Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture

Simon Reynolds. Soft Skull, $15.95 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-1-59376-407-4
Reynolds (Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84) shakes up his landmark 1998 volume on rave culture (Generation Ecstasy) with an expanded and updated edition that promises much and does not disappoint. This pop culture narrative is hip, perfect for the newcomer and old guard raver, and appropriately addictive. While Reynolds's approach is definitely biased—the author candidly acknowledges his anthropologically problematic role as "participant observer—", the result is "a constant shifting…between calm ‘omniscience' and enflamed monomania," and it makes for great reading. Reynolds guides readers through the early days of techno in late 1970s and early 80s New York, Chicago, and Detroit, to the "pure Balearic" sounds of Ibiza, and onward to the Madchester movement in northern England and 24-hour party people. While the occasional glorification of drugs may polarize some readers, (Ecstasy, or MDMA, is posited as "the remedy for the alienation caused by an atomized society"), Reynolds dutifully chronicles the negative buzz surrounding substance abuse and the inevitable retreat of dance culture back to the underground. Cue mid-90s pirate radio, Euro-Trance, and a tamer but no less soulful post-millennial U.K. garage scene and its compliment across the Atlantic in U.S. nu-wave revivalist movements. Innovatively cyclical in its sampling of the past with eyes on the future, rave music and dance culture continue to morph into new subversive musical forms. For the moment though, Reynolds's guide is the one to beat. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 554 pages - 978-0-330-45420-9
Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-1-59376-477-7
Paperback - 688 pages - 978-84-942167-3-2
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