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Energy Flash is the story of rave culture. The first critical history of the music as well as the drugs, Energy Flash charts the journey from Chicago house and Detroit techno to the blissed-out daze of acid house and 'Madchester', through the mass hysteria of early nineties hardcore rave and the birth of jungle, right up to today's glorious confusion of styles and scenes; Energy Flash is the story of rave culture. The first critical history of the music as well as the drugs, Energy Flash charts the journey from Chicago house and Detroit techno to the blissed-out daze of acid house and 'Madchester', through the mass hysteria of early nineties hardcore rave and the birth of jungle, right up to today's glorious confusion of styles and scenes; trance, trip hop, gabba, big beat, speed garage, and more.From the crusty-raver free-party scene to pirate radio, from the politics of Ecstasy culture to the darkside of recreational drug use, Energy Flash is the definitive chronicle of rave music and dance culture. Incorporating interviews with the prime movers in electronic dance music Derrick May, Paul Oakenfold, Mr C, 808 State, A Guy Called Gerlad, Primal Scream, Orbital, The Prodigy, Spiral Tribe, Goldie, 4 Hero, Aphex Twin, Tricky, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Richie Hawtin, DJ Shadow, Alec Empire, to name just a few - Energy Flash celebrates rave culture's quest for the perfect beat and the ultimate rush.


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Energy Flash is the story of rave culture. The first critical history of the music as well as the drugs, Energy Flash charts the journey from Chicago house and Detroit techno to the blissed-out daze of acid house and 'Madchester', through the mass hysteria of early nineties hardcore rave and the birth of jungle, right up to today's glorious confusion of styles and scenes; Energy Flash is the story of rave culture. The first critical history of the music as well as the drugs, Energy Flash charts the journey from Chicago house and Detroit techno to the blissed-out daze of acid house and 'Madchester', through the mass hysteria of early nineties hardcore rave and the birth of jungle, right up to today's glorious confusion of styles and scenes; trance, trip hop, gabba, big beat, speed garage, and more.From the crusty-raver free-party scene to pirate radio, from the politics of Ecstasy culture to the darkside of recreational drug use, Energy Flash is the definitive chronicle of rave music and dance culture. Incorporating interviews with the prime movers in electronic dance music Derrick May, Paul Oakenfold, Mr C, 808 State, A Guy Called Gerlad, Primal Scream, Orbital, The Prodigy, Spiral Tribe, Goldie, 4 Hero, Aphex Twin, Tricky, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Richie Hawtin, DJ Shadow, Alec Empire, to name just a few - Energy Flash celebrates rave culture's quest for the perfect beat and the ultimate rush.

30 review for Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I finally woke up in 2004, after a decade of living this book. Clubland, and Party Monster, are two other books that capture the essence of this so-called era. It was very informative and quite revealing of how rave culture came about. It gives good insight into how the music was created, how the parties got started, where the drugs came from and what they did, and how and why it all ended. I don't know what to say. If you never took part in any of it, and you want to understand what went on, the I finally woke up in 2004, after a decade of living this book. Clubland, and Party Monster, are two other books that capture the essence of this so-called era. It was very informative and quite revealing of how rave culture came about. It gives good insight into how the music was created, how the parties got started, where the drugs came from and what they did, and how and why it all ended. I don't know what to say. If you never took part in any of it, and you want to understand what went on, then this is the book for you. If you were there, but can't remember why, then this is the book for you. But if you lived it, breathed it, and loved it, then this is just a text book, and can't truely explain what it felt like to take part in the greatest love and freedom fest, ever. The 60's was about being who you were. The 90's and early early part of this century was about being whatever you wanted to be. The thing about this book is that while it gives you the data, it doesn't give you the feelings. The experience was different for everybody, even those at the same parties. I guess x, lsd, ghb, and meth do that to you. There is an ebb and a flow to the lifestyle, and it lives on today. You can still find raves and amazing djs in every major city if you know where to look, but they won't be run by Clear Channel. That's one idea that this book got exactly right... it went from being an expression to being a show. Those who truely cared still live the life, but don't shove it in peoples faces any more as they now want to keep it to themselves.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    This book is a very detailed, autobiographical history of electronic dance music. Reynolds bathes the book in fountains of extraneous adjectives. (I can easily visualize him doing lines of blow off a thesaurus page between writing sessions). Nevertheless, Generation Ecstasy is a great read for true EDM nerds like myself. I would love to see an updated edition including the Great Dubstep Revolution of 2005-2010. That is, if Reynolds' dopamine receptors can handle it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Axel Barceló

