The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Volume 3

July 15, 2010

After a bit of a delay, the final (?) installment of the Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres has arrived. You’ll notice I threw a question mark in after “final” in an attempt to create some sort of cliffhanger-type moment. We can never really be sure that a one-off series won’t rear its malformed head again, while other ongoing series gather dust on the back burner, filling the blog with dusty and most likely poisonous fumes.

If you’re just joining us, be sure and check out Volume One and Volume Two, wherein other music genres such as goth, world music and post-punk were ridiculed mercilessly for simply existing.

But enough “fucking about” as they say in the Old Country. Here’s our final installment (or is it?) [Ed. – Two volumes would seem to have been plenty…] of the Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres.

Another IDM live set; another "packed" house.

Stands for “Intelligent Dance Music,” but has about as much to do with “dance music” as physics lectures have to do with “fun.” Crafted with the same electronics as good old dance music, but with an interest in motivating heads rather than feet, IDM is the eternally bored hipster of electronica, sneering contemptuously at those who enjoy music and its accompanying physical expression.

As tiresome as the DJs who spin it, IDM should really just stop pretending it was ever about the “D” and go out as “IM,” which will link it with something equally tiresome and annoying: AOL. It makes you wonder what sort of “intelligence” is required to jam a bunch of unlistenable electro-wanking into a pair of ill-fitting dance pants and trot it out for others’ approval, which had better fucking not include dancing.

Fans: The roster at Warp Records. People who like to feel “superior.” Masochists. That one guy at every rave that annoys everyone with his pompous “mellow harshing.” Satan.

Rap metal stock photo. Filed under "Every Rap Metal Band Photo Ever."

Rap Metal
A reprehensible form of music so far behind the curve that it couldn’t even crack the airwaves until years after the success of Faith No More’s Epic made the form prematurely passé and even more years past the point that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had released anything worth listening to.

Rap Metal (or “Nu Metal”) ushered in a reprehensible form of “New Laddism” (or “Nu Laddism”) in which the combination of rap and metal encouraged suburban white males to double up on their misogyny and indulge their vacuous angst. This led directly to “Nu Rock,” a reprehensible blend of blaring tunelessness, monotonous abuse of the loud/quiet/loud dynamic and DJs as extraneous band members carrying “insta-street cred” cards in their oversized novelty pants.

Note to budding “nu rockers”: You really shouldn’t be so eager to show the world how much you suck in two genres simultaneously. 0 + 0 still equals zero, no matter how much Mom didn’t hug you.

Note to Jonathan Davis and Chester “Chet” Bennington: the glasses fool no one.

Fans: White thugs. “Disaffected” suburban youth who need some “inspiration” to help them power through their struggle-free existences. People who still wear their fitted ballcaps in the “reverse cowgirl” position. Purchasers of Rohypnol and the women who inadvertently love them. Tattooists. There’s no way Satan’s not getting in on this.

Another bitchass mannequin wears its heart on its chest...

A rustic brand of music made by any person who can shell out $15 for a used acoustic guitar and a harmonica and spent most of their adolescence being “misunderstood” and “beat up.” Generally played using unadorned (or “unplugged”) instruments of bygone eras, including (but good lord, certainly not limited to) acoustic guitars, banjos, fiddles, ukuleles, klezmers, harmonicas, mouth harps, moonshine jugs, regular (or “hand”) harps, accordions, mandolins, colanders, washboards, heliotropes, muzzle loaders and cotton gins.

Most folk artists (and their fans) believe their use of outdated instruments to cover Woody Guthrie for the millionth time creates a purer and more honest form of music. This misplaced nostalgia is usually amplified (unelectronically, of course) by their years on the County Fair circuit, leading them to the mistaken belief that outdoor plumbing is superior indoor plumbing and that life would be better if we could all return to a simpler time. Like when women and blacks weren’t allowed to vote or own property.

