Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ENERGY FLASH: A JOURNEY THROUGH RAVE MUSIC AND DANCE CULTURE - info, reviews, publication history (expanded updates, foreign editions, different covers)

 Faber & Faber second expanded / updated edition, 2013


Top 10 Books About Musical Subcultures / The Guardian

"An enthusiastic and often contagious history of dance music, with a focus on pleasure: Reynolds conjures up not only how house and techno (and their many offshoots) evolved, but what it really feels like to love them. This feeling has not always been entirely organic: Reynolds pays close attention to the relationship between dance music and drugs, explaining how often, when the high changes, the beat changes, too" - Kelefa Sanneh, author of Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres, in this round-up of top books about youth music subcultures

Top 5 Music Books / Dallas Observer
"Generation Ecstasy (or Energy Flash as it's called across the pond) is the book on dance music. Almost academically detailed, Generation Ecstasy traces modern house/techno/rave to their origins in disco, Kraftwerk, funk and beyond. Specifically, the book outlines the role MDMA played in the history of these musics, and how experience, not meaning, is the key to understanding how they function: "For the critic [electronic dance music] requires a shift of emphasis, so that you no longer ask what the music 'means' but how it works...Where rock relates an experience (autobiographical of imaginary), rave constructs an experience" -- Jonathan Patrick  

10 Electronic Music Books You Need To Read / FACT
"Reynolds’ Energy Flash is indispensable. It was the first, and remains the only, book to subject dance music to serious, searching critical investigation without once losing sight of the brashness, hedonism and hooligan opportunism that has informed some of the culture’s greatest innovations. Reynolds is warmly authoritative on everything from Detroit techno to Dutch gabba, but it’s the section on hardcore that inspires his most luminous, lyrical and insightful analysis."

Words and Music: Our 60 Favourite Music Books / Pitchfork
"Generation Ecstasy is the abridged American version of Energy Flash, British critic Simon Reynolds' definitive postmortem of 90s rave culture. But it's still 390 pages of close analysis, lively interviews, and epic descriptions of the reflexive textures of music and drugs. Documentary evidence in the form of names, places, and dates accumulates with dizzying force. With robust back matter including deep bibliographies and listening recommendations, it's a comprehensive trial-by-fire for techno novices. Splicing social history and critical theory with a personal conversion narrative, Reynolds tracks the mercurial development of house and techno back and forth across the Atlantic-- through countless archipelagos of subgenres-- with firm precision. He shows how rave music, though fundamentally "for dancing," was also a collective autobiography, reflecting its drug-fueled community's initial rush of optimistic bliss, slide into gloominess and paranoia, and eventual "debauched extremity." Throughout it all, Reynolds remains devoted to the transcendent ideal of the audience as the star, symbiotically one with each other and the music. The book begins by describing his awakening from "rockism," and from the zealously ideological vantage of the convert, he makes some passionate and provocative arguments about the more cerebral strains of electronic music. (IDM is... racist?) This openly biased humanity is part of what makes the book great. Reynolds combines the scholar's informed perspective with the fan's lived experience in a work of history that feels truly alive. You can feel the beat in it."--Brian Howe, Pitchfork.

"Energy Flash by Simon Reynolds isn't ideal bedtime reading. The book is brilliant,but it's so evocative & stimulating I can't fall asleep."--P. Cumming, Glasgow, reader.

