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am 21. April 2000
First off, the title is a bit misleading - this book is about the history of rave culture (primarily in England), and has very little to do with psychedelic/ecstasy culture and its philosophy.
The historical aspect of the book is a good overview, but extremely biased towards the hardcore and related genres of techno. In particular I was offended by the author's suggestion that 'Intelligent Dance Music' was virtually racist because it avoided the use of black hip hop beats while those beats were getting a lot of play in clubs and at raves. The author presents himself as an outsider at the beginning of the book, but he was clearly part of and influenced by the hardcore scene. That isn't bad in of itself, but in this author's case it means that ever other niche is compared to the original hardcore scene (as well as its closely related genres) in a negative light; the author insinuates that the other genres simply don't get the point. Frankly, I think the author is the one who is unable to get any of the other genres.
All of this aside, I give this book four starts because it is a truly excellent resource for techno music fans, as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about the different genres of techno. Each section of the book presents (biased) descriptions of leading artists in each genre, and there is an excellent list in the appendix of tens of genres of technos with several album recommendations for each genre. This makes it an excellent reference for anyone interested in learning more about the different genres of techno.
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am 1. April 2000
One would expect "Generation Ecstasy" to chronicle how Ecstasy and similar drugs affected the lives of a generation of people. It does not. Instead, the author provides a very detailed history of rave events and of rave and techno music. The author discusses entrepreneurs, musicians, and DJs, but does not discuss the people attending weekend rave events.
Mr. Reynolds is English, and much of his discussion is centered in England. The author describes how rave events evolved from small club events to major outdoor events to clandestine events hidden to avoid closure by local authorities. Mr. Reynolds discusses rave and techno music and DJ mixing techniques. He provides an extensive bibliography and discography. Mr. Reynolds discusses drug (over)use at rave events. He discusses the growth and death of the belief that drugs like Ecstasy would promote world peace. Mr. Reynolds' discussions are interesting, but they do not describe Ecstasy's effect on peoples' daily lives.
One seeking a history of techno and rave culture will enjoy this book. One seeking to understand the lives and goals of "Generation Ecstasy" will find it disappointing.
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am 16. Juni 2000
I agree with the leading review; the notion that reynolds is comparing everything to his beloved hardcore is very tight here. Reading this book, it becomes quite plausible that reynolds thoroughly enjoyed a few years in there, with a certain style of music, and holds it dear to his heart, comparing/shunning the rest. I admittedly was interested throughout the entire book, mostly because this is one of few books (around here) of its kind. A more obvious example of reynolds letting his hardcore bias in is his thrashing of FSOL; how they use too many sounds (I consider an extremely ridiculous idea), and how simplicity is best....and of course, hardcore is so simple that it is beautiful blah blah blah. He is clearly quite knowledgeable but needs to learn (discover) that each of the other genres he discusses have entire histories and cultures of their own, and that hardcore is, although a vital part of the uk rave scene, not the epicentre of electronic music. Thus the title including 'techno' culture was a bit lacking in the entire spectrum of techno (although the coverage of detroit was tight and necessary).
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am 1. August 1999
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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am 17. September 1998
Simon Reynolds is a raver. He readily admits as such, right from the outset of the book. But unlike the biased, sensationalist 20/20 would have you believe of everyone in the scene, he's not simply a drugged-out zombie, living life for the next fix. Mr. Reynolds shares the viewpoint of many ravers today; albeit a perspective which rarely sees the light of day, because its not news-worthy enough. It's all about the music. This book is an exhausting history of electronic, going back to its very roots, all the way to the current teen-sensations The Prodigy, et. al. The book also delves into the darker side of the scene, however; the drugs. It's interesting to note that Reynolds carefully walks the border, never really making explicit his beliefs on drug use. (He's used them, he knows they're bad...but what's his real opinion?) Maybe you can figure it out. This is a definite recommendation if you're even remotely interested in the rave scene, its history, or its current incarnation. Pick it up, but don't expect to get to sleep. My serotonin level got boosted just from reading it :)
ke!th
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am 20. Mai 1999
Simon Reynolds writes as an enthusiast, not a critic. This is, nevertheless, the most intelligent, vivid, comprehensive book I have ever read about the ecstacy culture. I'm a fan of Reynolds' writing - I've actually read all of his works - all highly recommended. What is so special about this book is that it covers the music, the drug and the evolution of the culture with incredible energy and intimacy. I devoured the book. He is also a great writer - he writes sentences that are dense with meaning and really insightful turns of phrase - and every word demands to be read. I have recommended this book to several people and they have all enjoyed it thoroughly. Rather than saying something polite I'll just say "Big Up, geezer. Massive respect! Top stuff!!!!"
If you're interested in rave culture, if the music makes you jump - don't miss this one. It's seriously brilliant!!
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am 24. Juni 1999
I'd have to agree with the above reviewer about Reynolds' annoying pseudo-intellectual speak. This guy obviously just read Baudrillard's _Simulacra and Simulacram_ one night while wasted and thinks that any throwing around polysyllabic nonsense qualifies one as an intellectual. (Really, we're dealing with a somewhat anti-intellectual topic here.)
Nevertheless, this is all from the perspective of someone older who should know better. If I was 19 again, I would probably love this book, and the attention to detail is very impressive. The accompanying CD is a very well-thought anthology of the scene. Who wouldn't like to go back to the days when this was all fresh, before techno music was on Sprite commercials with every bonehead feeling the need to bring glo-sticks to the club?
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am 17. Mai 2000
I read this book in hopes of finding some interesting journalistic insite into the history of Rave culture. Oh well. While some of the musical history is interesting, if innacuarate at times, the take on 'Generation Ecstasy' (the title should have warned me) is just off. First off, it's a small sub culture, not some generational happening. Second, it never addresses the whole 'Peace, Love, Unity, Respect' aspect of the scene. Third, it missed out on how important the global aspect of this scene is/was. Fourth, it never quite gets across the music itself, the variations, styles, inventiveness. The way in which it discusses the drug activity associated with raves is probably the strongest element of the book, but overall, I was terribly dissapointed.
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am 4. Januar 1999
Reynolds provides an highly-information, excruciatingly detailed view of the history of rave culture and techno music. It's a little indulgent at points with its vivid descriptions of track after track of gabba, jungle and hardcore hits but Reynolds addresses this with a somewhat interesting argument on his website. It hardly dives into any extensive or mind-numbing post-modern lit crit drivel as another reviewer has commented. The book would probably have doubled in size if this had been inserted. He does however intricately monitor the relationship between the music, the political and racial and national climates in which it developed and the drugs that its fans were running on while they listened.
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am 27. Oktober 1998
Filled with annoying postmodern pseudo-english, Generation Ecstasy seems to be written by someone who desperately wants to be thought of as intelligent. It is a common failing among young professional critics. The formula is simple - merely add a sprinkling of words which refer to anything which has nothing to do with the subject at hand, then throw in some meaningless but intellectual-sounding phrases like, "translates into a whole new dialectic," and voila! Instant tripe! Unless you enjoy watching writers contemplate the contemplation of their navel, forget buying this book. Thinkers should avoid it, but people who think that they are thinkers will probably love it.
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