Originating Location: Europe, mainly in the U.K.
Originating Era: 2001
Folktronica, a style combining folk and electronica music, is one of the few new genres to come to life in recent years. The name itself is said to be dubbed by the British press in 2001 while trying to describe a new breed of producer that utilizes elements of ambient electronica, acoustic folk, jazz, psychedelia and even instrumental hip-hop. Because most of the music is created by sampling and looping acoustic instrumentation and rearranging it using non-linear editing programs usually found on the new generations of high-end laptops, the style is also referred to as laptop folk. Songs tend to be lengthy (as far as popular music is concerned), as artists are able to let the song mature naturally in the same way a post-bop jazz song might. Also along the lines of jazz is the song structure of a typical folktronica song, which reminisces of free jazz where a theme is introduced, but soloists are not constrained to stay within that melody and are allowed to progress on their own. Also prominent is heavy layering which usually builds as the song does, culminating in a climax of what would seem a combination of unrelated loops. The mood tends to sway more towards solemnly moody folk, demanding the listeners attention to detail while evoking emotion. With the recent popular interest in more complex music as well as the somewhat misleading notion that anyone with a laptop could create similar songs, the folktronica movement exploded upon formation with a slew of very good albums. Four Tet's Rounds is sometimes heralded as being the focal point of the genre, even to the extent of saying that it is responsible for creating it. The statement is somewhat misleading, though Rounds is probably the most popular folktronica album, as well as being somewhat of a template for interested artists. Styles do vary within the structure and reach everywhere from the upbeat psychedelia of Manitoba/Caribou, the cut-up collages of The Books, the minimalism of Matmos and the tenderness of Colleen.