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Invite to Participate in Graduate Research: "IDM as Popular Music"


headplastic
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4 hours ago, toaoaoad said:

Hey @headplastic,  SIGN or PLUS? 

PLUS, but that was a hard one to answer... It's actually been the soundtrack to my writing for the past two weeks, marhide and TM1 open to be specific

How about you?

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5 hours ago, headplastic said:

PLUS, but that was a hard one to answer... It's actually been the soundtrack to my writing for the past two weeks, marhide and TM1 open to be specific

How about you?

Nice!  Well I pulled a switcheroo personally, PLUS hit harder at first and maybe I overplayed it a bit, whereas SIGN has been slowly unfolding and in the big picture feels like a more substantial and cohesive work. 

I ask because the SIGN/PLUS polarity tells a lot about a person much like an MBTI or astrological sign. You might want to include this in your paper, with a few case studies. 

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9 hours ago, toaoaoad said:

Nice!  Well I pulled a switcheroo personally, PLUS hit harder at first and maybe I overplayed it a bit, whereas SIGN has been slowly unfolding and in the big picture feels like a more substantial and cohesive work. 

I ask because the SIGN/PLUS polarity tells a lot about a person much like an MBTI or astrological sign. You might want to include this in your paper, with a few case studies. 

Hmmm, you've inspired me to go back to SIGN, although PLUS really feels like an extension or bonus track EP. As if they were like "Oh you liked that? Here's this"

Hahah I love it. I don't subscribe to the stars, but I could subscribe to weekly autechrescopes. I will ask the committee before I defend, "PLUS or SIGN?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

For anyone who is still interested, two questions have come up in my latest research and conversation with the community.

1. Some people have mentioned that listeners 'grow' into IDM/braindance, or that there is a bar of entry to the music/community.

2. I believe there are oppositional values in IDM, both in the popular images of big name artists (AFX, au, BoC, Squarepusher) and in the musical texts associated with the music (AI series, Rephlex braindance statement, squarepusher manifesto, The Philosophy of Sound and Machine). Oppositional in the sense that they reject mainstream, commercial EDM values, but hypocritical to a degree, in the sense that artists still need to make money and 'settle' with the reality of the multi-billion dollar industry. This idea comes from the fact that IDM/braindance is rooted in the rave scene which was considered oppositional. Is there a message inherent in this music?

AFX kind of touches on this in the Syrobonkers interview when talking about why he released Syro at the time he did, to sprinkle on some good music in a heap of commercial shit.

Any thoughts on these points? Happy to discuss

 

An update on my research if anyone is curious:
I am beginning to re-frame 'IDM' as an ideology that supports subcultural values in electronic music, such as creativity, social connection, imagination, playfulness, exploration, and adaptation. We see this as evident in the evolving, dynamic musical output from artists like Autechre and Aphex, even BoC. Not so much Squarepusher, IMO, although he speaks a lot about anti-mainstream in interviews, his music output seems to be more in-line with mainstream values. Totally up for debate on that. Therefore, the term IDM is useless as a genre classification or musical style descriptor. Not just because it's ugly, elitist, and clearly unaccepted, but also because it is often conflated with other music style descriptors or genres (ambient, techno, experimental, leftfield, absract, etc. etc.). Any thoughts on this are welcome, of course.

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9 minutes ago, brian trageskin said:

side note: idm fans are no different than furry fans. i'm not even kidding

furry fans get laid a lot more i think. no one ever got laid because of an IDM gig

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31 minutes ago, headplastic said:

1. Some people have mentioned that listeners 'grow' into IDM/braindance, or that there is a bar of entry to the music/community.

i know for me i found it difficult to listen to some music, i found it abrasive and unpleasant unironically.  this includes analord, the tuss, some autechre, some aphex.  it took my ears a while to adjust and i only did it because i trusted my friend that it was good music and because i could tell it was something very special.  and it ended up being my absolute favorite

4 minutes ago, ignatius said:

furry fans get laid a lot more i think. no one ever got laid because of an IDM gig

speak for yourself.  every time i wear my aphex shirt in public the women cant resist me, its like they sense the superior taste and it has a pheremone like effect on them.  in fact at times the scent is so strong they have to run the opposite direction

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47 minutes ago, headplastic said:

the sense that artists still need to make money and 'settle' with the reality of the multi-billion dollar industry.

