became more accessible, and electronic sounds in general became gradually more accepted, everything became "electronic listening music", to one degree or another. In that sense, the genre was kinda a victim of its own success.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:36 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


I'm Getting many 'This video is not available. Sorry about that.' YT videos :(

Hmm. I subscribe to YouTube Red, so perhaps I have special accesses I didn't know about. Boo on me if so.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:51 PM on January 26


I think there are certainly still good new IDM things appearing - I have been liking Rival Consoles a lot.
posted by blacksmithtb at 2:51 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Surely no one will have contrasting opinions.

Surprisingly okay with most of this, though it seems to be leaning heavily to a particularly Warpy sound and excluding, as noted your Orbs and also your Ninja Tune/Trip Hop/Instrumental Hip Hop axis.
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


FSOL are still around and putting out amazing stuff, BTW. Check out their Enviroments series.
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


No Orbital, really? (Yao_Ming_Face.gif)
posted by Damienmce at 2:55 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


three Boards of Canada albums

Which reminds me - while I get that Music Has the Right to Children was an influential album, Geogaddi (which is on the list, I know) and Tomorrow's Harvest are much better, to me.
posted by atoxyl at 2:56 PM on January 26


i'm with naju on this, would've been nice to see one album per artist.

its fascinating to think that the newest stuff on this list (jon hopkins, jlin) is aggressive (and "dance-y") in ways that IDM isn't typically known for. and even those are a huge shift from the albums immediately preceding them in time (the more hip-hop leaning stuff from flylo and prefuse73)

additionally, i think that prefuse went even more "IDM" with some of his side-projects, like piano overlord

(seconding rival consoles)
posted by raihan_ at 2:56 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Also I love Drexciya but I don't know if they really belong on this list.
posted by atoxyl at 3:04 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Or okay - whatever. It's not like "IDM" has a clear definition anyway.
posted by atoxyl at 3:08 PM on January 26


No Orbital, really?

I never really thought of Orbital as IDM. They were always kinda their own thing - more part of the early UK techno scene, a la LFO and 808 State.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:11 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Marc Weidenbaum , who contributed to this, writes about the issue he personally had with defining idm at his website, disquiet.
posted by lownote at 3:15 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


He's def going for a thing that's more narrow than I would go for, but pretty correct within that.
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on January 26


I'd have expected orbital to make a showing within that though, it's a weird omission.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Wow, how frustrating - of all that stellar work with the links, only a handful of the Youtube ones work in the UK (45, 40, 39, 28, 20, 17) - everything else says "This video is not available - sorry about that"... gah :(
posted by Chunder at 3:19 PM on January 26


Hmm. Orbital has always come off as not-IDM to me. They're just too... earnest.
posted by zsazsa at 3:22 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Aphex Twin has the same problem Gabe Newell has with the ordinal number following two, I see.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:26 PM on January 26


What, no "Boc Maxima"?
posted by asterix at 3:38 PM on January 26


Hmmm, much of interest on here to wander through over the remnants of winter and while waiting for the next BoC album. I was starting to wear out the videos of my all-time favorite video and piece of music. Thanks for the post, Going to Maine.
posted by Wordshore at 3:41 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


IDM [Wikipedia]
posted by craniac at 3:48 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Not a bad list at all. The big glaring omission to me was Amon Tobin. Bricolage and Permutations opened a lot of eyes and brains in my circles.
posted by sauril at 3:51 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]


I like this list. I was also very happy to see The Unrelenting Songs... on it, because it birthed my favorite music video of all time.
posted by phooky at 4:10 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised Lusine didn't make the list - I really enjoy the Two Dots album. For me, Tekkon Kinkreet soundtrack is Plaid's best work, but I have a bias towards less challenging and more melodic, that's for sure.
posted by smoke at 4:30 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Not a bad list at all. The big glaring omission to me was Amon Tobin. Bricolage and Permutations opened a lot of eyes and brains in my circles.

And ISAM among recent IDM works.
posted by atoxyl at 4:43 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


As a HUGE Boards of Canada fan, I'm just pleased to see them so high up. I'm not even too mad about Aphex Twin being in the #1 slot, because I've probably listened to that album as much as anything. I'm trying very hard not to derail this thread into a top 50 list of BoC songs (including the bootlegs, stuff-that-may-not-actually-be-them, and songs played backwards).
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:57 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Too amped up to check if anyone else referenced them, but as an original (or pretty close) IDM listed, I have to say As One anyone?
posted by saintjoe at 5:18 PM on January 26


I like this list. I was also very happy to see The Unrelenting Songs... on it, because it birthed my favorite music video of all time .

Oh fun. My favorite music video comes from Jason Forrest’s post-Post-Disco Crash album.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:22 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Orbital aren't IDM by any stretch of the imagination.