    The good parts are very good, but the bad parts are also quite bad. The journalistic parts are better than the criticism parts, except perhaps for the conclusion, where the overall argument for hardcore and against freestyle is clearly summarized. I specially like Reynolds when he gets cranky. His slamming of artcore drum and bass is merciless but also insightful!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Simon Reynolds is a British music journalist (born in 1963) who has covered several different genres of popular music, but experiences in clubs, raves and with the drug Ecstasy have made a powerful impact on his life. Energy Flash is a voluminous survey of electronic dance music (EDM) and the culture (style, drugs) surrounding it since its start in the 1980s. The first edition of the book (titled Generation Ecstasy in the United States) appeared in 1998, but a second edition describes later deve Simon Reynolds is a British music journalist (born in 1963) who has covered several different genres of popular music, but experiences in clubs, raves and with the drug Ecstasy have made a powerful impact on his life. Energy Flash is a voluminous survey of electronic dance music (EDM) and the culture (style, drugs) surrounding it since its start in the 1980s. The first edition of the book (titled Generation Ecstasy in the United States) appeared in 1998, but a second edition describes later developments up to 2007. While Reynolds focuses mainly on the British scene, there is ample coverage of US developments. Besides starting his history with the Detroit techno and Chicago house movements without which the UK would have never had acid house and everything after, Reynolds also dedicates an entire chapter to US raves, highlighting the very different vibe there compared to Europe. The German scene is also covered, but in considerably less detail than the UK or US. Through each evolution in EDM, Reynolds mentions iconic tracks of the era. Take, for instance, this bit on “Voodoo Ray” by A Guy Called Gerald: With its undulant groove and dense percussive foliage, its glassy, gem-faceted bass-pulse and tropical bird synth-chatter, ‘Voodoo Ray’ looks ahead to the polyrhythmic luxuriance of Gerald’s mid-nineties forays into jungle, as do the tremulous whimpers and giggles of the blissed-out female vocal. When the first edition of this book was published in the 1990s, readers must have felt somewhat frustrated by these vague verbal descriptions, which don't really impart what the track really sounds like. However, we now live in the age of YouTube, when readers can easily hear nearly every track mentioned in Energy Flash. Much of the book's value lies in walking you through classic tracks that you can go on to download yourself. What seriously undermines Energy Flash, however, is a lack of fact-checking and an inability to distinguish opinion from fact. As Reynolds makes clear in the introduction, his preference is a genre of aural assault and chemical saturation, where the names of the producers of tracks or even DJs is irrelevant, the dancers in a club living in the moment. For him, this is the truly revolutionary music of the era. He sees notions of “progressive house”, “intellectual dance music” and “home listening” as throwbacks to established music genres. Of course it’s fine to have an opinion, and any reader is likely to find some strands of EDM more worthwhile than others. However, Reynold can't help making snide comments like “No one listens to The Future Sound of London any more” (my paraphrase), but a glance at FSOL's LastFM artist page reveals that over half a million people still do, with younger audiences continually discovering them and leaving ecstatic comments on the wall. Even the progressive rock that Reynolds feels progressive dance music follows into historical oblivion has shown considerably staying power if one simply looks at its internet presence. There are also readily spottable factual errors in e.g. dates: the “Battle of Beaulieu” between trad and modern jazz fans happened at the 1960 festival, not the 1961 one; the 1992 hardcore scene wasn't inspired by Playstation games because that console was not released until two years later. We get misspellings like “Liz Frazer” for the chanteuse of Cocteau Twins (whose last name is in fact Fraser) and outright misrememberings like “Trevor Seaman” for “Dave Seaman”. Mistakes like these lead one to doubt the overall reliability of Reynolds’ history.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shant