Fans: Hippies. Luddites. The Amish, most likely. Sheet music salesmen. People who believe public domain = purity. Ruddy-cheeked, guitar-toting assholes who troll for trim on hiking trails and public campgrounds. Beelzebub.

Hair styling by Maxine's Cosmetology College and Technical School's early spring term students.

Not so much music as it is a bunch of knob-twiddling basement dwellers with unfortunate hairdos. Its earliest form was usually nothing more than field recordings of telephone lines, smokestacks and ambulance drivers. Then Einsturzende Neubauten showed up and beat the hell out of everything with everything else for upwards of ninety minutes at a time.

Sadly, no one much wanted to trot around the junkyard gathering improvised instruments and tetanus (except for Test Dept.), so budding young industrialists were forced to ape Throbbing Gristle’s throbbing electronica ad infinitum, adding little more than updated wiring and occasional fire code violations.

Suddenly, a force rose out of Chicago, shedding its pale skin and faux accent and gathering every motherfucking guitar in the metropolitan area. Al Jourgensen brought a speed metal sensibility to scene long dominated by sheet metal and field recordings and industrial mutated again, becoming, well, speed metal except with a sequencer or two.

This continued for far longer than it should have, sending budding young industrialists into the waiting arms of coldwave, darkwave and other wave-related genres.

Fans: Masochists. Canadians. Crossover metalheads. Crossover goths. Germans. People who enjoy a good knob twiddling. Ambulance drivers. People who think NIN are industrial. Goths who find the subject matter and usage of black clothing comforting and familiar. Satan is not a fan, although most industrial bands continue to believe he is.

Math rock trios prefer to arrange themselves in isoceles triangles.

Math Rock
An oddity composed of frustrated metalheads who wish they would be taken as seriously as jazz musicians and frustrated jazz musicians who find themselves in a quasi-metal band thanks to badly worded “drummer wanted” ads. Thanks to these frustrated but complementary components, more time is spent crafting intricate time signatures than actually rocking, leaving most would-be crossover fans nonplussed. (Yep. That is one incredibly lazy “math” joke.)

Fans: People who need a slide rule to quantify their enjoyment of music. Metalheads with sizable jazz collections. Chess club kids who wonder why the chicks always dig “regular” metalheads. Engineering students who make “music genre/influence” flowcharts for fun. That guy who always reminded the teacher to assign homework.



  1. Nicely written CLT, you deserve a wider audience. I am looking forward to your insightful take on Norwegian Fishing Music.

    • Thanks, FJ. As soon as I capture the elusive Norwegian fisherman market, I should be set.

    • “Wider audience”?

      You calling us fat?

  2. They hate equilateral triangles with a passion. Most likely because there are five members in the group.

  3. I’m starting to think that you could (theoretically) whittle every song down and assign its own genre. When does it ever end?

    BTW, your ‘fans’ description was my favorite part of this post. You still da man.

    • You could do that, elizabeth. And yes, it never ends. I’m ending this series here. For now.

      Thanks for the compliments. If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s my wholesale bashing of large groups.

  4. Hilarious post. Here’s the aforementioned einstürzende Neubauten in somewhat genre-convention (which they did help to defined)-defying but also reaffirming performances from 1980s West Berlin


    video on demand stream

    • Thanks for the link, groove68, which may be why you got sent to hang out with the spam. And if this is some form of spam, it’s spam that reads the posts. I can’t ask for more than that.

      Thanks for the visit, groove68.

  5. I was listening to Maps & Atlases, “The Charm” while reading this… You can imagine my feigned indignation at the Math Rock dig. Why, oh why, must everyone disparage all things associated with math?

    An answer in no fewer than fifty thousand words and entirely in a math equation would be greatly appreciated. May I request that you do so in a frothy combination of Linear, Quadratic, Cubic and Geometric Equations? It’s a reasonable request. At least, I like to believe so. Please have it for me next Some Velvet Morning. Look for me in My Morning Jacket. Which, not surprisingly, is made out of velvet.