Amon Tobin and Lusine are baffling omissions.
posted by neckro23 at 5:40 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


My top 10 11 of their top 50:

Arovane, Tides, (City Centre Offices, 2001)
Bola, Soup, (Skam, 1998)
Leila, Like Weather, (Rephlex, 1998)
Pan Sonic, Vakio, (Blast First, 1995)
Plaid, Not for Threes, (Warp, 1997)
Pole, 1, (Kiff SM, 1998)
Mouse on Mars, Glam, (Sonig, 1998)
Two Lone Swordsmen, Stay Down, (Matador/Warp, 1999)
Prefuse 73, One Word Extinguisher, (Warp, 2003)
Autechre, LP5, (Warp, 1998)
Boards of Canada, Music Has the Right to Children, (Warp, 1998)

For what it's worth, I saw L'usine a couplefew years ago and he played a pretty straight minimal techno set, which I figure is disqualifying if that's what he's been doing lately. A waste of CalArts tuition, but what do I know. Love his older stuff!
posted by rhizome at 5:43 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Orbital aren't IDM by any stretch of the imagination.

They were certainly talked about back in the day within the IDM (or "electronic music for listening", at the very least) camp. If Plaid is unqestionably IDM, why does Orbital have to pass the purity test? Because they weren't on Warp, I suppose!
posted by naju at 6:38 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I'm scratching my head at his Amon Tobin gets in and they don't, TBH.
posted by Artw at 6:51 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


I think I would’ve expected Grimes on this list. She’s doing some of the best most exciting music I’ve heard in recent years.
posted by migurski at 7:43 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Came to bitch about FSOL and Amon Tobin, was not disappointed

YASSS DREXCIYA but let's be real, I would have also expected Electronic Eye's Closed Circuit to be here (if you don't know about this fantastic Richard H. Kirk side project, please enjoy Bush Channel Stepper from that seminal album).
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:09 PM on January 26


Skipped straight to the top ten. Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. Two each.

Correct.

Also, old. Ooooooold. Not even classic old, just, like me listening to obscure '70s prog-rock in the '90s old, and sort of getting it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:15 PM on January 26


With regards to Future Sound of London: How do y'all feel about Dead Cities vs. Accelerator (maybe even throw in Amorphous Androgynous - Tales of Ephidrina)?

One of the great things about IDM is that it's really a celebration of concept albums. FSOL is exceptional at this, which is why I feel they should be listed.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:21 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Sorry to keep posting but The Black Dog is one of my favorites of all time as well. They have many excellent Radio Dogma shows available online.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:24 PM on January 26


And all this time I thought IDM meant "Industrial Dance Music". My world is shattered.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:00 PM on January 26


FSOL is a big omission. I love Expander from Accelerator, but I’d say that ISDN has probably been my consistent favorite of theirs. Dead Cities not so much.
posted by migurski at 9:51 PM on January 26


Sorry to keep posting but The Black Dog is one of my favorites of all time as well. They have many excellent Radio Dogma shows available online.

Spanners is tops.

L'usine/Lusine/Lusine ICL - self-titled debut blew my lid off, Pseudo-Steady State is more amorphous but still good, everything after that kind of drifted off into minimal techno that couldn't hold my attention.

Leila Like Weather I bought on a whim in a record store in Amsterdam and nobody else ever seems to have heard of it. It's awesome.

I can listen to Burger/Ink Las Vegas on repeat forever anytime.

I feel like Monolake should be on this list somewhere but maybe that's too far afield? Gravity sure feels like it treads the line between minimal techno and IDM.

(I got into IDM after the Artificial Intelligence heydey too, and I probably haven't bought an album since...2010?)


hi i'm on metafitler and i could overthink a platter of IDM
posted by murphy slaw at 9:59 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Orbital is IDM? Get off my lawn.
posted by MillMan at 11:01 PM on January 26


Well, it basically just means Ambient Techno and maybe a bit of Drum and Bass, right?
posted by Artw at 11:40 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


It's beat-oriented electronic listening music.
posted by rhizome at 11:42 PM on January 26


*puts on Ageispolis again*
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 5:19 PM on January 26 [+] [!]
Put me back!
posted by ageispolis at 11:45 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


Thanks very much for putting all these links together - great stuff!
posted by sudasana at 12:14 AM on January 27


*holds up lighter for Lexaunculpt's The Blurring of Trees and Richard Devine's Anthracite T Vari*
posted by juv3nal at 1:20 AM on January 27


Oh shit also fizzarum
posted by juv3nal at 1:25 AM on January 27


RDJ album has gotta be #1
posted by ejoey at 2:13 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


White dance music for people who don't actually dance.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:55 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Poor Pitchfork. They lassoed a lot of very good artists, but many of their best albums are simply missing.

