Downtempo Electronic | Downtempo Electronic Music Explained | The Genre That Fits Me

Downtempo electronic
What is Downtempo Electronic?

I have never been one to get all pretentious about music genres – I remember speaking to a group of girls outside a hip bar in Dublin, when I was in college. We chatted about music and our favourite artists, the usual. The conversation veered in the direction of music genres and about which ones tickle our fancy individually. ‘I like Rock, Hip Hop and some electronic music‘, I timidly muttered to open the question up to the floor. I was absolutely shocked and appalled by the ensuing responses. ‘My favourite genre is Conscious Hip Hop, Math Rock, IDM and Moombahton‘. The next girl, ‘I listen to Witch House, New Wave and Shoegaze‘. The final nail in the coffin in this particular interaction was firmly provided by the final girl, ‘I’m partial to Surf Rock and Twee‘. I was lost, what were they on about?

I forgot about that weird exchange until recently, it popped into my head again whilst scrolling a Reddit feed of new modern music genres. I remembered that shock and bafflement I felt whilst chatting to that group of hippies. Maybe they were just ahead of the game?

Nowadays, there are over 1,264 music genres in the world (according to research done by data alchemist Glen McDonald at Every Noise). The Guardian did a great feature of his work a few years ago. I would normally have said that anyone who states their favourite music genre as Hypnagogic pop or Simpsonwave were just pulling my plonker. If I was asked the same question, however, my answer would categorically be Downtempo Electronic, without hesitation. I am now a music genre snob!

What is Downtempo Electronic Music?

What is Downtempo Electronic? Good question! I have now become one of these, pretentious sounding, annoying, genre freaks. I recently managed to correctly label the style of sound I’ve been listening to for years. I first came across the genre name whilst setting up my website account on a submission site. When a blog gets approved to be a curator, the first job you are tasked with is to tick the boxes of the types of music you wish to receive. There are loads, I mean, hundreds! I clicked some simple, normal-sounding styles and moved on. One year on, the stats have come in – Downtempo Electronic is my most featured style to write about for this website. Here’s an example:

Photay‘s production is top drawer.

Artists like Maribou State, Bonobo and Four Tet, sometimes operate in this kind of style. It’s a slow paced electronic, bass heavy, style that wouldn’t quite be suitable for a dance floor at the peak of a night. Downtempo is the type of music suited for background listening, in a lounge or in a pre-gig set. It’s slow, methodical and totally absorbing, if produced correctly. It perfectly accompanies my long reflective gazes out the train window, at dusk!

I am very fortunate to be in a position to root out plenty of underground Downtempo releases to share on The Sound Sniffer. My submissions inbox is usually comprised up of 15% tunes of this variety. I had never been able to put my finger on my niche market before and have finally found it. There are thousands of people in the same boat. For the last few months, I’ve be compiling a little weekly feature called ‘Crate Digging‘ that promotes anything new I find. If you like what you are hearing, keep a look out for this feature, which usually is posted every Friday afternoon.

I remember a few years ago, I heard the sounds of Koreless and Jacques Greene for the first time. I was blown away – it was a new blend at that time! You don’t hear this type of music on terrestrial radio stations. It’s just not commercially appealing to the masses, but it’s definitely better than the vast majority of the pop slush, in my humble (and possibly pretentious) opinion.

Thoma‘s single ‘Union’ is one of the nicest Downtempo tracks of the year.

Last week, I put together a Spotify playlist of all of the Downtempo Electronic tunes I’ve found this year. Check the playlist HERE (It will be updated regularly)


About ‘The Sound Sniffer’

The Sound Sniffer is a music blog which is still only a baby – Founded and run by Kevin Coakley in early 2019. He is a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs gigs and showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists we find in our submissions inbox.

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