The only thing we have to fear from experimental electronic music is the designation itself, and even that loses its bugaboo factor upon closer examination. Just for fun, let's break it down — backwards. "Music" is what you're here for, stuff made from organized sound. "Electronic" means somebody had to plug something in to make it. "Experimental" merits deeper consideration. Is the artist simply challenging her or himself? Or created a work that sounds like nothing before it? With these twelve examples, yes and yes is the answer… and so is "none of the above." Think of listening to experimental music in a "choose your own adventure" sense, as a means of transcending everyday reality that costs far less than a trip to Belize or a custom latex nun's habit.
After all, it's the potential for unfettered exploration that makes experimentalists in the first place. No musical genre — not even punk rock — is more relentlessly DIY. Independent labels, often artist-owned-and-operated, predominate in the field, along with self-produced recordings. This isn't to say that they're not thoroughly professional. Many practitioners — techno prestidigitators Robert Henke and Jan Jelinek, for example — boast extensive experience in more visible realms. Others, like Eliane Radigue, got their start in the classical world; same for Pauline Oliveros, who has half a century of experimentation under her belt. By no means is her situation atypical. Age, like ethnic background and religious convictions, means nothing in a game whose only rule is "make it new." DJ Spooky almost nailed experimental electronic music's essence in the liner notes to 1996's Songs of a Dead Dreamer, selling himself slightly short by proclaiming, "Give me two records and I'll make you a universe." Like the other artists in this eMusic Dozen, he does just that with only one.