Simply and unpretentiously, the rapid evolution of the electronic dance genres which have directed the path of modern music over the last 30 years unfolds through interviews with those who’ve shaped it, as they appeared in Keyboard and Remix magazines.
Their story starts in 1981with Kraftwerk, then at the peak of their robotic newness, with subsequent names including Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Frankie Knuckles, Juan Atkins, Front 242, The Orb, Orbital, Underworld, Aphex Twin, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Richie Hawtin, Amon Tobin, Crystal Method and Autechre. There are also fascinating background pieces, such as ethnomusicologist Denise Delphond’s penetrating account of EDM’s cultural significance in Detroit, and 1994’s Rise Of The Machines chapter on the development of the all-important drum machine.
The book reinforces a common theory that electronic producers are never happier than when explaining how they arrived at certain sounds, the editors backing this up with boffin-directed features on sampling and technical milestones. It’s more than just the usual history, though: the final chapters include Steve ‘Flying Lotus’ Ellison (John and Alice Coltrane’s nephew) singing the praises of his laptop and Ableton Live pioneer Robert Henke talking in 2011 about the next phase of the music he helped to shape.