Ontario producer Dan Snaith’s 2001 debut offered an intriguing preview of what IDM might sound like were its austere and cold atmosphere to soften up just slightly. Cuspide Des Sirenes blends club music, world music and narrative ambition with sincerity and ambition.
Samples collide and collide, from the neighing horse that kicks off “Frontier Psychiatrist” to an electric theremin and beats that explode on “Electricity.” The result is vibrant, border-hopping and highly playful music.
1. Start Breaking My Heart by Dan Snaith
One of the key developments in electronic music during the 2000s was minimalism’s ascendency. Minimalism wasn’t simply a matter of stylistic choice – like in Clicks + Cuts or Michael Mayer’s lush Immer – it also served as an implicit directive for producers to perfect their craft, exploring ever deeper into realms where sonic sweep and meticulous detail become one.
Dan Snaith, better known as Manitoba (or Caribou), was among the pioneers to make this statement in 2001 with his debut Start Breaking My Heart album. Splicing rainbow melodies with lively hopscotch rhythm patterns and children laughing in playground settings created an album which can bring both tranquility and boisterous joy together to produce something truly special.
Snaith’s follow-up, Up in Flames, struck an even more emotional balance and has since proven timeless. With its hand drum rhythms, harp glissandi, and Balkan brass-band samples it rekindled left-field dance while dissuading overblown arena-trance from being popular.
2. Hard Normal Daddy by Squarepusher
Tom Jenkinson (known as Squarepusher) stands out among idm artists like Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares by creating an outstanding sound with his music. Instead of simply trying to stuff clicks and bleeps into his compositions, Squarepusher makes use of laiden keyboard sounds as well as danceable beats to create tracks such as “Coopers World”, with goofy sound effects and breakbeats giving an outer space feel; unfortunately if he attempts to change up his sound he often fails miserably; otherwise this album can only become amazing!
3. Immer by Michael Mayer
Immer is one of the best mixes from this decade and was key in introducing KOMPAKT to an even wider audience, serving as one of its cornerstones and ultimately becoming an iconic piece. Containing 4/4 club bombs as well as atmospheric ambient pads, Immer earned recognition from respected dance music publications such as PITCHFORK and FACT MAGAZINE with this mix being awarded as “Best Mix CD of the 00’s.”
Michael Mayer’s eccentric style has long caused contention with purists of deep house and Detroit techno, yet his gift for mixing tracks in ways that simultaneously hypnotize and intimate makes him an international club favorite. Here he explores even deeper into his sound by offering a sequel that’s both more personal and emotionally potent than its predecessor.
Mayer chose timeless musical moments from his record collection that invoke the emotional resonance found in rock, folk, or classical music – creating an engaging journey without boundaries of genre.
4. Massstab 1:5 by Wolfgang Voigt
The 2000s may be synonymous with dubstep, but it was also a time when drum and bass took on harder, more intricate forms; progressive house and techno continued their spread outwards; downtempo also deepened; classic house trance also kept rocking dancefloors, though their appeal diminished somewhat due to hardstyle and big beat styles.
Samples promised an endless number of sonic possibilities, yet few artists took full advantage of them with such abandon as Australian sextet The Avalanches did. From the neighing horse that hooks “Frontier Psychiatrist” to “Since I Left You,” their collection of refurbished tracks demonstrates one of this decade’s most playful experiments.
5. Tides by Arovane
Today’s electroclash queen Peaches may have found spiritual comfort with The Velvet Underground and overblown arena-trance is suffering an inevitable demise; but in the early 2000s raw electronic music flourished freely – from cheap-and-nasty EDM like house or ambient techno to wild jungle/d’n’b techno and dubstep being all popular choices for an audience hungry for raw dance music.
Tides by German producer Arovane on City Centre Offices is an album that bridges both worlds. While some tracks capture the feel of a real marine environment and landscape – such as “Olopp Eleen” with its harpsichord etudes or Bill Frisell-inspired impressionist guitar of “Seaside” for instance – most tracks use staggered drum sounds to mimic water movement like staggered drum sounds in “Olopp Eleen”. Overall this atmospheric release could serve as the soundtrack of an endless summer on the beach!
6. The Au Harem D’Archimede by Ricardo Villalobos
Ricardo Villalobos’ second full-length album, The Au Harem D’Archimede, expands on Alcachofa’s intricate percussion while forgoing melodies. This LP contains two tracks with what could be some of the finest drum programming ever recorded: Hireklon and Serpentin Tale – especially Hireklon which uses varied sounds that differ significantly from typical 808 clapping for an extraordinarily complex musical language that sounds natural and effortless.
It’s an uncompromisingly experimental record but one that’s full of ideas. The tracks play out like perpetually evolving percussion jams arranged and recorded so masterfully that they sound organically–even those which may seem less danceable such as Hireklon or Serpentin Tale may still contain hidden layers of detail and complexity that make this album feel expansive despite all this production; minimalism will find new life here with repeated listening! A true masterpiece.
7. Polygon Window by Aphex Twin
These two Aphex Twin albums (one released under his Polygon Window alias and another under Richard D. James pseudonym) marked America’s introduction to teenage Techno iconoclast Richard James; with B12 and Rephlex among others he was at the forefront of British Electronica at this troubled time. From its bleep blop squidly oink Roland TB-303 is joined by cold sounds, piercing drum patterns and soft piano with rhythm box accompaniment; creating an arena from which atmospheric Techno tracks such as Audax Powder and Quoth emerge like true infernoes!
Surfing On Sine Waves doesn’t compare with James’ later masterpieces such as his Selected Ambient Works albums or Classics collections of early singles; but it still makes for an enjoyable addition to any Aphex Twin collection. Though some tracks such as Audax or Quoth might sound promising on initial listens, their thin beats lack some of the audacity seen later on his albums.
8. Clicks + Cuts by M:I:5
Haruomi Hosono saw sampling technology becoming an integral component of hip-hop, so he relaunched Yellow Magic Orchestra as Sketch Show with Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto, creating a full band. They released three albums that combined experimental pop with contemporary sound design; creating a style which became adopted by mainstream acts beyond electronica such as crunk rock. The resultant style provided the basis for crunk, hard rock and other subgenres of music.
Jan Jelinek was one of the early pioneers of clicks and cuts music, an approach characterized by exploiting digital errors to produce music. His Farben project utilized samples taken from soul records and processed them further to produce anything from jazz organ harmonies with menthol-infused sounds to locust symphonies of clickety-clack glitches.
Uwe Schmidt produced Pop Artificielle under his Atom TM name and employed this technique, producing disembodied yet engaging musical visions. Additionally, he worked on some songs for The Avalanches who took advantage of sampling freedom to craft an epic freeform symphony of looped samples which culminated with shivering theremin and soprano choirs reminiscent of heaven itself.