Saturday, December 31, 2011

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #11

"This is a parable for every individual among us. He must organize the chaos in himself by recalling in himself his own real needs…. He begins then to grasp that culture can still be something other than a decoration of life"

-- Friedrich Nietzche contra the ETSY-ification of underground music, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, 1873

Friday, December 30, 2011

further to my "is rock finally dead then?" query here

jon caramanica states the obvious, but states it starkly and sharply, and it's a point well worth making:

mainstream rock (he means rock released on US major labels, regardless of whether it's from the US or not, played on mainstream radio) is

"a musical universe in crisis like no other, full of old bands spinning their wheels, praying for one more summer out under big-tour sheds, and their young reinforcements, not much more than a field of dullards who are the artistic equivalent of grocery store generic brands. 2011 may well be remembered as the most numbing year for mainstream rock music in history.The genre didn’t produce a single great album, and the best of the middling walked blindly in footprints laid out years, even decades, earlier. Plenty of juggernauts — U2 and Bruce Springsteen, among others — took the year off, but the genre’s failings are creative, not commercial. At this point rock is becoming a graveyard of aesthetic innovation and creativity, a lie perpetrated by major labels, radio conglomerates and touring concerns, all of whom need — or feel they need — the continued sustenance of this style of music. The fringes remain interesting, and regenerate constantly, but the center has been left to rot."

the only thing i disagree with is the word "regenerate" in the otherwise correct nod to the continued interesting-ness of the fringes... i don't think that word, with its biologistic connotations of renewal and growth and evolution ... of generation and generative-ness... i don't think it really applies to the way that the Zones of Alteration operate... Hyperstasis, being a fundamentally digital/inorganic rather than analogue/organic syndrome, works through replication, recycling and recirculation, techniques of recreativity such as pastiche, appropriation, citation -- in other words, forms of asexual reproduction. (Or perhaps that should be asocial production - art practice that is incapaable, through its mode of operation and dissemination, of letting "the social" leak into it)

Repro ( according to this dude )as opposed to retro in the strict sense of the term, maybe, but still something that very much falls under the sceptical and unforgiving gaze of Retromania.

(Hyperstasis is, after all, nothing if not a churlish concept, looking a gift horse in the mouth, looking past the immediate bounty to the long-term dearth).
listomania meets archive fever
retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #10

"Eclectic is another word for shit"

--V/VM, date unknown

Thursday, December 29, 2011

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #9

"The really big news of the Eighties is the stampede to regurgitate mildly camouflaged musical styles of previous decades, in ever shrinking cycles of nostalgia. (It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice--there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork , and the other is nostalgia. When you compute the length of time between The Event and The Nostalgia for the Event, the span seems to be about a year less in each cycle. Eventually within the next quarter of a century, the nostalgia cycles will be so close together that people will not be able to take a step without being nostalgic for the one they just took. At that point, everything stops. Death by Nostalgia."

--Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book, 1990
retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #8

"Constantly losing more of this feeling of surprise and dislike, becoming excessively astonished no longer, or finally allowing oneself to enjoy everything—people really call that the historical sense, historical education"

--Friedrich Nietzche contra "generalism", On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, 1873
i had been thinking recently about the breakdown of the generation gap, of the patricidal impulse as a generator of the new within music / culture....

what to you do, if you're a young person growing into music and thinking about making it, if your parents are cool? if they have really good, hip, broadminded and edgy taste in music? it would be stupid to reject all that great old music, and hard not to be influenced by being exposed to it from an early age (example: Maria Minerva's dad, who is a very well-known Estonian music critic and also TV personality, played her things like Nico's The Marble Index at a tender age... and many of my younger blogworld friends, i find out their parents would play stuff like the Cure or Japan)

the only actual generational rebellion in that circumstance is to have no interest in music, or only minimal investment in it (something to listen to in the background, decor for life, not a grand project or zone for identity formation),,, to use something other activity or culture-zone as the place in which identity formation goes on

but talking of this problem of having cool parents who turn you onto great music... a dad or mum that still takes an interest in current music, who might want to go to gigs with you or take you to a festival in the summer, the family sharing a tent...

reading a Quietus piece about hot new band S.C.U.M. this line leaped out at me

"Between shows, the Quietus managed to net keyboard player and sound specialist Sam Kilcoyne, son of Add N to X's Barry 7"

Add N To X was long ago enough so that the children are now old enough to form bands?!?!?