Whether or not any of that is IDM entirely misses the point. The 1995-2000 period is to *electronic music* what the 1964-1969 period was to pop/rock ... miraculous. To slice a narrow genre out of that period ... to leave out massively important Endtroducing (while getting Geogaddi right) ... distorts how great - and how wildly diverse and inventive - it was.
posted by Twang at 3:44 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


"Orb, Orbital, FSOL, Amon Tobin, Underworld"

Sorry, not obscure enough. That is, not intelligent enough for this list.

I kid, I like it all. A lot of this list I probably listened to a bit 15 years ago but have since forgotten about, great to rediscover it, still feels fresh new and interesting.
posted by thefool at 4:54 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Telefon Tel Aviv not being on the list is criminal.

Underworld too.
posted by synthetik at 5:43 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]



I was a little surprised that I had heard only about 10 or albums on this list and many of the names that I thought would show up here: Gas, Monolake, Gridlock, FSOL (Future Sound of London), Global Communication, The Field didn't.

I guess I listen to more Ambient Techno then? I'm confused on the difference between the two and I see them used interchangeably.
posted by fizzix at 11:16 AM on January 27


Gas is actually represented here, in the sense that Wolfgang Voigt is both M:I:5 and one-half of Burger/Ink. Similarly, Jan Jelinek is Farben.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:54 AM on January 27


Gas, Monolake, The Field, at least some Global Communication are def more techno-ish. FSOL are harder to categorize and did different things. I don't remember Gridlock, just the DnB Gridlok. But then the original Selected Ambient Works is also more techno-ish. I guess one could either use "IDM" as a big tent classification for non-dance music, or use it for the otherwise unclassifiable stuff, or not really use it (I'm somewhere between options 2 and 3 at this point.)

I'm a big fan of Underworld but aren't they more, you know, actual dance music?
posted by atoxyl at 12:06 PM on January 27


No Chemical Brothers? Puzzling.

White dance music for people who don't actually dance.


oh, indeed
posted by Sebmojo at 12:35 PM on January 27


nthing the idea that IDM was more of a era than an actual genre, and lasted from around 1991 to 1994 or 1995.
If anything, it's... dunno, post-techno, using the instruments and vocabulary of techno to do something very different. A lot of it would now be fitted into minimal, glitch, ambient/illbient, chill-out, chillwave, vaporwave, drum and bass and so on, genres that likely would be a different without the original Artificial Intelligence 1 and 2 artists pushing the envelope of electronic music.

I don't like "IDM" as a genre because of that. Even if I use it on bandcamp.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:19 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


The "I" bit is just asking for mockery.
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I guess I love IDM because at least 5 of my all time favorite albums are on this list...

I don't know much about the genre other than hearing it brought up in the past, but this is actually excellent because there is a decent amount of stuff that I"m unfamiliar with here, so lots to listen to over the weekend.

I originally wanted to say Flying Lotus' album should've been higher, but it's tough to argue once you go through the list.
posted by cell divide at 4:27 PM on January 27


Over on WATMM forum they have an annual 'what is the most IDM thing?' competition.

Previous winners have been:

- Beards
- Deep Sea Creatures
- Black Holes
- Large Hadron Collider
- Antarctica
- Nikola Tesla

Usually a compilation album is then produced in tribute. Ullillillia was often in the running but never made it to the final.

This year the final of 'most IDM thing' was between:

- Wearing headphones without listening to anything
- Not spending time outside, but instead listening to music that portrays unusually spacious scenes

The headphones won. Not sure how they're going to make a compilation about that.
posted by memebake at 4:37 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


The headphones won. Not sure how they're going to make a compilation about that.

Have you listened to SND’s back catalogue? Because it contains quite a bit of “Did I accidentally hit ‘pause’?” music.

Unrelatedly, it’s too bad that Frank Bretschneider’s Rhythm isn’t on the list. (YouTube) It’s not surprising, because Brettschneider’s album wasn’t a big deal, is fairly late to the genre, and SND has a better claim to the particularly aggressive minimalism that Brettschneider practiced, but it was a lovely find at the time - and more properly dancey than SND’s stuff.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:17 PM on January 27


Speaking as an Old Person who has been interested in electronic music since the 80s, I'm surprised that I only own four of the albums on this list. I'm pleasantly surprised, though, that they happen to be the top four.*

I guess my tastes lean more toward trance/techno/big beat so I've skirted the "IDM" scene. But based on the limited amount I know, any list that has Autechre and Boards of Canada on it covers such a huge range that it's preposterous to say something like "Orbital isn't IDM".

Why isn't anything from William Orbit on the list? Too musical to be IDM? Too successful?

Musical genres and those who obsessively categorize songs drive me crazy.

Thanks, GTM, though, for the awesome links! I'll definitely find some new favorites here!

