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Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415923736
ISBN-10: 0415923735
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The title refers to the drug of choice at the multimedia events typical of Reynolds' subject: the "rave" scene, in which impressionable youngsters congregate in such roomy venues as pastures and warehouses to be musically entertained while under the influence. Rave music includes techno and several other strains, all of them electronic. Reynolds traces it from the German group Kraftwerk's "Krautrock" to disco and funk to the many rave-friendly formats extant today. Besides this music history, Reynolds discusses the panoply of rave-worthy drugs and proper rave attitude and deportment. His occasionally hyperventilating prose may discourage nonfan readers, yet this is a neat history of a cultural anomaly--a strain of pop music with a large audience but nearly no presence in the regular pop music media. And as a special bonus, Reynolds reveals why nitrous oxide is called "hippy crack." A solid addition for pop music collections and perhaps a source of ideas for an in-library festival (well . . . maybe not). Mike Tribby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (July 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415923735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415923736
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Generation Ecstasy is probably the best book-length study of electronic music available right now. It is comprehensive and discusses just about every sub-genre of elctronic out there. Reynolds even makes a few categories to suit his own critical purposes. While certainly well worth the read, the book has serious flaws.
In an effort to disavow his own bourgeois status as music critic and conoisseur, Reynolds routinely sides with the more "populist" sub-genres out there. Jungle and gabba are good. Trip-hop and IDM are snobby. Hardcore and house get the thumbs up, 'intelligent drum and bass' and illbient get the thumbs down. While he often has a point, this siding with what 'moves the masses' turns too easily into apologetics for the culture industry (the mass manufacture and consumption of musical cliché). Under the misguided notion that if a certain class or ethnic group consumes a certain type of music it must be good stuff, Reynolds gets pulled into the knee-jerk dismissal of more "marginal" creativity. At certain points in his book I get weird echoes of Edmund Burke attacking the French Revolution and insisting on the necessity for incremental change within the hallowed lines of tradition. Whatever happened to radical criticism? Reynolds should know that "what sells" is not necessarily the destiny of a genre. The future of music is often (but admittedly not always) heard in its avant-garde. I think Reynolds' pseudo-populism goes hand in hand with his annoying habit of tracing electronic music back onto the grids of music he already understands.
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Format: Hardcover
Having just worked my way through the UK publication of this book, alternitavely titled "Energy Flash", I must say that I have been given a decent working history of movement that has become a dominant part of youth culture over the last ten years. But as the author remains a fan (one might even say preacher for) of one particular sub genre of these varied strains of music, his analysis and interpretation often fails to deliver the goods. If Mr. Reynolds were not desperately searching for a modern day incarnation of the late 60's hippy attempt to redefine society through a common musical affinity, he might be willing to accept genres such as ambient, prog. House and the like as valid artistic fields. But since all music must satisfy his need for underground consciousness raising revolt(in this case through a culture that drops out of the mainstream completely a la expressionists of the nineteen twenties)he finds it difficult to accept a music that is merely intended to entice and provide pleasure or rediefne the way we think of musicality. The resulting rejections and arrogant denials of alternatives to the dance till you lose yourself 'ardkore ultimately remain self indulgent and tainted by his wishful myth formation. The further inability to critically question the prescribed goals of this 'ardkore also leaves a strong desire for more discussion. However this is where the text is also the most intriguing. Reynolds with his solid knowledge of the genre manages to pique interest and in my case have led to a renewed desire to search out a truly intelligent discourse on the movement and its consequences. On a final note the obsessive UK-centric approach to the music also wears thin, denying foreign countries their due until they begin to affect the UK scene.
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Format: Paperback
If you told me in 1992 that in 2006 I would be reading a book about "Rave" culture in the local public library I don't think I would have believed you. But..here I am.

AT the time of this writing it has already been at least 8 years since this book was published and I think we can see how the author's takes on the phenomenon has held up.

Good points:

The author has a great understanding of the esthetic strengths of the genre,i.e. what makes these songs and their various presentations work.

He has a good knowledge of the artists, events and venues that helped to shape it (leaning mostly from a UK perspective, while very relevant, isn't the whole story).

He has a great understanding of the techincial aspects of the music and how cheap and malfunctioning gear is sometimes used and how these songs really often take a good degree of skill and effort to produce despite popular public misconceptions to the contrary.

I particulary loved his observation that a tepid corporate pop production like Celine Dion uses much much more expensive state of the art equipment than your techno record.

The author also has a great understanding of the, in my opinion, wonderous and vibrant philosophical concepts that went into this music and scene, and emerged through and because of this music and scene both expected, intended and unexpected and unintended. I would love to go on about them but I will spare Amazon this forum.

Bad Points:

I am sad that this author thinks that ecstacy and many other drugs were so important to this movement. I found this element to make for more boring music and conversation. It was also a cause for tragedy.
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