(Or was Barry a late-bandstarter, early breeder?)

at any rate, wow

weirdly S.C.U.M. are signed to Add N To X's label Mute

young Kilcoyne says "When we were making Again Into Eyes I asked dad if he wanted to produce it, but he wanted me to do it by myself. He was there for a lot of it, and gave his advice when he thought something wasn't working, but essentially he wanted me to do this on my own. I think if you take away Tom's vocals and listen to the synths, we really do sound similar to my dad."

unfortunately it appears they also sound quite a bit like My Bloody Valentine and Suede and Echo & the Bunnymen... seemingly mediated by (and this horrified me a little) by The Horrors

just the thought that bands are coming through influenced by the Horrors (Kilcoyne: "I'd never listened to My Bloody Valentine until after the Horrors' second record Primary Colours came out")

dearie me

here's a song by them

here's another one

and another

that one's a bit better, dank and thuggish, bit like Bunnymen circa Porcupine meets Love and Rockets meets Dr & the Mix (Jesus & Mary Chain's heroes/models) with a bit of early Sisters of Mercy thrown in

the more buried the vocals, the better

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


You can see a similar alternation of surge-phases of innovation with periods of consolidation and eclecticism in other genres, like jazz and classical music. In 20th Century composition, the astringent and emotionally traumatic innovations of atonality and twelve-tone developed by Schoenberg were followed by a phase known as neo-classicism, which involved adopting and adapting the harmonic clarity of Mozart and Bach from almost two centuries earlier. According to Schoenberg-fanboy Adorno, Stravinsky--the most famous exponent of neo-classicism-- was guilty of "regressive eclecticism…. parasitism on the old " (the words here are Perry Anderson's gloss on Adorno's famously stern stance). Like a classical music equivalent to the Jesus & Mary Chain, Stravinsky even went in for direct or slightly distorted quotations from illustrious ancestors like Schubert, Pergolesi, and Tchaikosvky. After the second world war, though, there was a renewed push towards full-tilt innovation, both in orchestral music with the dominance of serialism as a compositional method and in electronic music with the adoption of new technological possibilities like tape editing and synthesizers.

What is different about the alternating rhythms of surge and slow-down within music's high culture is that they are relatively immune from fashion logic. Well, there certainly trends within the higher arts and as the great theorist of fashion Edward Sapir argued "there is nothing to prevent a thought, a type of morality or an art form from being the psychological equivalent of a costuming of the ego." But classical music is less tied to market forces than pop, and so less vulnerable to the economic pressures that create cycles of novelty and obsolescence.
retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #7

"In the world of glut + bloat, the withheld work of art becomes the only meaningful object"

--Don DeLlillo, spiral notebook aphorism, Box 38, Folder 1, date unknown

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #6

"New mutations and combinations emerge and are destroyed; seen from the outside, the movement possesses a nervous vitality… intense, almost feverish… It resembles, it seems to me, a snakeskin full of ants. The snake itself is long since dead, eaten out from within, deprived of its poison; but the skin moves, filled with busy life"

--Ingmar Bergman,anticipating "hyperstasis" and "the zones of alteration", 1965

Monday, December 26, 2011

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #5

"As the present can't be transcended, or the future predicted, the past is the only place available to anticipate the 'not yet'. Retro doesn't repeat the past, it redeems it. And, in so doing, it provides a fleeting revelation of tomorrow's possibilities, of things to come…"

--Steven Brown (channeling Walter Benjamin) in Marketing: The Retro Revolution, 2001

Sunday, December 25, 2011

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #4

"The people who are hung up on the Beatles' and the Sixties' dream missed the whole point when the Beatles' and the Sixties' dream became the point. Carrying the Beatles' or the Sixties' dream around all your life is like carrying the Second World War and Glenn Miller around. That's not to say you can't enjoy Glenn Miller or the Beatles, but to live in that dream is the twilight zone. It's not living now. It's an illusion"