* Okay, I also own #27, but that sounded better.
posted by mmoncur at 6:21 PM on January 27


Long time IDM listener and massive Ae fan. I found Elseq a return to form for Ae. Been listening to it a lot and regularly stop what I'm doing to groove. Draft 7.30 should be on this list.

I'm ok with the top four, but would swap the Aphex album positions. And Amon Tobin definitely deserves a slot, particularly given how high Rounds is.

Plenty here I dont know, so thanks for the post GtM.
posted by bigZLiLk at 6:25 PM on January 27


IDM was more of a era than an actual genre, and lasted from around 1991 to 1994 or 1995.

Pretty much this. I've said it before on here (can't be bothered to fish out the link) but IDM was more of a reaction to the state of electronic music in the late 80's and early 90's. It was boosted by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 in the UK - more than half of the releases on the list originate from UK based artists who hit their peak around the 1994 to 1998 years. Autechre even released an EP directly referencing this for fucks sake! They weren't the only artists to do so.

There has been a shit load of really good electronic music released over the past decade that easily falls into the IDM category, some of those releases are much better (IMO) than several releases on this list, but the IDM category is so broad that it doesn't have meaning any more (the preamble in the first link addresses this).
posted by lawrencium at 5:39 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


The track Szamár Madár by Venetian Snares (from #27 Rossz Csillag Alatt Született, 2005) is worth listening to if you've never heard it. It seems like its going to be an intro forever but its just taking its time to set the scene. Around 2:30 it will pick you up and fling you across the continent.
posted by memebake at 2:25 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I do like Rossz Csillag, but I sort of feel like its success is due to the fact that Aphex/Twin never made an album of material identical to “Girl/Boy Song”, especially since the album itself is so different from the rest of Venetian Snares’s catalog.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:28 PM on January 28


Oh, hey, just figured out FSOL have a new one out - Emviroments 6.5... it's pretty great, in places amazing. No idea if it is "IDM".
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Sorry to keep posting but The Black Dog is one of my favorites of all time as well. They have many excellent Radio Dogma shows available online.

Music for Real Airports was quite well received in the modern era for them, and though no one noticed it I do think that Radio Scarecrow is a fun little retro album.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:34 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Is Witches Ov on that? Love that track.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on January 28


That's the one.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:00 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Gonna have to spin that up next .
posted by Artw at 3:03 PM on January 28


It seems that Enviroments 6.5 is only half of Enviroments 6... I need to keep my ear to the ground more.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on January 28


White dance music for people who don't actually dance.

Ignorant old here, do people really dance to this? Despite the D, it seems too chill and glitchy-beated to do anything more than the classic "dude half-bounce," or random arty movements to. it sounds like what the DJ plays around last call to move people toward their coats.
posted by msalt at 10:08 PM on January 28


Ah, see, that's what makes it "intelligent".
posted by Artw at 10:11 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


When I've seen it performed live, the crowd is essentially indistinguishable from a Sunny Day Real Estate concert. Head nodding and ear-shouting to friends.
posted by rhizome at 10:23 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


It's possible to rave to IDM and serious DnB. However, you have to be very choosey about which beats you notice and which you ignore. And, as noted above, most everyone else will just be nodding their heads.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:29 PM on January 28


Think of it as self-directed choreography. It's helpful to know where the beats are in advance.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:30 PM on January 28


Drum and Bass has roots in dance music and is itself a dance music, and IDM is beats for people who don't like to dance. This is why Ninja Tune, pre-AI Warp, and FSOL are missing: too much physicality in the music. Nowadays, however, popular artists are taking the rhythmic and textural innovations of IDM and experimental electronic music and applying them to more accessible forms, so IDM becomes calcified and historical. I can't imagine how insufferable the IDM mailing list is nowadays.
posted by rhizome at 11:01 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Ignorant old here, do people really dance to this?

I've seen people start a mosh pit with Two Door Cinema Club. I'm pretty sure the right people could crank a few moves to Maetl or Polygon Window.

It's worth keeping in mind that while not being party music, this would sound very different in a early to mid-90s, LFO approved loud-as-you-can sound system, very much like watching a gig at a festival 10 yards from the stage PA is not the same as hearing it from some headphones or even a sensibly-sized sub-woofer.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:32 AM on January 29


Polygon Window is VERY beat heavy, absolutely would dance.
posted by Artw at 8:36 AM on January 29


There's also big differences between how a lot of these acts would handle a studio album, a live set and a DJ set, as well.
posted by Artw at 8:37 AM on January 29


autechre, for instance, appears to treat live performance as a 90 minute opportunity to troll the audience
posted by murphy slaw at 10:15 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]




Lots of the PitchFork Top IDM playlists on Google Music too. I subscribed to the one from Jason Menzies which is in descending order.
posted by bolix at 7:24 AM on February 9


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