Read Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk by Dan Sicko Free Online
Book Title: Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk|
The author of the book: Dan Sicko
Edition: Billboard Books
Date of issue: May 1st 1999
ISBN 13: 9780823084289
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 36.82 MB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 3.3
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This is a solid introduction to techno music, its trappings and origins, penned by Dan Sicko at the turn of the century as a sort of round up of techno's history up to that moment.
The undisputed strength of this book lies in its first half, which chronicles the rise of early techno from the crucible of Detroit's early eighties party scene. "Progressive" was the description given at the time to the mix of funk, new wave, disco and synth pop that held sway on the city's dancefloors, records drawn from distant locales including France, Italy, Japan, Germany and the UK (a global outlook before such was commonplace in music). Running in parallel during this period was The Electrifying Mojo, a visionary DJ who played a similar mix of styles (from Kraftwerk to Funkadelic to The B-52's to Prince to Tangerine Dream) during his extended late-night sets broadcast over Detroit's radio waves. This is the context from which Juan Atkins emerged with his early forays into electronic music that would ultimately culminate in his Metroplex label and the first very techno records.
The book remains strong as Sicko continues with the exploits of "The Belleville Three", rounded out by Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. These stories are simply classic, and Sicko's dogged pursuit of surrounding historical context seems to unfold them in three dimensions. Even as he moves across the Atlantic to cover 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald, along with the next generation of Detroit producers, including the likes of Carl Craig, Richie Hawtin and Underground Resistance, he manages to retain focus. Sometimes the writing lacks flash, and might seem even dry to some, but it gets the job done.
I think the book does lose its way a bit when he moves into other genres like jungle and post rock toward the end; also when he starts giving a country by country breakdown of techno producers. The latter might have been more elegantly accomplished if they'd all been threaded together (along with Detroit cats like Suburban Knight and Sean Deason), emphasizing the increasing global nature of the music through juxtaposition (as it would have been during a DJ set) rather than splitting it all up into mini-sections (logical and encyclopedic, but leaves a bad aftertaste of entropy). There was also a reference to a form of proto-techno (called "tekno", apparently) associated with Talla2XLC in the eighties that I was hoping to hear more about, but it only got a passing mention.
This part of the book could have actually been fleshed out quite a bit more to maintain the tone of the first half, maybe telling the stories of artists like Ken Ishii, The Black Dog, Adam Beyer and Surgeon, while also managing to go into the Berlin/Detroit axis in more detail (Basic Channel/3MB) and document some of the global link ups (Orlando Voorn/Blake Baxter, more space dedicated to the Gerald Simpson Inertia record on Retroactive, Neuropolitique). Dobre and Jamez (Jark Prongo/René et Gaston/Klatsch!, etc. etc. etc!) certainly deserved a look in.
And the section where he moves into other genres touched by techno just felt far too cursory, in some cases it was almost as if he was winging it! Just coming at it from the technoid angle, the jungle section (for example) could have touched on not only 4 Hero's/Jacob's Optical Stairway, Photek, T. Power and A Guy Called Gerald in more depth, but also Detroit incursions like Soundmurderer & SK1, Sean Deason's dabbling in breakbeat science and the Dyonis record on Fragile. Beyond that, there wasn't any mention of techstep or ragga jungle, while L. Double and the Kemet Crew would have been more than welcome additions to the narrative. There's certainly a case to be made for these genres' duality.
All of this could quickly fill a book of its own, but it still might have been illuminating to give these tangents more space in the text (or else excise them completely). Impetus for the coverage of jungle could have sprung from the bleep 'n bass chapter, with the likes of Unique 3 and Shut Up And Dance serving as a bridge, rather than its being tucked way as a footnote at the end. Once rave music makes its appearance felt in the book, it would have made sense to look in on it from time to time for the sake of comparison, with the well-recorded animosity some techno producers had toward the style.
At any rate, I'm going off on tangents of my own here (I do generally think a lot of these genres get spliced apart from each other to their detriment), but suffice it to say that the parts of this book that work really work - and you won't really find them covered anywhere else (hence the solid five star rating). Its focus on historical context is its strength. Those left cold by the history would do well to check out Kodwo Eshun's More Brilliant Than The Sun, a more imagagistic mapping of techno and surrounding terrain. These two books complement each other extremely well.
If you're looking to start exploring techno music, Techno Rebels would make an excellent first port of call.
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