Cyberpunk Music

Cyberpunk Music We Released

This is cyberpunk music we have released on our label.

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prefecture_audio i: beach by megabyteGhost, cover, optimized for Twitter.
prefecture_audio i: beach by megabyteGhost, cover, optimized for Twitter.

megabyteGhost – prefecture_audio i: beach

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Cyberpunk Spotify Playlists

This is music, both published by us and by others, curated by us into playlists for your listening pleasure:

Cyberpunk Music We Like

This is cyberpunk music we like, but did not release ourselves.

Cover of the cyberpunk music album C​:​\​>CHKDSK /F by MASTER BOOT RECORD”/></figure>


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More Cyberpunk Spotify Playlists

This is music, both published by us and by others, curated by others into playlists for your listening pleasure:

What is Cyberpunk Music?

Before we answer that titular question, we need to first define Cyberpunk itself. Today defining cyberpunk, however, can be a difficult task.

What is Cyberpunk?

Cyberpunk may have started as just a literary movement but it has metamorphosed into a subcultural organism. Cyberpunk began as a little-known sub-genre of science fiction that is highlighted by advanced scientific technology, cybernetics, and an extreme societal change in a broken down urban, dystopian future setting. Some might say that it is best summarized as a sci-fi genre that focuses on “high tech and low life.” Ironically, while some cyberpunks insist they listen to whatever music they please regardless of genre, the burgeoning culture has already given birth to a specific music genre.

Cyberpunk Music

Screenshot from the cyberpunk movie Blade Runner.

Some cyberpunks might not always agree on what cyberpunk music entails. Some might argue that there is little that is special enough about the music to warrant a special sub-genre label at all. Thus, the music is as tricky to define as cyberpunk itself. After all, while it sounds like it was always a music movement, it was not.

In this case, the suffix “punk” does not have anything to do with music. It refers to the movement’s anarchistic element. Still, despite any disagreements, the music does contain some common elements. Indeed, some of the authoritative novelists state that if the music is modern and futuristic it is cyberpunk.

The sound is very electronic and is a busy blend of hardcore techno-like beats, added samples, elements of heavy/black metal, and lyrics concerning cyberculture, the future, and technology. Techno music is commonly considered to be cyberpunk since it’s created with computers and focuses on the common concept of the relationship between man and machine. The electronic body music (EBM) put out by UK bands is often considered to be cyberpunk. The overall sound is generally a musical mashup of electronic dance beats, noise, samples, sounds, and synths.

Yet other fans suggest that the purest form of this relatively new genre has yet to be heard and it might not be until an unknown time in some distant dark future. Performers have been deemed cyberpunk because of their musical content and aesthetic style. Acts who also focus on biochemical themes or dystopian futures better fit into the category.

Cyberpunk Inspires Others

Many current musicians have been inspired by specific cyberpunk authors or their stories. For example, Sonic Youth’s discs “Daydream Nation” and “Sister” were influenced by the literature of William Gibson and Philip K. Dick respectively. Gary Numan’s “Telekon,” “Replicas,” and “The Pleasure Principle” were also inspired by Dick.

Concept albums by the band Fear Factory are all centered around cybernetics, future dystopia, virtual realities, and the struggle between man and machine. Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 studio release “Year Zero” is another example. Kraftwerk’s “Computer World” and “The Man-Machine” records are both focused on humans growing dependent upon technology.

Billy Idol: “Cyberpunk”

Cover of Billy Idol's album Cyberpunk.

UK rocker Billy Idol released his fifth studio album, “Cyberpunk” June 29, 1993. Much of the dance-heavy, industrial material was recorded in the artist’s Macintosh-run studio. This release marked his official entry into the digital internet and the world of cyberpunk.

Idol drew heavily upon both cyberpunk culture and literature when making the disc. It is steeped in the theme of an everyman rising up to take on the soulless, faceless corporate world. The work was aimed at the audience who listens to the cyberpunk genre.

Some feel he hit the mark with such tracks as “Wasteland.” Note this sampling of lyrics:

“In VR land
The future of fun
Tell me what to do
In VR law
Computer crime
Um, so sublime
A fantasy scene
In my machine”

Such songs garnered him significant media attention although they also brought on a certain degree of controversy as well. There are cyberpunks who questioned whether all the lyrics on the platter are truly cyberpunk. They wondered if he has read any of Gibson’s work.

They wonder if Idol really knows anything about cyberpunk and even question his attitude. Did he use the term cyberpunk simply because the word “sounded so cool”? Perhaps.

By the same token, there are cyberpunks who enjoy this CD. So if some of those people listen to the recording, maybe it is cyberpunk after all. Idol had made some promotional appearances on the internet but in the end, the album was both a critical and commercial failure.

Whatever his intentions, there were numerous scornful claims of commercialization both on and offline. Since then, his interest in cyberpunk seems to have perhaps unsurprisingly waned. Still, cyberpunk has continued to be commercialized numerous times and many feel the genre has practically lost much of its original meaning.

David Bowie’s “1. Outside”

Cover of David Bowie's album Outside, which is said to be cyberpunk music.

The late English singer-songwriter and musician David Bowie dropped his “1. Outside” his 19th studio platter on September 25, 1995. Commonly known as “Outside”, it marked his reunion with producer and musician Brian Eno. More importantly, it focused on a cast of characters living in a dystopian world as they prepared to step into the 21st century.

It was a popular cyberpunk narrative-fueled concept LP that put the artist back into the mainstream rock music scene thanks largely to the singles “Strangers When We Meet”, “The Hearts Filthy Lesson”, and “Hallo Spaceboy.” The latter was actually remixed by the English synth-pop duo known as the Pet Shop Boys. The disc received good reviews and was enough of a commercial success to be released as a limited edition two-CD set in 2004 and as a double vinyl album in 2015.

Other Cyberpunk Musicians

One act that is perhaps closest to being a cyberpunk band is Front Line Assembly. Their 1992 release, “Tactical Neural Implant”, is extremely cyberpunk. Their ninth album, it contains engaging, complex arrangements and yet remains entertainingly accessible to fans of the genre.

Additional acts whose music has been categorized as cyberpunk include Angelspit, Clock DVA, Psydoll, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Yellow Magic Orchestra. As this goes to press some of the best-selling albums by relatively newer cyberpunk performers include “Hardwired” by Mitch Murder, “The City In Rain” by Subaeris, and 2814’s “Rain Temple.”