Electronic rock

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Electronic rock (also known as electro rock and synth rock) is a music genre that involves a combination of rock music and electronic music, featuring instruments typically found within both genres. It originates from the late 1960s when rock bands began incorporating electronic instrumentation into their music. Electronic rock acts usually fuse elements from other music styles, including punk rock, industrial rock, hip hop, techno and synth-pop, which has helped spur subgenres such as indietronica, dance-punk and electroclash.


Being a fusion of rock and electronic, electronic rock features instruments found in both genres, such as synthesizers, mellotrons, tape music techniques, electric guitars and drums. Some electronic rock artists, however, often eschew guitar[2] in favor of using technology to emulate a rock sound. Vocals are typically mellow or upbeat,[3] but instrumentals are also common in the genre.[4]

A trend of rock bands that incorporated electronic sounds began during the late 1960s. According to critic Simon Reynolds, examples included the United States of America, White Noise and Gong.[5] Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco, authors of the 2004 book Analog Days, credit the Beach Boys' 1966 hit "Good Vibrations" with having "popularly connected far-out, electronic sounds with rock 'n' roll."[6]

Other early acts to blend synthesizers and musique concrète's tape music techniques with rock instrumentation included Silver Apples, Fifty Foot Hose, Syrinx, Lothar and the Hand People, Beaver & Krause and Tonto's Expanding Head Band.[7] Many such 1960s acts blended psychedelic rock with avant-garde academic or underground influences.[7]

In the 1970s, German krautrock bands such as Neu!, Kraftwerk, Can and Amon Düül challenged rock boundaries by incorporating electronic instrumentation.[8] In 2004, Uncut described Kraftwerk's "incalculable" impact on electronic rock as being felt on major records like David Bowie's Low (1977) and Radiohead's Kid A (2000).[9] Since the late 2000s, electronic rock has become increasingly popular.[2]

Subgenres and other terms[edit]

The term "progressive rock" (or "prog rock") was originally coined in the 1960s for music that would otherwise be described as "electronic rock,"[4] but the definition of "prog" later narrowed into a specific set of musical conventions as opposed to a sensibility involving forward-thinking or experimental approaches.[10]

Electronic rock is also associated with industrial rock, synth-pop, dance-punk, indietronica, and new wave,[4] with electroclash, new rave, post-punk revival, post-rock, considered as subgenres.[2] Sometimes, certain other electronic subgenres are fused with rock, such as trance and techno, leading to the use of the terms trance rock and techno rock, respectively.[11][12]


Punk rock has been mixed with electronic music as well, creating subgenres like synth-punk (also known as electropunk) and dance-punk.[15][16]

Suicide, formed in 1970, is known as one of the most influential artists in the genre.[17] Their sound over their five studio albums mixed punk rock with various electronic-based genres such as electronic rock,[18] synth-pop, and disco. Their first album is widely regarded for setting the stage for subsequent post-punk, synth-pop and industrial rock acts.[19]

The Screamers were labeled "techno-punk" by the Los Angeles Times in 1978.[20] Rather than the usual electric guitars, the band's instrumentation included a heavily distorted Fender Rhodes electric piano and an ARP Odyssey synthesizer.

Devo, whilst better known for their 1980 synth-pop song "Whip It", also had an electronic sound rooted in punk rock.

The term synth-punk (or electropunk) was coined in 1999 by Damien Ramsey.[21]

In the early 1980s, synth-punk fused with various electronic genres to create electronic body music, which would influence a number of subsequent industrial dance, industrial rock and industrial metal acts. It also influencedthe hardcore punk inspired digital hardcore, which combines hardcore punk with electronic music, noise and heavy metal.[22][23] It typically features fast tempos and aggressive sound samples.[23]

In addition, pop punk fused itself with synth-punk to create a genre known as neon pop.