--John Lennon, Playboy interview January 1981

Friday, December 23, 2011

review by john calvert for Quietus finds proto-retromaniacal /end-of-history themes in the work of Gorillaz

"their debut is overlooked as a precursor to indie's mad rush to 'super-hybridity' throughout the past decade... The Japanese element – manifested in the animation, the cutesy instrumentation, the melodic e-numbers, Hatori's girly j-pop vocals, the Toyko-neon textures, and even just a general redolence - lent the futuristic sheen of hyperreality that Japanese culture had signified since the 80s. And because this was art-pop and therefore packed with subtext, the aesthetic also yielded a batch of secondary associations: thoughts of Japanese trash culture, Roxy-style distance, pop songs about pop, and even the trauma of Hiroshima. There is a whole tranche of Japanese art dealing with the notion that the tragedy had stripped the country of its history, leaving only the chintzy detritus of pop culture.... Together, these implied ideas created an atmosphere artist/sociologist Gerhard Richter called 'afterness' - a kind of mass cultural despondency that Albarn hit on with the Good, The Bad And The Queen; an album dank with the melancholic sentiment that everything had been done before ('modern life is rubbish' as Blur had declared years before). This wearied state-of mind that The Good, The Bad And The Queen embodied chimed with Gorillaz' aesthetic, for there’s surely a sadness implicit in the recycling of Western arcana that imbues so much of Japanese pop culture. The same air of lamentation and loss emanating from Albarn's other supergroup cut through Gorillaz tracks like 'Feel Good Inc' and 'On Melancholy Hill'."
michaelangelo matos in the guardian investigating the phenomenon of hipster house aka chillrave

they do seem awfully sincere and respectful

perhaps overly so

the question remaining for me though is:

if you wanted to dance, what's wrong with the existing, ongoing dance culture (in which house has undergone a resurgence across the board)

why is it based around dance / house as it was 20 to 25 years ago?

and so again it seems to fit that retro / vintage chic mentality of getting the period sounds right, the period styling (the record covers, the fonts, the flyers, the allusions) just right

there is this parallel thing going on with ex-noise/drone types getting into early techno and EBM /Cold Wave/ ate 80s dance-floor oriented industrial -- people like Prurient and Pete Swanson

in that case i suspect it's wanting somewhere to "go", musically -- noise-abstraction being a diminishing returns zone and also absolutely blanketed, choked with output
Nineties and Newness

Kulkarni continues his New Nineties series at Quietus with a paean to Pram, perpetrators (sez Neil) of the Best Album of that decade

in the interview part, Pram's Matt Eaton says this:

"The whole ethic of the band, though it was unwritten and rarely spoken, was to create new music, so if a piece had a similarity/reminded someone of another work it was generally rejected. The emphasis was on new... It was all about new sounds and new ways of writing a song.... Even now, making a new sound is still our first impulse, and that includes not repeating previous Pram recordings...To repeat ourselves or someone else would be boring and not really worth the effort.... My working life is ten times harder than it needs to be because I hate repeating what’s gone before.“

There's people - quite a lot of people, I've discovered this year - who'll tell you that's an old-fashioned attitude, an outmoded approach.
retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #3

"Quotation is no longer an operative value. Quotation only submits one's work to the authority of History and its "masters." A DJ doesn't "quote," per se. He or she wanders into History and uses previous works according to his or her own needs. This method might be similar to past ones, but the set of values that organizes it has changed: Nobody cares anymore about signatures as authority markers, we now live in a cultural space of increasingly fluid circulations of signs"

-- Nicolas Bourriaud, interviewed in ArtForum, April, 2001
interesting quote from a Quietus interview with Skream, suggestive of how hyperstasis aka the archival overload of influences, affects the individual artist's ability to "move forward"

Q: So how do you go about finding a new sound then?

