A taxonomy of electronic music

April 20, 2008

I mentioned in a previous post that getting into techno is a little overwhelming. One of the reasons why is the large number of genres and subgenres. Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music (check your speaker volume before clicking) is an excellent place to go to codify the bits of music and the artists that you’ve heard or heard of. It’s a taxonomy of electronic music of all sorts, with an opening tutorial and brief descriptions of the different styles. It’s written in a highly opinionated, pull-no-punches style whose primary redeeming feature is that it balances acrimony with enthusiasm: here’s a sample:

Motherfucking electro! Kraftwerk invented it in 1971. Hip hop hijacked it in 1981. Everyone forgot it by 1991. And then everyone started releasing “Hey! Remember Kraftwerk?” albums in 2001. Goes to show how much things run full circle. All electronic music everywhere pretty much owe [sic]  its existence to Kraftwerk. Right next to James Brown and The Beatles, they are the most influential musicians of all time. It also doesn’t hurt that robots are so totally wicked fucking awesome.

But the real reason to put up with the annoying Flash and non-Edward-Tufte-approved design is for the audio samples of songs from the different genres. If you’ve ever wanted to know the difference between minimal and microhouse, between Ibiza- and Goa-style trance, or between jungle and drum’n’bass (or if you just want to know what those genres are), this is the site. Sit yourself down in front of a computer with decent speakers, give yourself a bit of time, and mess around.


  1. I love minimal techno! I started listening to techno in the mid-90s, but then went completely into house music. I thought vocal house was great stuff, especially the music from places like Detroit and San Francisco. Then I started listening to more progressive house, then trance and finally got stuck in drum n bass, where I’ve been hooked for the past 5 years. But I still love my techno and I think minimal is a great direction for the genre. By the way, Dominik Eulberg’s tune is deep! Who else do you listen to?

  2. Thanks for the response! I’m still exploring the world of minimal and figuring out what I like – right now I’m listening to Phonique, GummiHz, Ellen Allien and Alex Smoke. And I love Dominik Eulberg.

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