Ishkur's guide to electronic music updated for 2019
August 20, 2019 2:06 AM   Subscribe

Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music was one of the early influential web-based guides to electronic music, spanning decades and dozens of genres. It was also an early Flash app that provided a visual interface to music and how different genres were influenced by each other with samples of prominent songs in each genre. Ishkur has updated the guide for 2019 with a new interface AND has a 2 GB 3.5 hour mix that spans decades and multiple genres.
posted by gen (58 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sorry, the mix is 15 hours long, not 3.5 hours. And there have been so many previous posts about Ishkur's original guide, I got tired trying to figure out which ones to list. His original guide has been linked to Metafilter over 70 times.
posted by gen at 2:07 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


I now realize that Ishkur's site is still advertising-free, which is amazing. I'm not sure how he can afford the bandwidth.
posted by gen at 2:16 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Beat me to the punch, was going to get around to a post tomorrow. Though it's for the best as I hadn't come across that mix, just the guide update.

(one way of acknowledging previouslies when there are too many is to just link to the search results)
posted by juv3nal at 2:48 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOR TWENTY FUCKING YEARS.
posted by loquacious at 2:52 AM on August 20 [20 favorites]


(Or whatever. I can't remember how many years it's been. I'm old and I'll rave your face off and send you home in an ambience.)
posted by loquacious at 2:54 AM on August 20 [12 favorites]


THIS IS AMAZING IT'S GOING TO START SO MANY ARGUMENTS IT'S LIKE IT'S 2001 AND THE WORLD IS ENDING ALL OVER AGAIN.
posted by loquacious at 2:59 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]




Oh, yes! I was thinking about this just the other day.

I started writing about the cool features I had discovered, but then I found that the hamburger menu on the right has a "How to use" section. So you could just consult that.

Thanks for sharing, gen!
posted by Harald74 at 4:23 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


This just might be the best news I've seen all year.
posted by ourobouros at 4:40 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Direct link to The Longplay in case you want to save on your device (right click and choose save as)
posted by dobbs at 5:55 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


And there have been so many previous posts about Ishkur's original guide, I got tired trying to figure out which ones to list. His original guide has been linked to Metafilter over 70 times.

There's a bunch of mentions in comments, but I'm only seeing two full posts and a previously.

Illbient, Neurotrance, VGM, Psytekk...., September 2003
electronic music guide, February 2005
Sailing the seven seas of Microhouse, August 2016
posted by zamboni at 6:26 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I no longer labor under the illusion that Ishkur's is even remotely definitive, but it was worth it for this:

"Fun fact: Typing ASMR or MRSA into Youtube search brings up two vast communities of videos, both fascinating but for opposite reasons."
posted by Foosnark at 6:37 AM on August 20 [8 favorites]


The fact that Drum 'n' Bass is the major category and jungle is presented as a subset of it is just ahistorical.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:39 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


freaking splitters
posted by thelonius at 7:14 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


grumpybear69: The fact that Drum 'n' Bass is the major category and jungle is presented as a subset of it is just ahistorical.

But it wouldn't be Ishkur's Guide if it didn't have glaring errors ;) After all, the first guide was thrown together in "about two weeks," and "several biases here are celebrated lavishly" (2014 version of the Wikipedia article).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:19 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I loved the original. It's stayed with me for two decades (rounding up). I'm not even a big electronic music fan, but I was able to use it to learn more about what I did like and how to identify it (Disco, New Wave, and - for whatever reason - Happy Hardcore).
posted by jb at 7:22 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


It took me a while to find a genre he didn't despise.

I suspect the reason why Drum 'n' Bass is the major category and jungle is the subset is explained where he breaks out 'Pendulum' into its own genre. I think his contention is that drum 'n' bass, and specifically Pendulum, consumed jungle to the point that jungle became a sub-genre.
posted by Merus at 7:27 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


jb: I was able to use it to learn more about what I did like and how to identify it (Disco, New Wave, and - for whatever reason - Happy Hardcore)

Because you like non-stop happy beats? Grinning like an idiot or bopping continuously for hours? Or maybe just staying awake for long drives. [Happy Hardcore previously :) ]

Also, if you want to learn more about specific genres, Chrissy Murderbot's year of mixtapes is still up, where you can read a bit of history about different genres, and enjoy an hour or so of music [previously].
posted by filthy light thief at 7:56 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Site feels a bit overloaded, click on genres to play took awhile but did eventually work. Patience is advised.

There's a map tile server for the images for the zoomable timeline. That cracks me up.
posted by Nelson at 7:56 AM on August 20


Leading with Orbital’s The Box is an interesting choice, but one that I fully endorse on this overcast SF day.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:39 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Ishkur also introduced me to the Chariots Of The Gods theories about Mesopotamian dieties actually being warring extraterrestrials, one of whom (YHWH) defeated the others. This was an attractive idea when I was young and also reading Snow Crash.
posted by migurski at 8:41 AM on August 20


Wait'll you discover Stargate.
posted by Nelson at 8:44 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Merus: I think his contention is that drum 'n' bass, and specifically Pendulum, consumed jungle to the point that jungle became a sub-genre.

