afrika by Tadaomi Shibuya

Electro (short for either electro-funk or electro-boogie) is a genre of electronic music directly influenced by the use of funk samples, Roland TR-808 synthesizers, and Moog keytars. Records in the genre typically feature drum machines and heavy electronic sounding deprived of vocals in general, although if present, they are delivered in a deadpan manner, often through an electronic distortion such as vocoding.

This is the main distinction of electro from previously prominent late-1970s genres such as disco and boogie, in which electronic sound was only part of the instrumentation rather than basis of the whole song. In 1982, Bronx based producer Afrika Bambaataa released the seminal track ‘Planet Rock,’ which contained elements of Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express and ‘Numbers’ (from Kraftwerk’s Computer World album). ‘Planet Rock’ is widely regarded as a turning point in the electro genre.

From its origins, the definition of the electro sound is the use of drum machines as the rhythmic base of a track; however as the style has evolved, and with the advent of computer usage in electronic music, the use of drum machines has become less and less practical and widespread. Electro drum patterns tend to be electronic emulations of breakbeats, with a syncopated kick drum, and usually a snare or clap accenting the downbeat. The difference between electro drumbeats and breakbeats (or breaks) is that electro tends to be more mechanical, while breakbeats tend to have more of a human-like feel, like that of a live drummer. The definition however is somewhat ambiguous in nature due to the various use of the term.

New branches of electro have risen over the last couple of years. Florida has pioneered the ‘Electrocore’ sound. Skweee is a genre which developed in Nordic countries such as Sweden and Finland, and was originally called Scandinavian Funk.

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