    It's closer to 2.5 stars but that's more because of what I thought the book would cover versus what it actually covered. As the author noted at the end, there aren't that many books on this subject, so the information was mostly new. I appreciated him mentioning appropriation/gentrification a lot, although I wish that he wouldn't use autistic as an adjective so frequently, even if 1998 had different standards then today. I don't know how I feel about the book's handling of ecstasy- it's not like It's closer to 2.5 stars but that's more because of what I thought the book would cover versus what it actually covered. As the author noted at the end, there aren't that many books on this subject, so the information was mostly new. I appreciated him mentioning appropriation/gentrification a lot, although I wish that he wouldn't use autistic as an adjective so frequently, even if 1998 had different standards then today. I don't know how I feel about the book's handling of ecstasy- it's not like this book will be read by impressionable kids, but it's still a drug with health side effects and it's not just an 'Everyone is together uwu' thing. I wish the book was written later, so that way electronica's impact on the mainstream could have been written about more. The book jacket mentions Madonna, David Bowie, and U2 all doing rave inspired music, but seeing chapters about how they decided to do rave music, and how they were received in the community, would have been interesting. Talking about more later decade artists like Moloko or Sneaker Pimps would be interesting too, or waiting until electroclash became a thing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jelena

    A comprehensive a-z review of techno music and sub-styles. An interesting insight into all aspects of rave culture of the 90's and accompanying events. I was a little bit overwhelmed with details sometimes and skipped a few pages but all in all - a great book and truly a journey.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Bjelland

    Simon Reynolds could write a book about polka and I'd still get completely engrossed by it, so I feel lucky that his specialties happen to overlap with music I find myself obsessing over anyway, first (for me) with Rip It Up and Start Again / Post-Punk and now with Generation Ecstasy / Techno. As a personal history of a genre that practically co-evolved with ecstasy, some of the writing can come off a bit... well, ecstatic, but I'm inclined to find it endearing rather than grating. That's partly Simon Reynolds could write a book about polka and I'd still get completely engrossed by it, so I feel lucky that his specialties happen to overlap with music I find myself obsessing over anyway, first (for me) with Rip It Up and Start Again / Post-Punk and now with Generation Ecstasy / Techno. As a personal history of a genre that practically co-evolved with ecstasy, some of the writing can come off a bit... well, ecstatic, but I'm inclined to find it endearing rather than grating. That's partly because it all feels of a piece with his larger project of moving music criticism away from the confining perspective of Music As Literature and towards one of Music As Pure Experience, and partly because I came to the book already converted. Still, whether or not you share his love for that particular era of techno, a great case study in how subcultures form and mutate and cyclically storm into / recede from the popular consciousness.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    Although a bit dated now, an excellent history of the origins of the rave scene in both the UK and America. This book stands out from others in the field due to 1) Reynolds skilled writing style, 2) his knowledge of the many variants of electronic music and ability to describe them for non-listeners, and 3) his theorizing about the meaning of the culture. He manages to demonstrate both that he's a fan and participant, but also able to turn a critical eye on the whole thing. If only this were req Although a bit dated now, an excellent history of the origins of the rave scene in both the UK and America. This book stands out from others in the field due to 1) Reynolds skilled writing style, 2) his knowledge of the many variants of electronic music and ability to describe them for non-listeners, and 3) his theorizing about the meaning of the culture. He manages to demonstrate both that he's a fan and participant, but also able to turn a critical eye on the whole thing. If only this were required reading for everyone today whose knowledge of electronic dance music begins with Deadmau5, David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Frank Mitchell

