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Electronic Innovators
In collaboration with the internationally-acclaimed Decibel Festival, KEXP Documentaries presents "Electronic Innovators".

Electronic music first made its way into pop culture through soundtracks to science fiction films in the 1950s. The German band Kraftwerk and English artist Brian Eno took plugged-in music to the people in the 70s with cinematic, space-filled albums. In the 80s Detroit’s “Godfathers of Techno” The Belleville Three started a legacy of innovation in that city that continues today. Bristol favorites Massive Attack and Portishead mixed electronic sounds with soul, hip-hop and reggae in the 1990s, creating a more accessible pop style and attracting millions of fans. Legendary French group Daft Punk propelled the rave movement into the pop charts with catchy, danceable hits. Underground beatmaker Trentemoller and experimental artists Aphex Twin, Amon Tobin and Bjork continue to be on the forefront of this still-futuristic music style. And in 2011 newcomer James Blake’s self-titled release marries soul music and dubstep, bridging the gap between pop and electronic music.


# 11 The Belleville Three

Detroit DJs/producers The Belleville Three, influenced by funk, new wave and electronic bands from Europe created a whole new style of dance music called techno in the 1980s. In this KEXP Documentary, founding member Kevin Saunderson takes us back to the first wave in Detroit.

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One of the first techno singles. "Cosmic Cars" by Juan Atkins group Cybotron.

# 10 Bjork

Icelandic artist Bjork started out at a child star, releasing her first album of covers in 1976 when she was only 11 years old. Since then she has committed herself to full-blown originality as a songwriter and performer. She fronted Iceland's most famous rock band The Sugarcubes. And as a solo artist has put out 8 studio albums that have made her a leader in bringing electronic music to the international world of pop.

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Bjork's Biophilia album - buy it at Bjork.com

# 9 Brian Eno

Brian Eno started out as a rock star in the glam-pop band Roxy Music in the 70s before leaving them to pursue a solo career. He invented the term "ambient music" and has been a leader in creating that style since the release of "Music for Airports" in 1978. He also has produced some of the greatest albums of all time for artists like U2, Talking Heads and David Bowie. Get a look at the man behind the legend in this short radio story on the quintessential musician, artist and inventor.

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Brian Eno album - Buy it at Warp.net

# 8 Portishead

Portishead took production style and beats from hip-hop and showcasted soulful pop vocals to created stark, cinematic songs that the media dubbed "trip-hop". In this KEXP Documentary you'll hear rare interview footage from this band who keep pushing the boundaries of pop and electronic music.

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Photo by Michele Myers for KEXP

# 7 Amon Tobin

Amon Tobin started out mixing ambient, industrial, drum-n-bass and jazz on his 1997 first album "Bricolage". In 2007 he used found sound effects to make a whole new sound on the record "Foley Room". In 2011 he's on the cutting-edge of electronic performance with his ISAM show which uses triggered sounds, projection-mapping and a huge stage set for a new kind of visual experience.

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Amon Tobin from Facebook.com

# 6 Massive Attack

Bristol collective Massive Attack invented trip-hop by slowing down hip-hop and adding sounds from reggae, dub, Brit-pop, rock and soul. They used samples from other people's work as a base for their songs on the first three albums. Then when trip-hop became part of pop culture, used in many TV shows, commercials and films, they changed their way of making music. In this KEXP Documentary founding member 3D talks about the tension between expectation and exploration.

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Massive Attack album - Buy it at http://www.massiveattack.co.uk/

# 5 Kraftwerk

The first time most people in the US and Europe heard electronic music was in science fiction movies in the 1950′s. And German band Kraftwerk were the first to hit the charts with "Autobahn", an electropop single in 1974. Kraftwerk took their German heritage and integrated it into their image and their music. With subjects like the autobahn and robots, they showed that the ultra-conservative world they grew up in had its benefits. It was almost like they were making fun of conservatism, with their suits and ties so perfect, and their hair slicked back like mannequins. They were so conservative they started to look less human, more like robots

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Kraftwerk album - Buy it at Kraftwerk.com

# 4 Daft Punk

Legendary French electronic duo Daft Punk met when they were kids and as young men formed an indie rock band named Darlin' in 1992. They recorded a single and got bad press from "Melody Maker" who said their song sounded like "daft punk". Instead of being discouraged by the review, they took the name for their own. Influenced by house, funk and disco they used this new identity and released their first (and some say best) album "Homework" in 1997 with club anthems like "Around the World" that took rave music to the top of the pop charts. Influenced by German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, Daft Punk dresses in robot outfits for shows. For their last tour, they performed from the top of a lighted stage pyramid.

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Daft Punk album - Buy it at DaftPunk.com

# 3 Aphex Twin

Richard D. James grew up in Cornwall, England and in 1992 as Aphex Twin he came out with "Selected Ambient Works:85-92. This album explored the electronic style called "ambient" and included some gorgeous, beatless, melodic neo-classical sounds.On Aphex Twin's third album "I Care Because You Do" in 1995, he came up with a whole new sound. This new sound was more dark, fast-paced and bordering on the edge of insanity. Aphex Twin made himself even more strange-seeming by photoshopping the same picture of his face onto other bodies for videos and album covers.

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Aphex Twin album - Buy it at Warp.net

# 2 Trentemoller

Danish artist Trentmoller's his first single - the 12' "Physical Fraction" - dropped in 2005. The inventive production caught the attention of Danish club DJs and became a dance floor anthem that summer. In 2006, his first full-length album "The Last Resort" came out and made waves internationally with its cinematic feel and warm computer layers. On his 2010 release "The Great Wide Yonder", he adds live instruments and vocalists for a warmer, earthier feel.

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Trentemoller - Photo by Laura Totten

# 1 James Blake

Newcomer James Blake bridges the gap between electronic and pop music with his simplification of the underground electronic style dubstep and the addition of his gorgeous vocals influenced by Sam Cooke, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder.

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James Blake from facebook.com


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