Electronic  •  Downtempo »


Centered in New York City (Brooklyn in particular), illbient is a distinctly and consciously urban form of electronic music, aiming to express both the cultural variety and grimy decay of its surroundings. So dubbed by DJ Spooky (the style's defining artist), Illbient's eclectic, atmospheric pastiches are rooted foremost in ambient music, but may incorporate (in particular) dub, hip-hop, and drum'n'bass, plus occasional ethnic musics that blend well with whatever is already in the musical stew pot. In keeping with the moods suggested by its environment, illbient can be eerie and a little dark, or unpredictable and cloaked in noise, but nearly always retains its deliberate pace and nocturnal vibes. Performance venues for illbient are often selected for how well they evoke the atmosphere of a city's dirty underbelly, which speaks to the music's underlying conceptual (and intellectual) nature. The Brooklyn scene is also marked by a sense of cooperation and community that leads to frequent collaborations, both on an individual and group basis, and fluidly shifting commitments. The Asphodel and WordSound record labels provide the settings for most illbient scene projects; the former is home to the excellent introductory compilation Incursions in Illbient, which features DJ Spooky, We, Byzar, and Sub Dub. Other major illbient artists include Tipsy, Spectre, Rob Swift, and Badawi.