I mean...aphex airlines is a thing...

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56 minutes ago, ignatius said:

no one ever got laid because of an IDM gig

i've been cockblocked by aphex twin tracks on at least two occasions

a documentary about the furry subculture with an idm soundtrack would be pretty good tho ngl. it'd be like the movie pi in every way except instead of eating pie they'd be porkin in mascot costumes

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1. Some people have mentioned that listeners 'grow' into IDM/braindance, or that there is a bar of entry to the music/community.

When I got into IDM, it was at a time where I was interested in electronic music, but put off by too much repetition/simplicity, predictable beat patterns, and production that was far less advanced than what I was expecting, considering that's where all the new technology was being explored (in theory).  I always loved the sounds that would come up in techno/industrial/whatever, but after 8 bars I'd be be bored.  It seemed like there was so much more room to be more melodic, more creative with the beats, more complex, more original.  Since it was an area of music unhindered by the limitations of human performance, the compositional possibilities were endless.  So why was it all so basic?  That was my frustration with electronic music in general, with my fairly limited cultural understanding of it.  Then I heard Confield/Druqs and was like "fucking finally."  Confield was such a relief to hear - loved it immediately.  Drukqs I was weirded out by some of the production choices, but I found it extremely compelling, and probably listened to it more than any other album the year I bought it.  With Squarepusher my first reaction was "this sounds like a frustrated jazz musician who couldn't find a drummer to keep up" hahaha... which I think is a pretty fair assessment for much of it.  Then I heard Go Plastic and had my world blown open once again.  Anyway... how does this relate to the question... Oh right, so as for "growing in" to IDM - it was more a case of other electronic music not fitting in with where I was at in my own musical growth, and finally finding an electronic movement that appealed to my musical sensibilities.  I was also making music at that point that was in the same realm, although with more industrial influence.  Would have been labeled "dark IDM" or some shit ahahaha...

 

2. I believe there are oppositional values in IDM, both in the popular images of big name artists (AFX, au, BoC, Squarepusher) and in the musical texts associated with the music (AI series, Rephlex braindance statement, squarepusher manifesto, The Philosophy of Sound and Machine). Oppositional in the sense that they reject mainstream, commercial EDM values, but hypocritical to a degree, in the sense that artists still need to make money and 'settle' with the reality of the multi-billion dollar industry. This idea comes from the fact that IDM/braindance is rooted in the rave scene which was considered oppositional. Is there a message inherent in this music?

Absolutely not.  Individual artists may have their own messages, but I think that's pretty rare in this scene.  Most make it out of the pure joy of self-expression.  I find the idea of anyone here making it for reasons beyond that quite unlikely.  I doubt any of us would be conflicted about suddenly being able to make a living from our music.

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33 minutes ago, Zephyr_Nova said:

Absolutely not.  Individual artists may have their own messages, but I think that's pretty rare in this scene.  Most make it out of the pure joy of self-expression.  I find the idea of anyone here making it for reasons beyond that quite unlikely.  I doubt any of us would be conflicted about suddenly being able to make a living from our music.

Yeah, good point there. I don't think the intentions of the music are to make statements or send political messages, but I do think the popular image that has been constructed for IDM involves the values I outlined above. There doesn't have to be intent behind music to give it meaning, especially in popular culture. Aphex has mentioned that he felt the public just wasn't ready to hear some of what he's made, I find that interesting from a commercial and artistic perspective.