    Okay, it’s great we’ve set that homework project in motion.

    Up next, I’d like to add that as a budding Industrial Folk Rap Metal Artist who has always considered himself intelligent when it comes to dance music, I’m hurt by the way your post has perfectly and hilariously encapsulated all that’s wrong with me and my moulded and moldy musical genres.

    I think these things are always best said best in song. Specifically, Industrial Folk Rap Metal songs. Wouldn’t you agree? (I know, I know, we budding Industrial Folk Rap Metal artists always think everyone should agree with us… But it’s only because our reprehensibly rustic basement hairdos rule our egos. It’s how psychology made us, baby!)

    Anyway, my song is a protest song about death (I’ve always protested death, being dead, and dying… Not specifically in that order). It’s also about the lack of nookie that I did it for. (Protest, that is.) It’s more maudlin than ironic. But then again, much like black is the new douche bag, maudlin is the new ironic.

    The song is called “Metal Fingers In Woodstock Body” It’s sung by a sensitive robot with an enormous penis who wants to fuck all the chicks in the world.

    I know, it’s a cliché, but what are you gonna do?

    It’s all set to a sampled – and really phallic looking – acoustic guitar. If you listen carefully, you can hear the skinny puppy in the background.

    Metal Fingers In Woodstock Body

    I am a robot
    No I’m not

    I’m just a love machine
    Programmed to charm
    The pants right off you
    At old Yasgur’s Farm

    Your armpits, my face, both need a shave
    Let’s remove our pants and dance to the cold wave
    Let’s be folk robot metal rap about our honesty
    Like when women and blacks weren’t allowed to vote or own property

    (Is that a pacifier in your mouth or are you just happy to see me?)

    Metal Fingers In Woodstock Body x 186,234

    I did it for the nookie
    For the smelly hippy
    For Goth Mark and his band
    Of pasty boys who were never tanned

    (Everyone dance – awkwardly!)

    Metal Fingers In Woodstock Body x y=ax^3+ bx^2+cx+d!!!!!!!

    From here the song just samples a tooting moonshine jug for 23 minutes. Which makes perfect sense. At least it does in the crazy, fun-filled world of Industrial Folk Rap Metal.

    • Alan –

      What an incredibly verbose surprise to see you! And you’ve brought all the words with you!

      Well, I’ve read and re-read this several times, each time longer than the last, and to tell you the truth, it’s all a bit overwhelming. I had to take a breather.

      Now, after sitting back and feigning imagining you feigning indignation (and of course, feigning comprehension of the complex math contained herein), I have come to the conclusion that this whole comment is beginning to outweight and out-funny the post it’s attached to.

      Therefore, when I inevitably repost this months down the road, in a last-ditch effort to bathe my waning talent in the reflected glow of my “heyday,” I will have this comment deleted.

      Maybe not all of it, but definitely the Industrial Rap Metal Folk bits, which contain dead-on jabs at the boy who deserves it most, cause all he wanted was some “nookie,” Sir Fredrick Durst of the Limp Bizkits. The nod to the most mathematical of non-math rock bands, Add N to (x) is appreciated, but won’t save your comment.

      But I wouldn’t worry too much about this disappearing. After all, I talk a lot and have serious “follow-thru” issues. And this is the internet, where everything gets remembered permanently, especially the parts you wish everyone would forget.

      An aside: have you ever considered blogging? You seem to have a knack for writing long-winded but hilarious stuff. Of course, you’d have to do it over at Blogger or Typepad or something, because I can’t have too much of this “wordy but funny” schtick yanking away my valuable pageviews. (They’re worth every penny, according to the Official WordPress Blog. Say, have you tried out Netflix yet? I hear it’s the best.)

      Long story short: thank you for the magnificient comment, Alan. It will be deleted shortly.