Synth-metal is the fusion of heavy metal and electronic music. It was pioneered in the 1980s with Iron Maiden's album Somewhere in Time and Judas Priest's album Turbo, both of which notably incorporate guitar synthesizers.[24][25]

Besides synth-metal, electronicore, electrogrind, coldwave and dungeon synth, heavy metal is also sometimes mixed with other electronic genres and their subgenres, inspiring terms such as electronic metal, electronic dance metal, trance metal and techno metal.[26][27][28][29][text–source integrity?]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Electronic Rock : On the History of Rock Music. 10 September 2014. ISBN 9783653979206. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Kearney, Mary Celeste (13 July 2017). Gender and Rock. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190297695. Retrieved 24 November 2017 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Macan, Edward (24 November 1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195098877. Retrieved 24 November 2017 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c "The ABC's of…Electronic Rock in the Studio: The Doors to Depeche Mode & LCD Soundsystem". SonicScoop. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  5. ^ Reynolds, Simon (21 April 2007). "King of the Cosmos". The Observer. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  6. ^ Pinch, T. J; Trocco, Frank (2009). Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-04216-2.
  7. ^ a b Reynolds, Simon. "Synthedelia: Psychedelic Electronic Music in the 1960s". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  8. ^ Demby, Eric. "OLD NEU! Albums Finally Coming Stateside". MTV News. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  9. ^ Dalton, Stephen (April 2004). "Kraftwerk: OK Computer". Uncut. Retrieved 6 November 2023.
  10. ^ Robinson, Emily (2017). The Language of Progressive Politics in Modern Britain. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-137-50664-1.
  11. ^ Buckley, Peter (24 November 2017). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. ISBN 9781858284576. Retrieved 24 November 2017 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Prophet, Elizabeth Clare (24 November 1989). Year of Prophecy. Summit University Press. ISBN 9780916766962. Retrieved 24 November 2017 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb 1978 "L.A. PUNK ROCKERS - Six New Wave Bands Showcased"
  14. ^ Hillegonda C Rietveld (1998) This Is Our House: House Music, Cultural Spaces and Technologies Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-85742-242-9
  15. ^ Felix, Stanford (2010). The Complete Idiot's Guide Music Dictionary. DK Publishing. p. 257. ISBN 978-1-101-19809-4.
  16. ^ Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978–1984. Simon Reynolds. Faber and Faber Ltd, April 2005, ISBN 0-571-21569-6 (U.S. Edition: Penguin, February 2006, ISBN 0-14-303672-6)
  17. ^ "Alan Vega, Agitational Vocalist for Synth-Punk Innovators Suicide, 1938-2016".
  18. ^ DK (2013). Music: The Definitive Visual History. Penguin. p. 337. ISBN 9781465421265.
  19. ^ "Suicide - Suicide Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic". AllMusic.
  20. ^ Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb 1978 "L.A. PUNK ROCKERS - Six New Wave Bands Showcased"
  21. ^ The Complete Idiot's Guide Music Dictionary: Music Explained in the Simplest Terms. Penguin. 6 July 2010. ISBN 9781101198094. The term was invented in 1999 by Damien Ramsey to retroactively name a small subgenre of punk in which the musicians used synthesizers instead of guitars.
  22. ^ Kutner, Moshe (22 May 2014). "Neo-Nazi Fighting Digital Hardcore Musician Comes to Israel". Haaretz. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  23. ^ a b Interview with J. Amaretto of DHR, WAX Magazine, issue 5, 1995. Included in liner notes of Digital Hardcore Recordings, Harder Than the Rest!!! compilation CD.
  24. ^ Bigna, Dan (4 February 2016). "Canberra gigs: British 1980s pop stars Bananarama to play Southern Cross Club". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  25. ^ Schafer, Joseph (14 April 2016). "Judas Priest's 'Turbo' Turns 30". Invisible Oranges. Archived from the original on 21 April 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  26. ^ "10 Current Artists That Effortlessly Blend Metal With Other Genres - Page 2 of 2". Metalinjection.net. 2 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  27. ^ "IS ELECTRONIC DANCE METAL THE NEXT BIG THING???". Metalsucks.net. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  28. ^ "30 Second guide to: Trance Metal". Mensxp.com. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  29. ^ "Unearthing The Electronic Metal Underground". Metalunderground.com. Retrieved 24 November 2017.