Intelligent dance music (commonly abbreviated as IDM) is a form of electronic music that emerged in the early 1990s, characterized by an abstract or “cerebral” sound better suited for home listening than dancing.Inspired by a variety of sources, including techno, acid house, ambient music, and breakbeat, IDM tended to rely upon individualistic experimentation rather than adhering to characteristics associated with specific genres. Prominent artists associated with the genre include Aphex Twin, μ-Ziq, the Black Dog, the Orb, Autechre, Luke Vibert, Squarepusher, and Boards of Canada.
The term “intelligent dance music” has been widely criticised and rejected by artists associated with the style, including Aphex Twin and µ-Ziq, as elitist and derogatory towards other genres. The term is said to have originated in the US in 1993 with the formation of the “IDM list”, an electronic mailing list originally chartered for the discussion of a number of prominent English artists appearing on the 1992 Warp compilation Artificial Intelligence. A couple of years ago, music critic Sasha Frere-Jones observed that the term “is widely reviled but still commonly used”.