I get what you're saying, and my discomfort is not towards you, but related to Ishkur's writing.
Pendulum is not the name of this genre. It's technically called Nu Jumpup or Nu Skool Jumpup but I call it Pendulum because Pendulum is more than just an artist or a genre.

It is an event.
Nah bruv, it's still a band.

In more detail, they're called "an Australian drum and bass and electronic rock band" on Wikipedia, and I get that they expanded DnB to include industrial/ electronic rock, and they play guitars and shit in their live shows, but they're still a band. Don't try to make Pendulum a thing.

On the other hand, if you're going to name sub-genres after notable bands, that would be an interesting exercise in itself, with London Elektricity as Liquid Funk or Jazzstep, Reese instead of Darkstep, etc.

(And I'm transported back in time, fighting over genres on the internet all over again -- well done, Ishkur! ;) )
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


This has made my day. Thank you!
posted by Monochrome at 9:55 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Been listening to the mix and it's good. A bit chill, maybe even toothless, but then I've only listened to 90 minutes or so. The mixing itself is quite sly, very nice transitions.
posted by Nelson at 11:17 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]




I make electronic music in a spoken word context and have for decades now, and the obsession of creating narrower and narrower genres to create a desperately intricate and forever contentious taxonomy of genre always just made me scratch my head and wonder what possible purpose that level of micromanagement of expectations serves...except, as I've been gearing up for my gleefully anticipated annual pilgrimage to synthesizer camp, I was lamenting to another pilgrim about the ridiculously bad gender balance in electronic music and looking at that fussy little chart reminded me that dudes love nothing more than to create desperately intricate and forever contentious taxonomies. Yeesh.

Of course, there's something satisfying about drilling down into that map and not finding anything remotely like what I've been doing except for the long, blank tail of "soundtracks" and "experimental," where they place Laurie Anderson, and dang if that isn't perfectly good company in which to find myself. I don't feel super-experimental, except for my love of 7TET, which is largely my way of sidestepping my stupidty about conventional music theory, but I'm okay with life in the periphery.
posted by sonascope at 11:59 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Don't try to make Pendulum a thing.

Man, I was just arguing (elsewhere) that there's a kind of dancefloor DnB that doesn't really have a name, that became very dominant in the late 00s - and that this is probably Pendulum's "fault." So, uh, I think maybe Pendulum is a genre?

I don't agree with Ishkur about it being "neo-jump-up" though. Jump-up as a genre with a different sound exists contemporaneously.
posted by atoxyl at 12:28 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


I don't actually have anything against Pendulum but I think they did kick off a trend of DnB becoming slicker, synthier and poppier. Everything becoming 2-step was already happening, though.
posted by atoxyl at 12:42 PM on August 20


Heh, waxy was just talking about the update and I too came here thinking about posting.

One thing I haven't figured out is if there's any good way to link to a given genre or genre+year entry; I'm enjoying some stuff on the Fakebit page but not clear there's anything to say other than "it's a subgenre under Chiptune, go watch the embedded Video Computer System video because it's good".
posted by cortex at 12:53 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Looked up one of my favourite artists - Stephan Bodzin. Ishukur puts him in the Minimal Tech genre, about which Ishkur says:
"Minimal Tech very much has the look, feel and maturity of wind down music for ravers in their 40s who have long-since discontinued the practice of getting totally thrashed like they did back in the 90s. They restrict themselves to partying in penthouses/rooftops, swanky lofts, and yachts.

Our music choices mellow out as we age. Yours will too if it hasn't happened already and you're not one of those types who is always living in the past with the radio dial stuck on the classic rock station and insisting to anyone within earshot that music peaked in 1974 aka the year you first got laid."
Motherfucker.

I feel personally and very accurately attacked.
posted by happyinmotion at 12:54 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Our music choices mellow out as we age. Yours will too if it hasn't happened already and you're not one of those types who is always living in the past with the radio dial stuck on the classic rock station and insisting to anyone within earshot that music peaked in 1974 aka the year you first got laid."

To be honest, I think one of the finest years for music was 1975, which was still a year before I was conceived, let alone sexually active.
posted by jb at 1:51 PM on August 20


I'm unsurprised to see a lot of people reacting to it by diving in and nitpicking about their genre of choice, as if it's a new release of the Official International Standard For Categorization Of Electronic Music Into Explicit And Unambiguous Genres. The thing is, it's not, it's a guide. A tour guide doesn't walk you round the sights and tell you the street address of each one - a really good tour guide will give you a feel for the shared history, the culture and philosophy that gave rise to each part; they'll say "hey check this out" instead of reciting the rather dry paragraph you already read somewhere else - ideally they'll have some sort of personal affinity or connection that they can use to make the whole thing come alive for you, and this is an inherently subjective process with which you're always free to disagree. Sure, it's very gonzo, and he's obviously and unapologetically writing from a particular perspective, but I've never found another online music guide which gives you such a good feel for it.

