Generation Ecstasy

Simon Reynolds, Author, Alastair Reynolds, Author
Simon Reynolds, Author, Alastair Reynolds, Author Little Brown and Company $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-74111-8
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
""I finally grasped viscerally why the music was made the way it was; how certain tingly textures goosepimpled your skin and particular oscillator riffs triggered the E-rush.... Finally, I understood ecstasy as a sonic science. And it became even clearer that the audience was the star."" British-born Spin magazine senior editor Reynolds (Blissed Out; coauthor, The Sex Revolts) offers a revved-up, detailed and passionate history and analysis of the throbbing transcontinental set of musics and cultures known as rave, covering its brightly morphing family tree from Detroit techno and Chicago house to Britain's 1988 ""summer of love,"" on through London jungle and the German avant-garde to the current warehouse parties and turntables of Europe and America. One chapter explains, cogently, the pleasures and effects of the drug Ecstasy (MDMA, or ""E""), without which rave would never have evolved; others describe the roles of the DJ, the remix and pirate radio, the ""trance"" and ""ambient"" trends of the early 1990s, the rise and fall of would-be stars, the impact of other drugs and the proliferation of current club ""subsubgenres."" Assuming no prior knowledge in his readers, Reynolds mixes social history, interviews with participants and scene-makers and his own analyses of the sounds, saturating his prose with the names of key places, tracks, groups, scenes and artists. Reynolds prefers and champions the less intellectual, more anonymous and dance-crazed parts of the rave galaxy, ""from the most machinic forms of house... through... bleep-and-bass, breakbeat house, Belgian hardcore, jungle, gabba, street garage and big beat."" If you don't know what those terms mean, here's how to find out. Two eight-page b&w photo inserts and a discography. (Sept.)
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