Fed up with the rest of the Time Out team referring to all dance music as “that trance stuff” – or “that shit” – Erin Moy decided to clear a few things up…
First published on 2 Jul 2012. Updated on 3 Jul 2012.
Disco Yes, disco is that genre of Donna Sommer-John Travolta ’70s gak – but it gets a bit more technical than that: 2/4 syncopated rhythms are laid beneath soaring vocals to make tracks that will melt your soul. The style returned to popularity with the mid-’80s italo-disco movement (more electronic) and the current nu-disco trend (think Prins Thomas and Classixx).
Hear it at: Slow Blow parties at GoodGod offer a healthy dose of ’70s, italo- and nu-disco.
House First dropped on dancefloors in Chicago in the early ’80s, the repetitive style features “four to the floor” beats (where the kick drum thuds on every beat) and a BPM (beats per minute) averaging between 120 and 135 – we counted! Multiple subgenres include soul-tinged deep house, tech-house, melodic house and funky house.
Hear it at: You can find at least one strain of house at most late night Sydney venues, and ARQ in particular is always a sure thing.
Techno A more experimental and minimal offshoot of house that was born in Detroit. It involves layers of minimal and melodic lines, with limited vocals getting in the way of the thump-thump.
Hear it at: Locals and touring internationals spin a range of techno sounds every weekend at the Spice Cellar.
Trance You’ll find more four to the floor here, but often cracking at a faster pace than traditional house. Tracks often use a single melodic hook, similar to those of classical music, and very minimal vocals. Think PPK’s ‘Resurrection’ and Tiesto’s ‘Adagio For Strings’.
Hear it at: Trance heads can get their fix at a festival like Utopia.
Hardcore The heavier spin-off of house ranges from 95-BPM rave music to 300-BPM speedcore (you’ll probably need a sports bra and an upper to dance to this one), and can include soaring female vocals (happy hardcore), layered industrial sounds (industrial hardcore) and a distorted bass drum (gabber).
Hear it at: Dig out your fluoro utility slacks and head for a Homebush stadium rave.
Drum’n’bass With the BPM cranked up to the 160-190 mark, drum’n’bass is characterised by breakbeats, which use syncopated 4/4 rhythms rather than the rigid 4/4 of house. The genre exploded with ’90s rave culture.
Hear it at: Local promoters continue to devote parties to d’n’b, notably Bass Drop and Foreigndub.
Dubstep Features a two-step beat and a wobbly, grinding ‘dubbed’ bass line, dubstep was pushed into the popular consciousness by Chase & Status, Skream & Benga, Skrillex and Mary Anne Hobbs’ Dubstep Warz BBC Radio 1 show.
Ambient The Brian Eno school of electronica sits somewhere between art and music. The sound is more challenging than house or techno, and is about creating images in the mind. Think Aphex Twin, the Orb and Autechre.
Hear it at: Big name ambient producers often swing by Sydney for one-off shows with large-scale production.
Electro Electro was born on the downslide from disco when funk producers began experimenting with drum machines to make electronic breakbeats. It had a renaissance in Sydney in the mid-’00s thanks to the French electro movement and artists like Daft Punk and the electroclash sounds of artists like Fisherspooner.
And this is just the mere basics, folks. For guides to grime-core, psy-trance, donk, and all manner of other sub-genres, we suggest taking a deep breath and hitting the Resident Advisor forums. Good luck!