"An exceptional book. Reynolds has tracked the unfolding sounds and rituals of 'the (al)chemical generation' so comprehensively that he virtually obviates the need for any further literature on the period"--MOJO
"The enthusiasm, passion and knowledge...seeps out of every page, as Reynolds diligently traces the development of a local scene which became an international industry. But unlike the rest of dance culture analyses, Reynolds sidelines the clubs'n'drugs and concentrates on the music."--THE FACE/ #6 in THE FACE 's TOP 10 BOOKS OF 1998 
"Yields new insights across 424 sharply funny, accessible pages. A great achievement from a world class writer."---iD 
"BOOK OF THE MONTH... The triumph of Reynolds' history of the scene is its ability to cast him as both a die hard convert and a detached critic.....For a culture that relishes its pose of amnesia, Reynolds covers its incandescent memories, and in so doing, he makes its flesh become word."--ARENA
" BOOK OF THE MONTH/* * * * *..... Reynolds is the Greil Marcus of rave... As did Marcus, Reynolds--cool intellect and passionate advocate--manages to expose and explain yet retain a mystical awe for his subject..." ---UNCUT
"BOOK OF THE MONTH.... The first incisive attempt at detailing the post-Ecstasy scene's unending proliferation of sub-genres and new  styles." -- SELECT 
"A classic chronicle of the Nineties rave movement... Striking and well-reported" -- ROLLING STONE
"An important cultural critique, a detailed record that brings us up to date on a dynamic social experiment in progress" -- THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
"Lucid, comprehensive, and smart.... the best available way into what has always been a closed-to-the-grownups world."--VILLAGE VOICE
"An impressively detailed and well-informed chronology of the last decade's transatlantic nightclub soundtrack"---NEWSDAY 
".... One of this country's finest and most intellectually engaging music journalists.... Reynolds has a seemingly inexhaustible reserve of enthusiasm for his subject that is ultimately infectious. He's a writer
who manages to transmit the excitement he feels about the music into his prose--a rare gift, and one that makes him incessantly rewarding to read." -- THE INDEPENDENT
"Crucially, Reynolds concentrates every bit as much on the music itself... as on the culture of people, places and events... a strong enough mix of insider's insight and cool critical analysis to make a very readable book as fascinating and informative as it is enthusiastic and entertaining." --- Q
"Rave music and dance culture, the subjects, by subtitular admission, of this edition of Energy Flash, updated for the 20th anniversary of the dawn of Acid House, bore me absolutely sideways. Whatever exposure I’ve had to the music, invariably accidental, has prompted incredulous reflections on the quantity of mind-altering substances one would need to ingest to find the racket bearable, never mind enjoyable... So, while it may seem somewhat backhanded, the news that I was absorbed by all 500-odd pages of Energy Flash should be read as the highest imaginable praise. Reynolds traces the genre’s development from its origins in Detroit, New York and Chicago, through its climactic budding in the motorway-side paddocks of Britain in the late 80s and early 90s, to its fractious, twitchy, even sinister comedown – a trajectory not dissimilar to that experienced by those who consume ecstasy, the drug that powered it all. Reynolds begins as an observer and finds himself subsumed as a participant, popping the pills, following the crowds, raving amid the throng and, en route, employing his connections as a journalist to meet the prime movers. His digressions on the chemical and cultural effects of ecstasy in particular are lucid and informed, and as such a bracing reminder of how little public discussion of drugs is any of those things.
"As for the music, Reynolds writes as wonderfully about dance as he does about any other genre; indeed, he’s very nearly persuasive.... 
"Castlemorton may have been the last moment at which pop culture felt potentially genuinely transgressive (Part V of the 1995 Criminal Justice & Public Order Act specifically targeted raves). Since then, dance/rave music has become as marginal as every other music which isn’t conveyor-belt pop or heritage rock; Energy Flash is in that respect perfectly titled. It’s also thoughtful, meticulous, fizzing with intellectual vigour, a(nother) monumental accomplishment from the best in his business." -- Andrew Mueller, New Humanist.
"No one curious about pop-music culture, especially as it has developed after the end of rock ’n’ roll's hegemony, should miss Reynolds’s holistic history of electronic music and rave. The writing is sharp and accessible, mapping the varied trajectories of dance music (from disco to techno to drum ’n’ bass and so on). Equally important is Reynolds’s interest in the organization and folkways of rave culture, a significant underground movement that fostered many ideas about social networks and the way people commune—with and without drugs like ecstasy—in the computer age."--Andy Battalgia, Bookforum  


The original Picador edition with bonus CD of rave classics, 1998 (tracklist available as YouTube playlist)

And with the full cover revealed

Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of  Techno and Rave Culture - the Little, Brown hardback of the US edition (abridged - but with an additional chapter on DJing), 1998. 

A gorgeous cover (the vertical text and computer dots are meant to be a pill dissolving in the esophagus), the designer's original idea was to have no title or author name on the front, I had to put my foot down there - "what about point of sale impact?!")

Back cover of Little, Brown edition, with author photograph by Jerry Bauer (RIP)

Routledge US paperback edition, 1999

Picador 2008 expanded /updated edition with hideous cover - and no CD

Soft Skull's US edition of the first expanded / updated edition, published 2012 with far nicer cover - evocative of neurons firing in the synapses

The second updated / expanded edition - and most likely final version -  this time for Faber & Faber and with the best cover yet. 2013.

Foreign Editions

First Italian edition, published 2000, by Arcana Musica, as Generazione Ballo / Sballo (it apparently translates as something like "Generation Let's Go For It HARD"). Updated: someone on Twitter informs me that the title is actually"an untranslatable pun ('ballo'='dance', 'sballo'='drug trip')" 

Second Italian edition on Arcana, 2010

Spanish edition on the Barcelona publisher Contra, 2013. Possibly the best cover of all, especially in the full wraparound. 

Croatian edition, 2009, on Naklada Ljevak. Do like the typography and colour palette although it doesn't scream "rave" really

Forthcoming editions

Russian translation, through the auspices of the publishing program of  the museum V-A-C (which stands for ‘Victoria – the Art of being Contemporary’), at some point in 2022.

Related Publications

Hardcore! - collection of hardcore continuum writings, in French translation - forthcoming on Editions Audimat, probably August of 2022. 

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