What I really love about the guide (compared to others) is that he's very clearly managed to leave his bedroom at least a couple of times and be in the middle of things. It's the little details, like the completely trashed dude staring at the UV wall hangings for psytrance, or the "why does Ronan Harris get all the credit" whinge for Futurepop, or the writeup for Noise - it seems pretty clear that the whole thing is rooted in real experience. He's often quite mean about genres I personally rather like but I rarely if ever find his arguments baseless; more often I find them shamefully accurate.

On the other hand noticed I my jaw stiffening up within the first couple of pages, so I can't exactly claim to be objective about this either.
posted by doop at 1:54 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


SO MANY ARGUMENTS ALL OVER THE INTERNET THIS IS GLORIOUS

Ok, so if this is anyone's first rodeo with Ishkuer's guide: tearing down and being blase and snarky about basically everything is kind of the point.

If you find yourself getting mad or confused about anything that's perfectly normal.

As I recall it was originally not meant to be a serious guide at all and was more lampooning and taking the piss out of the dozens/hundreds of microgenres that bloomed like so many different, pretty mushrooms in the mid to late 1990s. The battles between IDM vs, EDM, Happy Hardcore vs. Rotterdam Hardcore, Deep House vs. Progressive house, what was club music and what was really rave or underground, ad nauseum.

Somewhere out there in internet history on various Usenet groups and group regional rave mailing lists there are gigabytes of plain text of people very seriously arguing and debating all of this stuff in dizzying, decadent minutiae.

Part of the layered fun of Ishkur's Guide is directly lampooning and attacking those tropes and often endlessly repeated arguments and debates from the inside. I'm not sure how well it maps today but in version 1.0 and 2.0 there were a lot of really spicy inside jokes and direct attacks on this culture of overthinking electronic music, so some of the subtextual jokes aren't even about the music genre or subgenre itself but the nerds talking about it.

The fact that Ishkur's Guide ends up being any kind of functional or useful map of the territory of electronic music is purely incidental and accidental, really.
posted by loquacious at 2:18 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


I love it. I found the original decades ago and it opened doors for me. I just wonder why the genres continually split apart. Shouldn't some of the branches join others as they grow together and continue as one?
posted by hypnogogue at 2:27 PM on August 20


Our music choices mellow out as we age.

And this is how my fuck-all-guitars-and-stupid-moldy-old-stringed-instruments-are-for-rubes stance turned into my owning a mountain dulcimer, which I play with a feather and a little stick like my great-great-grandmother on the porch of her farmhouse down by the river.

More than mellowing, I blame Harry Partch, Gibson Lifestyle Products LLC's demolition of Opcode Systems, and the late realization that all those great synthy keyboard sounds on my favorite Can albums were somehow made without synthesizers. For me, it's the recombinant DNA of genres all crashing together that makes things more interesting and fun, like how dubstep makes me want to stuff my ears with fluff, but elements of dubstep mixed into 1930s dance music suddenly just sort of works and mountain dulcimer goes fabulously with modular synthesis.
posted by sonascope at 2:33 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


*hides gigabytes of field recordings and noodly-arp ambient synth stems*
posted by loquacious at 2:39 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Ishkur: (note: I do not consider the UK to be Euro, so Brit labels like Paper Recordings, Pagan, Glasgow Underground, Dedicated, and all the rest of it are in the US Deep House section)

I love how Brexit makes it into the guide ;)
posted by gen at 3:11 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


loquacious: Somewhere out there in internet history on various Usenet groups and group regional rave mailing lists

For me that was rec.music.acid-jazz in the mid 90s and the SoCal Raves mailing list in the late 90s.
posted by gen at 3:13 PM on August 20


tearing down and being blase and snarky about basically everything is kind of the point

Yep. If you can't read the snark without your defensive hackles going up, an instructive exercise is to try to hunt down a subgenre he expresses an unalloyed and unsarcastic admiration for. I'm pretty sure it's not there. Which should be telling because anyone who doesn't love electronic music wouldn't have taken the time to put this thing together.
posted by juv3nal at 4:38 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I'm still trying to figure out of loquacious saying they would send me home in an ambience was deliberate wordplay given the subject matter or a typo. If it wasn't deliberate wordplay, they should claim it was because it's brilliant.
posted by hippybear at 5:59 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