@cwmbrancity yes that's a good read, I support that recommendation to anyone interested in this kind of discussion. Alwakeel offers interesting theories on IDM and the continuous variation of its identity, as well as its dynamic rejection of any norm. My work builds on his breakdown of IDM from a popular music perspective. As a "minor language," IDM cannot be defined as a static entity, for its very nature is dynamic and evolving. Humour and playfulness are key ingredients to its success. But it's clearly more than just a style of music

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A chronology would help to the uninitiated.

S.A.W. probably means different things today than when it was released in 1992 when there was nothing else like it (see Weatherall’s shift in mix set lists around the same time as a parallel).

@headplasticWhere would you place an act like Coil?

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1 minute ago, headplastic said:

...I do think the popular image that has been constructed for IDM involves the values I outlined above...

I think it's more that the people making the music tend to be thoughtful, and find a lot of the really commercial stuff out there to be cheesy/disposable.  So naturally they don't want to be associated with it, but I don't think their issue is that more mainstream artists are making good money.  It's more that it tends to be rather insubstantial, slick production aside... or "kind of shit" as they say.  The IDM scene is so scattered that I don't think any unifying ethos was ever really established, beyond the creative approach to making it.  But there is a sort of person who's more likely to gravitate towards it of course.

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43 minutes ago, cwmbrancity said:

A chronology would help to the uninitiated.

S.A.W. probably means different things today than when it was released in 1992 when there was nothing else like it (see Weatherall’s shift in mix set lists around the same time as a parallel)

I’d say even today there’s very little like SAW 85-92 or the AB material. Think of the opening pads of Tha or Xtal, or the beautiful use of space in the chord progression of Sloth. Even the starkness of Polygon Window. That early Aphex material was and remains hauntingly beautiful and stands alone. The closest I think anyone got to it (and I don’t mean in a technical sense, rather the emotional overlay imbued in the music) is probably Mike Paradinas on some of his rephlex releases (Sick Porter 2 remains one of my favourite tracks in the multiverse). Anyhow, I can think of not much like those early Aphex/AFX releases. 
 

edit: @cwmbrancity I’m no disagreeing with you by the way that they mean something different in today’s context. 

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1 hour ago, cwmbrancity said:

Where would you place an act like Coil?

Hard to say in terms of music style, I'm thinking about Love's Secret Domain, but it could be considered 'IDM' before IDM was introduced as a descriptor, by that I mean a real exploration of what the tech and other music influences had to offer. I believe the first documented mention of 'intelligent techno' is associated with Coil's The Snow EP, and that's dated 1991. It seems that incredibly adventurous forms of techno emerged around the early 90s. I believe the term electronica came later. To get away from IDM as a genre/style term, I'm re-framing it differently. It's important to remember that IDM is from an American perspective, too.

@Zephyr_Nova brings up a great point, since the community is so scattered it's difficult to define it as an ethos. Maybe a philosophy works better? I believe IDM describes something beyond the music itself, whether it's an approach to making music or something else. Whatever it is, it has stuck around for 25+ years for good reason, and has been used in popular culture but not appropriately. I think it can be argued that it might represent [Edit: the values lost in the rave subculture with the commercialization of electronic dance music*], but I'm still wondering how you guys might also re-frame it.

@chenGOD Yeah I see what you mean. I've been dying for AFX to release the "old saw era track" he played at Field Day 2017 (I find the brief stop at @2:40 so cheeky, pulls great energy from the crowd). An untouchable era. The late 80s and early 90s also saw the rise of electronic music 'auteurs'. Aphex may as well be considered something of the sort, same with Mike P, Luke V, Squarepusher, Autechre, the lot of them. Bedroom studios helped in that regard
 

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19 hours ago, brian trageskin said:

side note: idm fans are no different than furry fans. i'm not even kidding

oh brian, how many more of your bizarre fetishes are you going to drag out into the open here...the scientific community is finally taking note of us, and you're smudging it up with kink. 

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