Skream: The thing is, I don’t know. Music is mongrel now. It’s rare to find straight techno or... Especially in this UK bass sort of thing, everything has merged. I love that though. But then, do you go back and do a straight one-influence track? Is that going back on yourself? My sets now consist of everything, everything influenced with everything. So how I’m going to find the new sound I’ll never know. Maybe it’s just finding a new sound for me, ‘cos trying to create a new sound at the minute is mental.

this tune is pants innit

Thursday, December 22, 2011

History Is Made At Night, the excellent blog about the past present and future of dancing and nightlife, has a post on a 1920s-style "wild party" staged in 1950s New York -- perhaps similar in spirit and sound to trad jazz revival raves happening at the same time in the U.K. but with a more self-conscious retro / time travel intent to it
retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #2

"Antiquarian history itself degenerates in that moment when it no longer inspires and fills with enthusiasm the fresh life of the present. Then reverence withers away…. Then we get a glimpse of the wretched drama of a blind mania for collecting, a restless compiling together of everything that ever existed. The man envelops himself in a mouldy smell….. Often he sinks so deep that he is finally satisfied with that nourishment and takes pleasure in gobbling up for himself the dust of biographical rubbish"

--Friedrich Nietzche, On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, 1873

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time - #1

"Why would you want to catalogue everything that exists? The idea of conservation, as the word suggests, has a conservative side to it. And there does come a point where that can step over to conservatism which is very anti the future, anti technology, anti this and anti that. This happens all because the past was supposed to be better. That comes out of desperately trying to preserve phenomenon, that in their nature, slip away, they have no permanence. In a way it’s a desperate quest. I’m not anti-conservation; I’m quite the opposite. I am just wary of some of the attitudes it can generate, which can be very oppressive, and very restrictive. If you are constantly thinking, this has to be documented, this mustn’t disappear, your not actually living in the present, you’re thinking about what you can keep from the past, to save in the future. You’re not actually where you really are"--David Toop (Leftlion interview, 2007)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

this isn't out officially until next year but, in that peculiar publishing-world jumping-the-gun way, can already be found in some UK book stores such as Waterstones: the B-format edition of Retromania, more economically-priced and portable than the original heavy-paper-stock quasi-hardback edition (now sold out). It comes with a new nifty bas-relief cover and is compact enough to actually fit into a Christmas stocking without unduly distending it

Monday, December 19, 2011

this paradox-riddled utterance caught my eye when reading a post at the science fiction webzine i09 about the Most Futuristic Music of 2011

"Sometimes the future can be found in the past. When you watch Blade Runner, it still looks like the future, even though it was made in 1982. Similarly, Arizona thrash band Vektor model their sound (and their dystopian/space-opera lyrics) on Canadian sci-fi thrashers Voivod, who did their best work in the late '80s, and yet they still have an undeniable spacy, forward-looking feel to their work."

the quote seemed indicative of our problems in imagining, let alone alone creating, Future Music when "the future" has become a set of idées fixes that we can't seem to get past

i've not checked out the other examples of Futuristic Music in the i09 piece but i fear i'll find further evidence of "arrested futurism"

for now hear's some deja entendu from Vektor,verily Voivod clones right down to the V-word-with-six-letters


is the name of this pretty package RetroActivity containing the Best of Sweet Exorcist (legendary early UK techno outfit from Sheffield) on two discs

almost the All of Sweet Exorcist, actually... well, there was this later album Spirit Guide To Low Tech on Touch(when Kirk & Parrot had moved into post-Artificial Intelligence zones and accordingly sounds closer to R.H.K's work as Sandoz, also for Touch) but RetroActivity scoops up the bleep/clonk era material for Warp

here's a fave Sweet Exorcist tune, minimalism getting maximal - the title track of the C.C. EP and C.C.C.D.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Public Information Materials-Mix by Public Information
this summer we went to see two exhibitions in Los Angeles – one was in nearby Pasadena (Clayton Brothers: Inside Out) and the other was in downtown at the MOCA and called Art in the Streets, a mammoth retrospective of graffiti and street art going back to the very beginnings...

