Illbient is another one of those pesky electronic music genres
. It's a movement centered in New York City
, and the term was coined by writer Paul D. Miller, whom you may know as DJ Spooky
Illbient is the sound of urban decay. Unlike Detroit techno, however, it's not the sound of the abandoned buildings of a former industrial center, interpreted by hopeful teenagers. It's the sound of a city rotting away slowly and barely holding together, interpreted by jaded artists.
The actual music behind which this philosophy lies is based in ambient and hip hop mostly, coated with an intellectual polish and a cosmopolitan vibe. (Spooky studied French in college, ya know, and he's on the faculty of the European Graduate School) Samples of Debussy, city noises, spoken word, and avant-garde poetry, all disappearing behind a nighttime breakbeat. You could call it IDM, if you don't think that name is a load of sardine tripe, but don't expect experimental granular synthesis techniques or glitch hop; illbient is a successful musical experiment, and as such gets its own friggin' name.
Now none of this is to say that illbient doesn't play nice. There doesn't seem to be an insular illbient scene, except perhaps in New York, but everything has a scene there. DJ Spooky performed at the first ever DEMF, and did an album vs. Scanner. Rockers Hi-fi did a DJ-Kicks mix.