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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Illbient is a term coined by DJ Olive to describe the iconoclastic music being produced by a community of artists based in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York in the early 1990s. The word "Illbient" is a portmanteau of the hip hop slang term "ill" (a positive expression: bad meaning good) and "ambient".

Though there are many individualistic variants of Illbient, the music is characterized by interesting dub-wise layering of soundscapes, hip hop-influenced use of samples and a progressive approach to beat programming that encompasses all genres of world groove and electronic music.

Illbient was introduced to the public at large in 1996 through the Asphodel Records Incursions in Illbient compilation and a feature in The Wire magazine.

The use of the term "Illbient" was propagated by the music press rather than the artists themselves (the notable exception to this dynamic being the music journalist Paul D. Miller aka the turntablist DJ Spooky). This disconnect has led to ambiguity about whether Illbient is merely a NYC subgenre of trip hop or a marketing gimmick used by DJ Spooky and Asphodel Records.

According to DJ Spooky, DJ Olive started an event in Brooklyn called Lalalandia. It is perhaps worth noting that DJ Spooky also claims to have invented the word Illbient in relation to the multicultural digital arts scene in Manhattan. To his credit, he released Necropolis, a mix CD in 1995 that brought together many of the artists who later claimed to have invented the term including DJ Olive. His events like Molecular at The Gas Station on Avenue B and Second street in Manhattan set the tone for later developments in the genre.

The nexus of Illbient was the Abstrakt Wave party held every Sunday night at The RV, belonging to Tim Sweet, aka Dr. Decent, a small alternative space at the corner of 6th and Avenue B in Manhattan's East Village (the space has long since been resteragentrified).

Illbient has exerted a strong influence on the Dubstep, Half Step and Hauntology genres.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Illbient" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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