Collection: Essential Electronic

Electronic is a genre that arguably covers more styles than any other genre, mostly due to the fact that over the last 40 years its influence has continually augmented everything from Jazz and Funk to Rock and Pop, not to mention the creation of completely new styles of underground dance music which continually influenced popular music. While a small number of people began using electronic instruments like the theremin starting in the 1920's and electronic techniques of creating and manipulating sound were developed by European composers creating Musique Concrete in the 1940s, purely electronic music didn't achieve popular status until the early 1980's when synthesizers were first mass produced. The early innovators of synthesizer music started in the late 1950s when the instruments were the size of a small room and were not portable or affordable. As a result access was limited to academics, the wealthy, and a small number of studios worldwide. These sounds began to trickle into popular culture in the late 1960's with the rise of space exploration, sci-fi, Moog synths and the futuristic space music they all inspired. In this period some traditional Jazz and Rock musicians featured electronic sounds on popular recordings, but it wasn't until the 1970's that artists like Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, Giorgio Moroder, and Gary Numan began making popular music that was made primarily on analog synthesizers. The 1980s saw the rise of Synth Pop and underground dance styles like Electro, Chicago House, Detroit Techno, Trance, and the beginnings of a breakbeat culture that spawned Breaks, Drum & Bass, Trip-hop, and Downtempo. Each of these styles fragmented further during the rise of Rave culture in the 90's and all these sounds cross-pollinated with popular and avant-garde styles to create what the music industry began calling Electronica, which included a new generation of ambient and experimental artists and labels like Aphex Twin, Plaid, Warp Records, and Astralwerks. Electronica was often used in reference to the most commercially successful artists of the 90's and early 2000's like Daft Punk and Fatboy Slim, but EDM (short for Electronic Dance Music) became the more popular term after the rise of Dubstep, Electrohouse, and festivals that promoted those popular sounds. In the 2010's the lines between Electronic music, Pop, and Hip-hop continued to blur with R&B artists like FKA Twigs, Anderson Paak, SZA, and Janelle Monae. At the same time that pop music becomes more electronic-oriented, many electronic musicians continue to push the avant-garde boundaries, which will doubtlessly make their way into popular music in the future. Rinse and repeat this process into infinity. This collection features some classic and contemporary albums across all the styles under the Electronic genre. - Scott Boutin