  6. […] Capitalist F. Lion Tamer: The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Volume 3 […]

  7. Alan stole my comment!

    Then he totally changed it around and made it sound way funnier and more phallic and included that old cliche about sensitive robots who want to fuck all the chicks in the world with their enormous penises which really aren’t all that enormous when compared to the Amish most likely and crossover Goths.

    (…Or so I heard.)

    So I guess all I can say is that your Fancy Plans Music Guides never fail to amaze me, not only because of the brilliantly brilliant writing, but because I learn more about music in one short post than after years of dating Masochists, a purchaser of Rohypnol (Just so you know, I didn’t find out until after), and two ruddy-cheeked, guitar-toting assholes who would troll for trim on hiking trails and public campgrounds.

    Kicktastic, CLT. I only hope the question mark stands for “not”.

    • Alan didn’t mean to steal your comment, b. He just used up all the words. Plus, he has an uncanny knack for saying what everyone’s thinking. Especially about the Amish. Most likely.

      Thanks very much for the compliments, bschooled, which must have been twice as difficult to compose with the words remaining, like “dating,” “Rohypnol,” and “guitar-toting assholes.” Oh, and “trim,” which is about the greatest word ever when used only once per 300 posts. Anything more than that, and the word loses all meaning and starts writing forlorn letters to the editors of “Penthouse.”

      I hope it stands for “not” as well, but I figured I’d build in an escape hatch.

  8. Wooooo! I am with FJ – wonderfully, wonderfully written and most deserving of a wider read, namely, the “fans” listed at the end of each genre, I mean, they really could do themselves a favour by coming here and having their ‘tastes’ set straight….

    I was very happy to see the inclusion of my Folk request, and simultaneously very relieved to see you didn’t list me in the “fans” section – not because I don’t love it, and longingly yearn to return to the ye olde times of female oppression, but because all the other fans there would be very embarrassing company to keep.

    LOVED “IDM”, reminded me of going to see Squarepusher, you know of?, but overall too many great moments and witticisms to isolate, so I will leave it at, “good job!”

    • Many thanks, Ruby, but I’m sure the “fans” would just be offended at the offhand marginalization of their music and the use of the word “trim.”

      After you suggested it, there was no way I wasn’t going to tear the folkies a new jughole. I didn’t include you in there because I really only wanted to bash a bunch of complete strangers. These would be the kind of people I’d cross the street to avoid, thanks to their penniless ways and horrific amounts of stoned cheeriness. I don’t consider you a true “fan.” Just a tasteful dabbler.

      I do know of this Squarepusher and I have made repeated efforts to meet him halfway. So far we have agreed to diagree and I’ve agreed to grant him a 30% success rate on his assaults on my eardrums. I imagine he must be a treat to see live, if only for the copious amounts of elbow room.

      Thanks for the “great job!”, Ruby. Always wonderful to see you.

  9. Given the fact that I am a Canadian of German decent, that the clothing in my closet ranges in colour from grey to black, that I enjoy getting my knob twiddled and (if it makes me a masochist) I wouldn’t exactly object to getting roughed up by Carrie-Ann Moss in her Matrix outfit…you’d expect that I once dabbled in Industrial music. Surprisingly, while late to the party, I did. My CD collection includes Skinny Puppy/Download, Front Line Assembly, KMFDM, Numb and some other black clad German & Canadian groups.


    Not exactly Kraftwerk’s version of Autobahn

    where they stand motionless behind their synths, is it?

    This brings up the inherent difficulty of original Industrial music like what Test Department and EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN were doing. It was damn hard work!!! Venues also didn’t like them sawing holes in their buildings. Imagine that.

    Given the sheer effort that goes into making one single track of this stuff, it’s amazing any of them stuck to it for long. The generation that followed decided it was a lot easier to put down the circular saws, type into a keyboard and make somewhat more commercially friendly music.

    Needless to say, except for a brief breakthrough from Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, not much of this stuff made it on the radio. There was a time where I could catch some on the local college radio station. But fashions changed and wussy, Ecstasy fuelled, dance-able, crap pushed it aside.

