/In the Mix Tonight/
1. the ear
2. the word
3. the body
_the ear_
http://www.technologix.org/listen.html (algorythm, tweak and task, TO)http://www.techno.ca/dj/ (little t, algorythm and others)
http://inter-source.net/~junglist/rotation/ (Rotation, Iowa City)
www.m-nus.com (Bill/aka DJ Marathon live debut on Richie's label RA)http://www.neurofunk.com/audio/neurofunk.ram (some tunes)http://www.globalserve.net/~cognition (Octave One interview and music)
http://www.technostate.com (live every tuesday, 8-12am PST)
                                           with Ian Premo, Low-Key, Madcow, Virus
_the word_
(rave is dead)
 (nature of the acoustic)
Simon Reynolds, "Generation Ecstasy" (née "Energy Flash")
note: Reynolds' book was originally published in the UK under the
title "Energy Flash," and came with a CD of classic techno tracks.
For some slick Amerikan marketing reasons, no doubt, the book was
retitled for publication in the US, no CD was included, and it was
stripped of some 40,000 words...including an entire chapter on UK
pirate radio, which was reduced and incorporated into a chapter on
jungle in the North American version. The entire original pirate
radio chapter (which includes material not even published in the
UK book), for those interested, can be read at the above address.
We humans are sense-making creatures. We're always trying, if only in our
own heads, to give structure and order to the swirl of events happening
around us every day. "History" is when we try to record those
sense-making exercises on paper and share them with others. Like all
history books, Generation Ecstasy (GE) is full of factual flaws and
riddled with the author's personal opinions. Like all good history
writers, however, the author is frank and forthright about those opinions,
so you can easily identify them and incorporate them into or reject
them from your own sense-making on the topic of techno.
As an overview of the jam-packed 15 or so odd years existence of techno,
the book is quite adequate. Reynolds covers in an engaging fashion
the early days of Detroit techno, Chicago and New York house, and
(especially) UK rave and subsequent hardcore and jungle, at times weaving
together tales from competing "folk versions" of those
early days. He covers to a lesser extent techno offshoots and subgenres
such as "intelligent" and ambient techno, big beat, trip-hop, garage,
trance, etc. These tales are liberally strewn with interviews with many
of the djs, producers and promoters involved in the creation and
popularization of these styles. And for those who were "there, man,
back in the day," here is where you'll find the inevitable
wrong dates, sequences of events, who-did-what-firsts, etc. But this
portion of the book is also a strength. Hearing gems from Carl Craig
like, "[Kraftwerk] were so stiff, they were funky," or DJ Mark Moore's
reminisces of how he cleared a floor with "Strings of Life" at a London
club in 1988 are worth the price of admission alone, as is listening
to Frankie Bones' tales of early outlaw NYC parties in urban junkyards
and warehouses. The many interviews here are part of what makes this book
special and engaging.
What may make GE drag for many non-UK readers is the detail with which
Reynolds focuses on the politics of ecstasy use in the UK rave and club
scene, and all the minute historical/cultural events in UK techno that
he covers in the late 80s and early 90s. Didn't Matthew Collin already
cover this sufficiently in "Altered State"? Those for whom it's really all
about the music may actually want to skip a few of these chapters. And
unfortunately, as I said earlier, some of the truly interesting UK
material--a description of the pirate radio movement and its
role in the nascent jungle scene, including transcripts of dj banter--
has been reduced considerably in the North American version of the book.
The pirate radio section that remains nevertheless serves to remind one
what "underground" really means and could serve as an inspiration to us all.
The real strength of GE, however, lies in the sections at the end of many
chapters, where Reynolds really gets into the art of "sense-making" and
tries to locate techno in a larger context of music and culture. Some of
this theory falls flat, and at times you get the feeling Reynolds is
trying to pull in every 20th century pop culture analyst and their
sister in order to say something profound about techno. Neither are
Reynolds' attempts to reconcile the whole techno and ecstasy connection
totally sound. I think he forges too strong a conceptual link between
drugs and the music. Maybe this was more true for the UK than other
areas, where, as Reynolds puts it, "ecstasy was a miracle cure for the
English disease of emotional constipation, reserve, inhibition." But to
imply as he does that most successful (in an artistic
and cultural sense) techno is fueled in its creation by a drug mindset,
and that genres not informed by drug links or not connected to scenes
into heavy drug use (such as Detroit techno) are somehow soulless or
inauthentic compared to scenes and musics which are (hardcore and gabba,
for example), is, I think, utterly absurd. As many of us know, it's
perfectly possible to become profoundly linked to this music--in both
its spiritual journey aspects *and* hedonistic dancefloor abandon
aspects--without any use of drugs whatsoever.