    It was a great read when it was first written. But with much of Simon Reynolds work, it has a very one sided British take on a very much American culture. Even though the scene was born in the U.K., it seems as this book was written to remind us all that that is where it came from, even though I still believe this book has it's good moments.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    Overall a well written book although there's some glaring mistakes on the names of some of the record names mentioned. One unforgivable mistake is when he talks about Altern-8's track "Activ-8" where he says the producers daughter is the one who says the line, "Nice one, top one, get sorted". Sorry, what? Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of rave music knows damn well it's "Top one, nice one, get sorted". Totally unforgivable, and if he wasn't sure then the author could have simply gone to Youtube Overall a well written book although there's some glaring mistakes on the names of some of the record names mentioned. One unforgivable mistake is when he talks about Altern-8's track "Activ-8" where he says the producers daughter is the one who says the line, "Nice one, top one, get sorted". Sorry, what? Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of rave music knows damn well it's "Top one, nice one, get sorted". Totally unforgivable, and if he wasn't sure then the author could have simply gone to Youtube and played the damn track. He could have even typed the sentence in to Google and it would have returned a bunch of articles that would have corrected his sorry ass. That drops point for me, Reynolds isn't as knowledgeable as he makes out. Then there's the desperate attempt to find and name a load of sub-genres that I'm just not sure about. I'm not saying I know every genre and sub-genre when it comes to "dance music" but some of the ones he mentions I've just never heard of, never heard anyone talk about, never read about in Mixmag etc. Referring to "hardcore" as "'ardkore" is just utter bollocks, nobody did that, give over you big melt. And finally, there's a great big section on American rave culture which frankly sounds dubious. Apart from inventing the music courtesy of Chicago and Detroit, America knows nothing about the rave scene, they're decades behind. Some of the stories just sound like they've been told to him by a bullshitting teen and the author has lapped it up like a thirsty cat. Overall, it's an interesting book, had to skip a few pages here and there because he was talking bollocks but it's a good read if you're an old skool raver. There's a decent track list at the back of the book too which will help to pick up and tracks from Youtube that you might not already have in your collection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Way more thorough than 'Last Night a DJ Saved My Life,' 'Energy Flash' will give you the score on no small number of electronic genres and sub-genres, though Reynolds, by his own admission, focuses disproportionately on hardcore and her stylistic offspring. I personally sought out this book to read what he has to say about UK Garage, but what I found was rather unsatisfactory compared to what he wrote in his 1999 article for The Wire (https://www.thewire.co.uk/in-writing/...), which was surprisi Way more thorough than 'Last Night a DJ Saved My Life,' 'Energy Flash' will give you the score on no small number of electronic genres and sub-genres, though Reynolds, by his own admission, focuses disproportionately on hardcore and her stylistic offspring. I personally sought out this book to read what he has to say about UK Garage, but what I found was rather unsatisfactory compared to what he wrote in his 1999 article for The Wire (https://www.thewire.co.uk/in-writing/...), which was surprisingly more in-depth and entertaining to read than his book chapter on garage in 'Energy Flash.' The ideal way to read this book would be to go chapter-by-chapter, listening to playlists with the songs name-dropped in each section before moving on to the next, in-order to get the full-understanding of what Reynolds is talking about. Some kind soul has already compiled a master-playlist with every song mentioned in 'Energy Flash' (that are available on Spotify at least), but not sure about individual chapter-themed ones. On a literary level I'm pleased that Reynolds does a nice job of tempering his revery for each style of music by highlighting its faults, and vice versa, but readers beware: in addition to some unsavory anachronistic terminology, Reynolds gets pretty heavy-handed with the adjectives (often of his own coinage). In a single paragraph you might get words like "orgasma-tronic," "eroto-mystic," "pornotopian," and "avant-lumpen" tossed around in fast-succession. When he gets this terminological bombardment right though, it can be pretty funny, and at its best, quite artful.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kurtzprzezce

    Very informative, well written (well, maybe except overusing few adjectives). I liked that Raynolds adresses issues which were avoided by scholars from CCCS (Birmingham school) : dancing, drugs etc. Sometimes his explanations are contradictory thought. For example: why people started listening gabber and hardcore in Europe? Because this is music for people who no longer feels warm rush while on ecstasy. Why did people enjoyed hardcore in USA? Because this is music for people who are still on the Very informative, well written (well, maybe except overusing few adjectives). I liked that Raynolds adresses issues which were avoided by scholars from CCCS (Birmingham school) : dancing, drugs etc. Sometimes his explanations are contradictory thought. For example: why people started listening gabber and hardcore in Europe? Because this is music for people who no longer feels warm rush while on ecstasy. Why did people enjoyed hardcore in USA? Because this is music for people who are still on their ecstasy honeymoon. It looks like drugs serves for as easy explanation of various phenomena and sometimes it seems to be very far-fetched. Numerous references to psychoanalysis and poststructuralist like Deluze or Kristeva were also irritating. I don't understand how people still believes this crap to be true. Nevertheless I really liked this book. All the more because I share many of Raynolds' view regarding hardcore rave.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ronanm

    Great book that covers the evolution of electronic music from the pioneers of Detroit and Chicago, through to EDM in America. I really enjoyed the discussion up to around the nineties, but then I really started to lose interest a bit, particularly in the final chapters. I really like how the author names songs that defines certain sounds or developments he's discussing. As I was reading I was able to look these songs up on YouTube and listen and judging by comments on some of these I wasn't the Great book that covers the evolution of electronic music from the pioneers of Detroit and Chicago, through to EDM in America. I really enjoyed the discussion up to around the nineties, but then I really started to lose interest a bit, particularly in the final chapters. I really like how the author names songs that defines certain sounds or developments he's discussing. As I was reading I was able to look these songs up on YouTube and listen and judging by comments on some of these I wasn't the only one. All in all a great read for dance music enthusiasts.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Denton Peter McCabe

