What is Electronica?

The Cambridge Companion to Electronic Music uses the term electronica as one half of the world of electronic music. In their overarching introduction, there is electro-acoustic music, an academic world of electronic music, and then there is electronica, essentially popular electronic music. In the Cambridge Companion, the authors are keen to bridge the gap between the classical and popular worlds, especially as these two worlds become more and more intertwined.

Electronica as a musical genre?

As a term used within musical culture, electronica can be a term used to describe the music of the late 20th century. Especially during the 1990s, styles such as ambient, trip-hop, drum & bass, and breakbeat we’re grouped together under the umbrella term of ‘electronica‘.

Although some of these styles were quite different, they were labeled by many in the media under this umbrella term. Everybody from Aphex Twin to The Orb, Orbital, The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, Massive Attack, Portishead, and Fatboy Slim could conveniently be labeled as electronica.

So if electronica isn’t a music genre, what is electronica.org.uk all about?

Electronic music, basically. Going back to the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the tape experiments of Steve Reich, electronics, technology, and music have become intertwined. During the 1960s, musicians such as Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop experimented with electronics and sound to make textures that influence musicians to this day. Kraftwerk used synthesizers to make mainstream ‘pop’ music, paving the way for 1980s artists such as Erasure, the Pet Shop Boys and many, many more.

During the early 1990’s, technology became more accessible, computers such as the Atari ST meant that music-making using technology became attainable to many. Acts such as The Orb utilized samplers to reference Steve Reich in Little Fluffy Clouds. The KLF sampled everything. In the classical world, Steve Reich used samplers in Different Trains, then video samples in The Cave. Technology then became even more accessible with the availability of more powerful computers and audio processing inside your computer. Now you can make music on a phone, tablet or laptop, there are no barriers to making music.

electronica.org.uk is about all of this and more. Exploring the world of electronic music through classic artists, key styles, and definitive releases in the world of electronic music as well as discovering and sharing new music from across the electronic music world.

Examples of Electronica

Here are a few tracks you could define as electronica, in the late 90s kind of way. Enjoy…

Portishead – Glory Box (Dummy, 1994)
Morcheeba – The Sea (Big Calm, 1998)
Orbital – The Box (In Sides, 1996)
The Chemical Brothers – Setting Sun (Dig Your Own Hole, 1996)
Aphex Twin – On (1993)
Leftfield – Original (Leftism, 1995)