    It was also a very hard genre to be a fan of. Followers had to dedicate their lives to it, eschewing sex and all things that involve pleasure for risk of it diverting the attention required to keep abreast of the ever-changing scene.

    Basically, it’s a genre designed for suicide or be smashed to bits. Since it was so experimental, it drew constantly-experimenting musicians. In order to call yourself an Industrial band, you had to have 7 side-projects, 3 break-ups and at least 1-2 members die of an overdose. Many musicians just experimented themselves out of the genre, either by moving to new genres or via drug overdoses.

    Because I failed to eschew sex, I lost track of the genre over a decade ago. Good to hear from it again.

    • SM –

      First of all, thanks for the incredible comment. As a fellow industrialist, I too followed Skinny Puppy, FLA, KMFDM as well as others like Cyberaktif, Spahn Ranch, Front 242 and Clock DVA (not really industrial, but on Wax Trax! so close enough).

      Of course, there were the billions of side projects (Acid Horse, PTP, Revolting Cocks, Hilt, Pigface, 1000 Homo DJs, et fucking cetera). I’m sure no one on the industrial scene was easy on the venues. If nothing else, you’d be cleaning up fake blood and pancake makeup for hours after each show.

      Sure, you might not have to replace retaining walls and lode-bearing beams every night, but it was only a matter of time. Still, it beat the punk/hardcore clubs who were hosting GG Allin and cleaning feces/sperm/vomit/blood/urine off of everything.

      So it was a demanding genre. Perhaps too demanding, what with Cleopatra issuing a half dozen essential comps every week. Who had the time or money to be a completist? Every time Genesis P. Orridge took a shit, it was pressed into 1000 limited-edition 7″ flexi-discs.

      I love the industrial. Have for a long time. Still, it’s a genre that invites the abuse that’s heaped on it. (Not as much as goth does, though.) I’m also a techno fan and I believe industrial is as much to blame as anything else, what with its innate ability to get listeners acquainted with a wide variety of electronic noises and powerful repetition.

      Somewhat of a gateway drug, if you will.

  10. Industrial fan -eh? If you’re not German or Canadian, I guess the odds are pretty good that you enjoy being tied up and disciplined. It takes courage to admit that publicly.

    On a couple of other fronts:

    1) I read somewhere EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN actually did saw a gaping hole in a German art museum’s floor during a performance and, according to who you believe, tossed stuff down it.

    2) Ministry associations aside, a band like 1000 Homo DJs had me at their name. I’m really bad with names, so in a crowded, under-covered musical genre, such memorable names helped me out a lot. Speaking of 1000 Homo DJS, their song Hey Asshole jives perfectly with an Industrial “impulse” CD purchase I made. I bought this album largely on the band’s name and it’s cover art. http://www.discogs.com/Tit-Wrench-OK-You-Homos-Out-Of-The-Car/release/70052

    The band was Tit Wrench http://www.myspace.com/titwrench and they made me wish I was in a band and had some of whatever they were on. I didn’t mention them in the earlier post because they are neither German or Canadian and doing so would break with the theme.

    3) Techno fan??? Techno??? Unless you’re talking about Hardcore variations of the genre, j’accuse vous of being another one of these limp-dicked motherfuckers who enjoy aimlessly bouncing around in empty warehouses to lyric-less “music” that sounds like it was made by retards with a Speak & Spells alongside hoards of other space cadets strung out on so much E that they can’t get boners (despite being wedged between dozens of dim-witted and easy young gals) without ingesting a bottle of Blue Steel first. Jesus Christ!!!

    4)In an ironically unrelated matter, I completely agree with your assessment of Rap-Metal. Even though I like some of it (Cypress Hill), the genre and the Nu Laddism it inspired leaves a foul taste in my mouth…as if I was mouth-raped by Tommy Lee or something. All that macho posturing seems forced, like it’s done purely to sell records to guys trying to overcompensate for deeply repressed homosexual urges.

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