    It was a decent over view, what really ruins the book are the tedious descriptions of music. Reynolds describes music with words like “sine tones” when there are no sine tones, or “Black Sabbath-y” when there is no guitar, and with borderline racist nonsense like “shaman” and “zen” and “voodoo.” I actually put this one down, after 300 pages. There has to be a better overview if this music out there.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kieran Press-Reynolds

    Awesome book. The author is incredibly knowledgeable about the subject and has a ton of interesting ideas. It can get a bit rambling at times, and if you're not interested in the whole of rave music and British's electronic music history, you may feel a bit lost. As an American, however, who knew nothing about this stuff beforehand, I can say I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot and have a ton of good new music to sift through now!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matt Nielson

    An exhaustive examination and critique of the history, politics, fashions and tunes of rave music and dance culture. Reynolds does a great job of recording the inherently ephemeral experience of going to a night club or rave, and going even further, provides sharp and insightful criticism on its aesthetic evolution through the years. This is what all cultural criticism should be - delivered by fan/experts, their passion balanced by skepticism.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matt Bitonti

    When this book was originally published, the reader could nod along and be impressed by author's selection of songs (flip directly to the discography, it's all classics). The reader could be transported by the author's lush and uncannily accurate descriptions of the tracks. But the reader probably couldn't hear the music in real time to verify how accurate these descriptions are, or if the song was to their personal taste. Simon Reynolds can convey in words how great, for example, Green Velvet's When this book was originally published, the reader could nod along and be impressed by author's selection of songs (flip directly to the discography, it's all classics). The reader could be transported by the author's lush and uncannily accurate descriptions of the tracks. But the reader probably couldn't hear the music in real time to verify how accurate these descriptions are, or if the song was to their personal taste. Simon Reynolds can convey in words how great, for example, Green Velvet's "Flash" Remixes were. But when this book came out there was no way to experience it, on demand, as the reader makes their way through the book. Sure, a person in theory could go to a record store but these were often low pressings and inventory was spotty. Many of these all time tracks were snapped up quickly and not repressed for years. It's a totally different experience to read this book and hear the songs in real time, I guess that's my point. It's a guidebook to early EDM: the roots of house, techno, breakbeats, everything. Check it out if you can find a copy. I rescued my copy in a used bookstore in Rhode Island.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alexander_Horne

    The most comprehensive and enlightening read on dance/electronic music history and lineage. Lots of great memories evoked for those that lived through it. An abundance of interesting insights and additional observations made by an initial outsider looking in. Must read for anyone interested in music or societal movements.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Escritt

    Intriguing especially on the music's Detroit origins, but marred by the most maddening metaphors. He's also far more at home in Britain and the US, and i shows: I'd have liked to learn far more about the cultural and social environments that supported Dutch and German techno.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Kudos to Simon Reynolds, this is indeed one hell of an anthology. I’m glad I partied through the 90s and came out the other side a fully fledged generation x-er. From Hanger 13 to The Cross and finally loosing faith in Turnmills. It would be good to see where Simon thinks we are now in 2020.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Flim

    Awesome Rave music culture book familiar name in dance music industry but more from north america fun book to read

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mac

    Can't decide what it is. Bits of really engaging stuff but overall scattershot and interminably long.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fernando

    Very detailed history of techno music. I was expecting something différent

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Line

    Extensive but horribly dated in parts, and unwavering in seeking it's own flawed conclusion at expense of alternative views.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

