I hear the sirens calling
As the rain is gently falling

Speedbass, microhouse and what-bient?

I can’t remember when I first discovered Ishkur’s Guide To Electronic Music but it was a good few years ago, so I am very pleased to have just come across it at the Digitally Imported online radio website. If you’ve not seen it before, Ishkur’s Guide is an interactive thingamabob illustrating the way that electronic music morphed into a million and one different genres and sub-genres in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s organised roughly chronologically and is highly entertaining as well as informative. If you have any interest in electronic music or dance music, there is absolutely no way you will find a better use for your mouse than clicking around this place. As interactive thingamabobs go, it really is one of the best.

Ishkur is a Canadian fella called Kenneth John Taylor, who apparently created the original Ishkur’s Guide in two weeks after telling a friend he could pigeonhole every electronic record in existence. That was in 2000. The most recent version (2.5) dates from 2005 and includes around five hours of sound files, including cuts by Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder and Throbbing Gristle, Chicago house and Detroit techno bigwigs such as Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard and Juan Atkins, and examples of everything from speedbass and terrorcore to microhouse, illbient and liquid funk. You’ve never heard of any of those? Ah, that’s why you need Ishkur’s Guide, you see.

I particularly like Taylor’s funny, often barbed comments about a lot of the genres included on the guide. “I guess you could call this proto-trance – in much the same way a cow is proto-food,” he says of hi-NRG. His appraisal of 2-step garage begins “God, this stuff is so fucking boring”, while big beat is summarised as “The genre that finally made the homophobic frat house crowd accept that pussy electronic music at their Saturday night kegger parties”. Some trainspottery types have had a pop at Ishkur’s Guide for not always being entirely accurate and a few have suggested ways to improve it, but Taylor has responded to such criticisms by saying, “I’ll change it when I god damn feel like changing it”. Quite right too.