My 1337 h4x0r skills have revealed to me there are additional (shorter, genre-specific) mixes in the same directory as that 15 hour long one.
posted by juv3nal at 6:51 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Oh great. I thought I had only ONE new thing to listen to. THANKS a LOT.
posted by hippybear at 6:54 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Tip for people looking to listen to that megamix in a way which might be more manageable:
MP3splt worked pretty well as a command-line tool for me.
Borrowing from this Stack Exchange answer worked for the formatting: mp3splt Ishkur_-_The_Longplay.mp3 -g %[@N=0,@o] -o "@n @f" -t 61.0
(61 minute chunks so that way there wouldn't be an 11-second chunk at the end)
posted by CrystalDave at 6:57 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


A ha! So you can link to given subgenre writeups like this:

http://music.ishkur.com/?query=Fakebit

Also, here's that Golden Shower - Video Computer System video I mentioned enjoying.
posted by cortex at 6:58 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


I'm still trying to figure out of loquacious saying they would send me home in an ambience was deliberate wordplay given the subject matter or a typo.

Deliberate and stolen from - I believe - Mixmaster Morris. It's so old it goes back to very early 1990s oribital parties in the UK. I think Irresistible Force or someone even had T-shirts of some variation of the slogan.
posted by loquacious at 12:07 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


The absence of vaporwave, a genre that is ~10 years old and has arguable subgenres such as mallsoft, eccojams, vaportrap, &c.,is a rather prominent blind spot.
posted by acb at 4:46 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


an instructive exercise is to try to hunt down a subgenre he expresses an unalloyed and unsarcastic admiration for. I'm pretty sure it's not there.

He's pretty positive on funk, but it's not one of the core genres of the guide either.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:56 AM on August 21


The absence of vaporwave, a genre that is ~10 years old and has arguable subgenres such as mallsoft, eccojams, vaportrap, &c.,is a rather prominent blind spot.

The FAQ explains that he doesn't care about genres that can't support a real-life scene. I would bet actual money that vaporwave has not been performed live, other than as a prank. I know enough about vaporwave to know that people have been proclaiming it dead for about as long as it's been alive.
posted by Merus at 8:10 AM on August 21


I think there are a few vapowave artists that perform, and definitely a few who made music that will continue to be listened to down the line (e.g. 2 8 1 4). You could probably argue, though, that those artists are stylistically mostly not that far outside the boundaries of existing ambient/downtempo.
posted by atoxyl at 12:01 PM on August 21


Also I don't think it's true that he hated everything (in the original version). It was just opinionated. It's fun to reflect on his reactions to genres that were young at the time. For example he thought UK/2-step garage was "boring" just a couple years before it gave birth to the original dubstep scene. And he was uncharacteristically impressed by "neurofunk" DnB which I think was the right opinion at the time but which is a genre that you could definitely argue has gotten a bit stagnant now.
posted by atoxyl at 12:07 PM on August 21


Ishkur being wrong is inevitable. There is no authoritative map to this complex multi-dimensional terrain. It's fun making approximations to one though.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:21 PM on August 21


> My 1337 h4x0r skills have revealed to me there are additional (shorter, genre-specific) mixes in the same directory as that 15 hour long one.

They're (mostly?) also on Mixcloud, which is a slightly friendlier interface that won't hit ishkur's server hard.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:58 PM on August 22 [2 favorites]


For me, re-finding this site is always like re-finding TVTropes.org. IOW, there goes the entirety of my to-do list and the next 5 hours. Oh well!
posted by skye.dancer at 6:10 PM on August 22


This quote:
EBM is obsessed with the masculine projection of power, strength, force, brutality, aggression, and military-grade efficiency and productivity. It also has an obsession with wartime propaganda art and iconography....Even though it has the veneer of overt fascism, most EBM music is distinctly anti-fascist
reminds me of taking a German whom I had unkindly not briefed ahead of time to a VNV Nation concert. They spent the first few songs getting increasingly (and justifiably) uncomfortable at the aesthetic before Ronan Harris said something explicitly anti-fascist and the crowd screamed its approval.
posted by frimble at 2:12 AM on August 23


If there are others with a pack rat mentality getting allll the other mixes, heads up, it looks like wget and the https site don't resume well.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:49 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


freaking splitters
Lumper here. Top mix, and just an all-round good time. Been listening to it when I can. It appears to be starting to kick off at about the 9 hour mark, which is just about right. Thanks for posting this!
posted by carter at 5:59 PM on August 23


Put the Longmix on at work today, started it around 8am... sometime around 2 or 2:30 it got all dank and house-y and the whole thing felt like it took off for me. There is a LOT of noodly guitar in the first hours of the mix. Nice, though... sounded maybe like Pat Metheney.

It's one hell of a mix, though. Starts and then just keeps moving insistently forward. I heard one definite drop after it got housey, maybe there are more. We didn't even get halfway through it today.

So great, thanks so much for posting!
posted by hippybear at 5:59 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


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