IDM: Dance Music For Your Brain, Not Your Booty

Repetitive kick drum, heavy baselines, glowlight accessories, alcohol, drugs, LOUD, LOUD, LOUD! These are all commonly associated with modern club music, also known as EDM (Electronic Dance Music). This is not a new trend; anyone walking into a club should expect to be hearing this genre of music played at the highest possible volume.

EDM DJs/Producers have become the rockstars of the 21st centuries, selling out massive venues to thousands of bass-hungry youths. In recent years, the genre’s darkness has become more mainstream with the emergence of subgenres like DrumN’Bass, Dubstep, and Electro that push the levels of what is acceptable, what is palatable, and what the coked-out kids want pumping into their ear holes.

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“But I don’t like blaring noises, chest-crushing bass blasts, drinking, darkness, dancing, sweating, designer drugs, or other people and the monotony of traditional instruments makes every song sound the same,” you may be whining to yourself. Fret no longer, complainer of the arts, there is a solution for you called IDM.

IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) arose in the early 1990s with artists who were intrigued by the capabilities of what could be accomplished by making music using computers, but felt that following the guidelines of pre-established musical genres did not fulfill their potential. Focused on individual experimentation of sound rather than repackaging a successful product, artists such as Aphex Twin began releasing tracks that combined elements found in House music with ambient tones and soundscapes. The result has a home in both nightclubs and living rooms.

The term IDM has been met with some disdain, especially from EDM producers who are put down by the implied elitism of the genre’s moniker. As I see it, the label refers more to the audience than the musicians themselves, but Mellow, Intellectual, Loner-Stoner Dance Music doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. IDM artists are not inherently more talented, nor have they necessarily crafted their skill more aptly than EDM producers – it is merely a way to distinguish partying noise-addicts from subdued sonic-sculptors.

The key distinction here in tonality. Does the song make suburban mother’s shake their fists and neon hooligans run rampant? Then it’s EDM. Does the song build slowly with subtle changes in melody and rhythm, giving you space for contemplation and would probably sound better after a joint? That’s IDM.

Below is some IDM 101, because music was meant to be listened to. Put this on before thinking-over a decision.


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One thought on “IDM: Dance Music For Your Brain, Not Your Booty

  1. […] dance music, to a degree. It’s dark, heavy beats and oddstyle sampling give it more of an IDM feel, but it’s keeping me interested nonetheless. Turn off your lights, take off your […]

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