    Energy Flash is a history of rave, more or less everything from acid house and Detroit techno through to dubstep, trad garage and all that. I was never quite an evangelical devotee of the scene - or the scenes, I suppose, but I've liked some of the music over the years, and have even done the occasional Watusi whilst munching on some of those lovely disco biscuits they used to sell. Simon Reynolds does as thorough a job with this as he did with the excellent Rip It Up and Start Again, covering a Energy Flash is a history of rave, more or less everything from acid house and Detroit techno through to dubstep, trad garage and all that. I was never quite an evangelical devotee of the scene - or the scenes, I suppose, but I've liked some of the music over the years, and have even done the occasional Watusi whilst munching on some of those lovely disco biscuits they used to sell. Simon Reynolds does as thorough a job with this as he did with the excellent Rip It Up and Start Again, covering all sorts of aspects which should probably be covered before they slip completely from the memories of those involved, and additionally coming up with some fascinating insights. His great strength here seems to be that he takes a very much partisan attitude, so there's not a great deal of objectivity - which is probably a pity if you're a fan of intelligent drum and bass - but the pay off is that here we have someone who actually understands what he's talking about, as distinct from just dipping a toe in because it all sounded jolly intriguing on that Derek Bailey record. Personally, I loathe the very idea of intelligent dance music and Future Sound of London were always a massive yawn, so I'm happy. Actually I could have done without the section on trip-hop too, but never mind. I skimmed, then skipped those chapters altogether, although I'm not sure whether that's due to my finding the subject fairly dull, or whether the author's lack of enthusiasm was showing. If the book has any faults - aside from bothering with trip-hop - they're minor and easily overlooked given the humongous page count. The only things I noticed were that he doesn't understand rap, or is at least listening to it with the same ears with which he probably listened to Wire and Joy Division - strange given how well he avoids writing about dance as a variation on rock music; and a tendency to repetition when discussing something or other to do with ecstasy, except I can't even remember what it was now so I don't suppose it matters. The last music related book I read was Do It Yourself: A History of Music in Medway by Stephen H. Morris and it wasn't very good, let down mainly by a surfeit of bland objectivity and a narrative voice resembling that of Alan Partridge. Now this is how you write about music.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    I never realized how much house music (or, more innacurately, "techno") had in common with punk music. Both genres were born in the hands of untrained amateurs who took instruments and bent them very far from their original purpose. Reynolds overlays the many, many sub-genres of house against the waves of ecstasy that first hit in England and the U.S in the mid-80's, and continued on through the 90's. He argues, persuasively, that Ecstasy itself is a rather harmless drug that can create a sense I never realized how much house music (or, more innacurately, "techno") had in common with punk music. Both genres were born in the hands of untrained amateurs who took instruments and bent them very far from their original purpose. Reynolds overlays the many, many sub-genres of house against the waves of ecstasy that first hit in England and the U.S in the mid-80's, and continued on through the 90's. He argues, persuasively, that Ecstasy itself is a rather harmless drug that can create a sense of community understanding and peaceful spirit that is therapeutic and revelatory. But, as people seek bigger and better highs, they turn to harder drugs, and the music they listen to can disintegrate from blissed-out house to dark jungle beats and beyond. Reynolds also points out that house is fundamentally opposed to the genius-makes-a-concept-album standard that we hold most rock music up to, as house was meant to be played by DJ's as part of an anonymous, intoxicated ride in a club. Techno needed to be adapted for careful home listening, and most of the results, he says, were bloated and hollow. While his initial premise seems accurate, he uses it to bludgeon the auteur-seeking rock and roll crowd, which seems unfair given his earlier allusions to punk. Any musical genre can create blissful tracks, genius albums, and pretentious stars, and the process is not so much the product of any one genre's fundamental qualities as it is the necessities of turning an artistic output into a free market career. I'm not sure that music which relies on drugs is any more or less sacred than music that relies on marketing: both require bending our basic senses via a conscious process. Overall, highly recommended. There is a history of music here that you do not know. Reynolds, as relatable as the best music critics, blends his personal experiences as a raver with astute critical observations, allowing us to follow along and learn on his own journey through this art.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I really enjoyed this book. It was a very in-depth look at rave culture and the evolution of techno music from the 80's till the end of the 90's, with more depth and focus being placed on the early 90's. It covers a number of different rave scenes that developed both in the UK and the US, along with many of the artists and DJ's involved. Reynolds writes from the perspective of an insider (he was at many of the legendary raves he covers) discussing the culture, the drugs and most obviously the mu I really enjoyed this book. It was a very in-depth look at rave culture and the evolution of techno music from the 80's till the end of the 90's, with more depth and focus being placed on the early 90's. It covers a number of different rave scenes that developed both in the UK and the US, along with many of the artists and DJ's involved. Reynolds writes from the perspective of an insider (he was at many of the legendary raves he covers) discussing the culture, the drugs and most obviously the music. It's not an unbiased history; he definitely has his opinions and he shares them, but covers the aspects and music he both liked and disliked. He's a very good writer. His use of language is superb, and he really conjures up the scenes and the sounds, so as a reader, I often felt like I'd been there myself. And if you don't happen to like or understand techno, he delves into that, giving the reader an much deeper understanding of what it was and is all about, from the musician/production angle, the innovations, the philosophy and the cultural impact. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who even has a marginal interest in techno or rave culture, whether you were part of it or not.

