One of the thrills of getting into electronic music is gaining access to an entire history hidden in shadows. All genres have them, of course — stories of graded evolution, lists of influences from around the way, tales of artists who are giants in context but barely register outside their realm. All of these open up once certain assumptions about electronic music are laid to rest. The main one leads to an important paradox: Electronic music is both more AND less alien than most accounts would have it. Thanks to the bizarre (but ever-intriguing!) notion that machines play themselves, electronic music gets attacked as somehow less "real" than everything else — as if (1) the electricity that powers a guitar differs from the electricity pumped into a synthesizer, (2) hands holding drumsticks are unlike the hands used to trigger a drum-machine and, most crucially, (3) the sounds we hear as listeners owe their allure to the process by which they're made.
Inclusive histories of electronic music spin out parallel tales of demystification and devious mythmaking. Seeds can be found growing in old experimental classical and rock. But then, styles like house and techno went out of their way to celebrate clear and radical breaks from all that forecast their arrival. Either way, it helps to know the history — if only to recognize the ways that history can get scrambled.