Spotlight: The Many Sub-Genres of Electronic Music

The Spotlight

Electronic music is intrinsically linked to technology. As the latter grows at an exponential rate, the umbrella genre is never far behind, evidenced by the myriad sub-genres that have developed, flourished, and disappeared since synthesizers, drum machines, and the PC became cheaper and more accessible. It would be a fool’s mission to enumerate every branch of electronic music over the course of the past 40 years, so we’ll eat our humble pie and stick with the most notable genres of the past couple of years.

Nu-Disco: The mid-range synths and four-on-the-floor beats of electro/nu-disco/electro house songs grew in popularity, predominantly in Europe and America, from 2005 onwards. Just as the UK re-embraced bass culture with the grime and dubstep, other cultures drew from two entirely distinct genres of the 70’s: disco and rock ‘n roll. Ed Banger records provides the best starting point, with label stalwarts Justice, Daft Punk, and recently deceased DJ Mehdi. Those three and beyond combined a love of distortion and vocal hooks with a pulsing rhythm, a sonic medium that has since taken over electronic music festivals such as Decibel in Seattle and Electric Zoo in New York for years.

Boston’s GaVris educates on electro and nu-disco sounds:

Dubstep: Allow me to soapbox for a moment: Skrillex and similar artists are not dubstep. Any song with the sound of fornicating, chainsaw aliens at the drop – not dubstep. Any song on YouTube with the parantheticals “Dubstep Remix” – nine out of ten times, not dubstep. What we have instead is an American bastardization of a genre born from roots reggae (Lee Perry and The Scientist kind of dub), UK garage (like house music, with more swing in the rhythms), and grime (London’s take on hip hop). ‘Dub’ traditionally signifies an adherence to bass frequencies, and the same applies to ‘dub’step. Born in the mid-2000s, dubstep emerged from the early productions of Skream, Benga, and Mala. A love for sub-bass – that is, frequencies hitting 70hz and below – half-step rhythms, and synth wobbles grew from an urban treasure to a worldwide mainstream phenomenom, following a similar trajectory as that of hip hop.

Benga and Coki‘s 2008 dubstep track, “Night”:

Future Garage: Once dubstep broke into the mainstream, a new trend emerged. The track that set off UK Garage’s ‘revival’ into that of future territory – the unequivocal “Hyph Mngo,” from Joy Orbison. DJ/producer/label head Scuba released the single through his imprint Hotflush, which became the be-all, end-all of furture garage during 2009. Triangulations set the standard, “Hyph Mngo” hit the peak, and Mount Kimbie broke the mould with their debut EP, Maybes, introducing the next loveable tag – post-dubstep – which has since evolved into the catch-all phrase, bass music.

Since 2006, more strains of electronic music than ever before have raised the emphasis on bass frequencies to unavoidable levels, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down – for now. 2011 has seen its fair share of stellar albums that have followed suit – MachineDrum‘s breathtaking album Rooms should hit the top of many end of year lists – but the scene has reached that point of redundancy where a new, provoking sound as yet to emerge. Which makes us all the more excited for 2012.

How to prepare for the coming year – study up on your Pearson Sound. Listen to his artist station on last.fm to start!

——————————————

For more brief lessons on the many electronic genres, click below to grab free music from the following styles:

Witch House

Post-Dilla

Chill-out and Ambient

Trip Hop

————————————————————–
Click here for our top downloads in electronic music