  28. 5 out of 5

    David

    Reynolds is an amazing writer. In journalistic capacity he flows with verve, but what amazes is his grasp and descriptiveness of the myriad of fractionating genres and subcultures, the types and combinations of sounds, the associated sensations (aural, pharmacological, emotional), etc. It's beyond just hip, discriminating prose: Reynolds must be a synesthete. But the book’s immersive analysis and lengthy artist-chronicling was more than this novice wanted (plus the subject has an ugly side I don Reynolds is an amazing writer. In journalistic capacity he flows with verve, but what amazes is his grasp and descriptiveness of the myriad of fractionating genres and subcultures, the types and combinations of sounds, the associated sensations (aural, pharmacological, emotional), etc. It's beyond just hip, discriminating prose: Reynolds must be a synesthete. But the book’s immersive analysis and lengthy artist-chronicling was more than this novice wanted (plus the subject has an ugly side I don’t want to spend time on)—so I just surfed the book, select-focusing on more interesting sections and skimming others. I longed for more memoir-reportage on the experience. (There’s some, but not much). Frustratingly, the author acknowledges (in an epilogue) this regret about what he’d have done differently: “I’d have more about the experiential side… The structure of a night, the journey you go on. The adventures, the ephemeral encounters, the fleeting perceptions…” Oh, well. While I wish this “journey” was written more as journey (hence only 3 stars)—for the niche chronicle it aims to be, it’s top shelf.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    If you don't know much about the history of edm and raving, or only a general sense of it: there's a lot more to its history than you might realize. The Quick Overview: The druggy 60s-esque glory of E in early 90s London fell into the darker turn towards harder drugs and sounds when the buzz and the optimistic rush wore off and working class kids wanted even harsher sounds, then UK Jungle gets involved to add in some Afro-Jamacian polyrhythmic overdrive, genres mesh and melt and react against on If you don't know much about the history of edm and raving, or only a general sense of it: there's a lot more to its history than you might realize. The Quick Overview: The druggy 60s-esque glory of E in early 90s London fell into the darker turn towards harder drugs and sounds when the buzz and the optimistic rush wore off and working class kids wanted even harsher sounds, then UK Jungle gets involved to add in some Afro-Jamacian polyrhythmic overdrive, genres mesh and melt and react against one another, the middle class bobo types try to claim "intelligence" over insanity and make narcisssus gazing pretentious stuff that doesn't translate to dance, corporate cows try to cash in, all that is solid melts into the streaming cloud services, and edm is still evolving in its own way. What I want to see, and what I'm working on myself, is taking the energy and power of edm and putting lyrics to it that get past the triviality of pop, the diluted false glamor of indie rock nowdays, and past rock into a zone where electronic catchiness, danceability, and lyricality fuse. Bring on the post-pop.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Only decided to read select chapters, but here's my take on what I read. The topic wasn't really down my alley, after all, but a lot of what Reynolds had to say about the ecstasy and rave culture was interesting. There were times when he name-drops left and right, making it hard to keep track of who's who. The writing, at times, can also get somewhat boring. Otherwise, Overall, he profiles the scenes in Chicago, New York, and the U.K. completely and goes through all of the further influence rave Only decided to read select chapters, but here's my take on what I read. The topic wasn't really down my alley, after all, but a lot of what Reynolds had to say about the ecstasy and rave culture was interesting. There were times when he name-drops left and right, making it hard to keep track of who's who. The writing, at times, can also get somewhat boring. Otherwise, Overall, he profiles the scenes in Chicago, New York, and the U.K. completely and goes through all of the further influence rave and hardcore had in the 90s and even in today's music scene. My favorite chapter was on pirate radio, although not that lengthy, where Reynolds goes through how pirate radio DJs had to be over-the-top to gain listeners and very wary of any sort of government plans to shut them down. Reynolds is a great music historian.

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