That said, the main recurring framework that Reynolds uses to try to
understand where techno's going bears repeating here. Part of Reynolds'
agenda in GE is an ongoing attempt to identify what's "cutting edge" or
forward-looking in techno, versus what's backward-looking or retro--a
worthy endeavor in a music and culture virtually founded on the twin
concepts of futurism and existing "underground." His position is
basically this: techno (as well as hip-hop, musique concrete and all
other 20th century postmodern cut-and-paste forms of music) began as and
has remained for the most part a supremely electronic music. So a valid
identifier of whether a particular track or artist is moving the music
ahead becomes, "how is the artist exploiting that electronic essence in a
new and original way?" (my words) Note that this is not the kind of sterile
purism that Reynolds (wrongly, I think) accuses Detroit and
Detroit-influenced artists of falling into, where producers supposedly consider synthesizers are somehow more "pure" than samplers; drum machines are somehow seen more inherently "techno" than breakbeats. If someone does think that way--and I think that very few producers actually do--they're only deluding themselves, of course. Electronic music is sounds appropriated, created anew, mangled at times beyond recognition and taken out of their original context to make something never before heard. That's the legacy of 20th century art, and techno in particular. Whether that's done with a sampled, deconstructed James Brown drum loop or a 909 is really just
splitting hairs.
However, what this does mean--and Reynolds comes back to this point again
and again, throughout the book--is that when techno producers try to "move
forward" by incorporating more and more traditional musical elements into
their tracks, they're not moving forward. Simply put, Reynolds holds that
pursuing traditional song structures, linear "live" vocal tracks, and
obvious emulations of traditional instruments in techno is retro.
This doesn't refer to the manipulation and alteration of traditional
sounds, of course; that's what postmodern cut-and-paste (what Reynolds
calls "sampladelia") is all about. This refers more to attempts to
"enhance" or "legitimize" techno by moving it in directions and
building it using structures taken by the traditional musical
forms--classical, jazz, rock--that preceded it. Note: this doesn't
make incorporating non-electronic elements or traditional song structure
into techno bad...that's getting into the area of taste. But it does
mean that "progressive" house is anything but, and r & b
flavored song-oriented deep house is looking backward, while "tracky"
hard house or tech-house is moving forward (unless of course it's simply
aping the sounds and formats of 10 years ago, but that's another issue
Following this line of analysis, I would then say that Jeff Mills'
one-bar dj tools and Cari Lekebusch's floor banging rearrangement of
samples of junkyard scraps integrated with digital synths are certainly
taking the music somewhere new; Reynolds doesn't agree, and several
places in the book makes clear his distaste for "tracky" music,
condemning it as sterile and self-limiting in a overly zealous,
purist way. He does hold, however, that "intelligent dance music's
70s prog-rock ambitions and "smoothcore," string-laden jungle are also
forays into the past, not the future, and I would agree with him there.
I don't agree with his enthusiasm for the "freshness" of other recent
techno hybrids, like big beat, which in my application of Reynolds'
typology is a backward-looking attempt to make techno safe (read:
commercially viable) for rock audiences. And remember,
that's not to say that any of these genres of dance music are inferior
to others...it's just to say that they're moving backward, not forward.
And whether you agree with Reynolds' categories (I do, but not always
with his application of them), it's a stimulating way of looking at
things and certainly food for thought.
But is it even important to value "progress" or "innovation" in techno?
Given the fascination with futurism that still pervades virtually all
varieties of techno and obviously figures heavily in the thinking of its
producers and fans, clearly visible everywhere from the outer space
imagery of funky breaks rave flyers to Underground Resistance
"homeworld" literature to Goa trance album covers, I'd say yes.
We're as fascinated with the future and with using technology to get
there as ever, just as much as May and Atkins were when they started
all this. So it *does* matter what's moving forward, what's not; what's
on the cutting edge, what's underground, and what's conservative,
commercial product. It also matters, of course, what simply makes us
want to *dance* and what doesn't...but thinking about one doesn't
mean we can't also think about the other. Techno as a distinct musical
form is still very much in its infancy, and Reynolds' book at least
makes an important early contribution to creating a framework for
making sense of it all, for understanding where it's been and where
it's going.
Frank Smith
Do not reprint without permission.
_SPIN features Detroit techno in October issue_
"complete history of detroit techno in a very comprehensive manner"
The gods of Detroit techno went to Europe to become stars and become rich.
By the time they checked back in, the homies were listing to booty (so
tacky) and the only people who cared about their music were...white...and
suburban. By Mike Rubin.
_The Body_
>THE GREY PLANET FESTIVAL 1. - 4. October 98 Zurich City - Switzerland
GREY PLANET-Electronic Festival (over 120 years of electronic music)
In consideration of the existence of more than 120 years of electronic
music, the designer atelier cafemelange and the coffeebuzz organizes from
thursday the 1st, `till sunday the 4th of october 1998, the first
international festival of electronic music with multimedia arts and
computer game generation.
With more of 30 artists of the old and new electronic music system from
different cities like: Detroit, Rome, Sheffield, London, Manchester,
Cologne, Frankfurt, Moscow, Munich, Zurich,...
International well know music-, multimedia-, and grafic design artists will
be present, to demonstrate through expositions, multimedia arts,
panels/symposium, workshops and concerts important elements and contexts of the electronic music, also with the help of an exhibition of electronic>music history via internet, records shops and computer and video games corner.
P.O. BOX 578
saturday, september 26th,
mekanix music presents:
instruction provided by:
algorithm (toronto - 3 hour seminar on 3 tables)
tyler stadius (bassix - covering more underground material)
len & danuel (mekanix - decks + keys live PA)
with local instructors: dubgnostic, hopper, chrisbee, geo
art by: stevee, stevec, heather,wolfc
$14 presale at mekanix (750 nelson) and bassix
never before used 2 room downtown location
info day of: 604-816-6244
(vancouver bc)