Clayton Brothers do life-scale shacks and diorama-type things, lots of stuff based on old illustrative styles, newspaper fonts, etc – readymades either literally or in inspiration, but the overall agglomeration of it tinged towards the surreal-creepy-macabre-twisted... a sort of dayglo American-Gothic

At Art in the Streets, a lot of the more recent work involved very large pieces, real-size reproduction of actual real-world stuff – like a bodega, with cans of vegetables etc – or a shabby taxi hire office in a shady part of town, those band or advertising or prostitute type stickers stuck over every surface – one artist (Neckface, we used to see his graff in our old neighbourhood in the East village) did a thing that was literally street art -- the recreation of a dark, dank alley in a scary, grotty part of NYC, complete with a sleeping bum.

Anyway this got me thinking... about readymades and collage, the tradition that starts with Duchamp... with Schwitters with the merzbau and the merzhaus... then proceeds through Lichenstein, Warhol, Richard Hamilton.... Lari Pitman, whose work draws on decorative and kitschy-retro graphics and fonts... Jeff Koons.... and then into the post-graffiti/hip hop era with people the Alleged Art crew (heavily present at this exhibition)... some of whom were into stuff like the tags left by hobos on the side of railcars, or they were into tattoos... the late Margaret Kilgannen of Alleged used a lot of commercial imagery... hand-painted shop front signage, imagery from advertisements in old magazines... in the Alleged crew doc Beautiful Losers she says something about how "all this stuff becomes interesting to me when it's no longer selling anything to me"-- in other words, once it's divorced from commerce in the immediate here-and-now, it becomes capable of being aestheticized, which is a great description of how vintage chic works

but what struck me about all this in connection with Art in the Streets and Clayton Brothers is that underpinning the whole century-long thing was one idea – a REALLY BIG idea - which is treating the objects of manufactured modernity as if they were nature, as beautiful as a tree or landscape... (c.f. James Ferraro's description of Far Side Virtual as "the still life of now" - the audio and video landscape of our digitized, augmented daily surroundings)

but also it’s a move of taking the non-art, the infra-art, and just moving it across a line... commerce because culture, the mass produced aura-less product becomes the one-off, aura-full handcrafted object ready for the art market

And as the Ferraro comparison suggests, it's the same move being made by the hauntologists and the hypnagogics (a lot of post-Ferraro music is Pop Art meets psychedelia), with some psychedelics thrown in), you take what is deemed beneath or outside Proper Serious Rock-as-Art, so that would be ancient cheese pop or mainstream AOR or library music (in the case of hauntology) or with Ferraro now it's ringtones and computer start-up jingles and so forth i.e. today's equiv to library/Muzak... and ythen ou say well actually if you tilt your head this way slightly , it’s sublime – or even (upping the ante) in some cases it’s just better and more weird than self-conscious Arty art-rock.

And then the art work for a lot of those hypnagogic cassettes is chopped-up magazine images (eyes, lips etc) like a more grotesque and cack-handed version of what the British Pop Artists did... like the popcult unconscious throwing up all over the page (and that's no diss, i love all that artwork)

the low > high context-shift

Nicholas Katranis calls this artistic move "looking at what is right in front of you"

for most people now means that what they can find on the internet, what’s trawl-able on YouTube etc etc

e.g. oneohtrix scavenging for alchemy-susceptible materials on YouTube, the stuff that’s beneath consideration...

what I'm a-wonderin' is whether the BIG IDEA that i mentioned, whether that is so very very BIG -so fundamental and capacious in scope and potential - that it can just carry on and on and on... or is it a 20th Century idea that has just lingered a bit into the next century and hangs on while we all try to think of somewhere new to go?

post-script: what do you know, Aaron Rose, the guy who co-curated Art in the Streets and was owner and director of Alleged Art (and also directed the Beautiful Losers doc) has co-written a book called Collage Culture: Examining the 21st Century's Identity Crisis that looks to be a rather Retromaniac-al polemic ("why has the 21st century become an era of collage, in which creative works are made by combining elements from the former century?", "THE PAST MUST NO LONGER SERVE AS OUR MASTER") which sorta suggests that even as he was pulling together the exhibition he might have been having similar anxieties as i did looking at it

you can check it out here:

here's what he says in an interview with Oyster:

"Everything in this world is built on references. I don’t think that’s really such a problem, that’s part of the creative process. Although where the amount of original input is below 5%, that’s when I feel like there’s maybe a problem... I think the contemporary art world is horrible [as an offender]! And in music. Music, I think, is really bad. Music videos, especially — horrible — are like, basically just taking things frame for frame."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

i'm not the biggest fan of Northern Soul as music but through doing Retromania I got much more sympathetic towards it as a cultural project

if all Northern Soul was a sublime as these two songs, though, I'd be in my singlet and high-waisted pants doing backflips and twirls in a trice

one of the greatest songs about dancefloor-as-utopia ever

the mod manifesto

RIP Dobie Gray
xeno-retro, pt 136

"But we’d like to position Paradise of Bachelors as more than a reissue label—introspective, rather than retrospective, and opposed to the fetishized nostalgia peddled by lesser labels... We’re interested in releasing music, historical or futuristic or otherwise, with contemporary relevance and resonance—the music’s rarity matters far less than strong curatorial and aesthetic coherence, compelling narratives, and our ability to articulate untold histories through engagement with the artists, through interviews, oral histories, photography, and friendships. For us, that means looking backwards, to heavy American Indian psych, to Vietnam vet laments, to Carolina soul and gospel, to coastal honky-conch country, to Communist disco (some of our intended future subjects), but also to the contemporary iterations in and out of the infinitely mutable, mercurial traditions of American vernacular music. It’s the dialogue between those modes, and through those years and artifacts, that we find interesting."

Communist Disco! Native American psychedelia!

that's from an excellent essay for Shuffle by Brendan Greaves, one of the people behind the label Paradise of Bachelors

like also the sign-off

"Don’t sweat those ghosts, because they aren’t going anywhere, and without them, there’s nothing new anyway. These are the days of the dead"

an echo there of Prince Rama's "ghost modernism" perhaps

Monday, December 5, 2011

pierrot period

mesmerised by the repeats of My So-Called Life on Sundance

who knew the early-mid 90s had a period look

perhaps it's just that one show, that one set of production values

but the overlit, high contrast film makes faces and flesh look phosphorescent

in the night scenes, like those pierrot mime faces looming out of the dark

Brian and Angela especially look literally moony

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

where dead media meets sono-archaeology

via this NPR blog essay

(which also directs you to this Smithsonian Folkways time-capsule of office sounds you'd have heard in a 1964 workplace
introducing a sister-concept to retromania -- xenomania

i.e. the new exoticism / loving the alien, a.k.a net-enabled music tourism

it's at (part of MTV World)

there's stuff on the early-adopter beat-geek syndrome of chasing the latest global ghetto grooves (kudoro, coupe-decale, etc) but also a lot on retro-exotica: all the reissue labels and blogs that are digging in the crates globally, excavating the pasts of other countries

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

retromania-related interviews and piece-appearances-by-me

interview at Blurt online

NZ Herald piece on retromania in fashion

Q/A with Rock Town Hall

Wired.TV (Italia) with video interview in which I'm confronted by Oblique Strategies cards and then have to connect them to Retromania

plus only slightly about retro (glimpse the obsession dawning towards the end) - a resurrected interview for David Ensminger's blog i did around Rip It Up that he's now dug up for Pop Matters

via Mateus Potumati: Retro is such a huge phenomenon in Brazil it gets a cover story in the Sunday supplement of a big mainstream newspaper in Sao Paulo: the Agora, which I'm told is roughly equivalent to the New York Post, and is mainly read by inhabitants of the outskirts of that vast city, i.e. the lower middle class to poor

here are some images (apologies for some of them being sideways) from the Revista da Hora (Sunday color mag supplement of Agora)

apparently the retroism isn't based around Brazilian's own popular culture of the Fifties and Sixties, but North American

Mateus explains that "retro has been in the mainstream here for a good while – especially if you consider it in the broader sense, ie TV reruns, fashion and stuff.
This sort of “full impersonation of an era” kinda thing also used to be somewhat of a fad in the 90’s and over the last decade (hipsterdom!). What is truly fascinating for me is for it to be on a cover of an openly blue-collar/working class tabloid that’s famous for its violence-related headlines."

He reckons the Fifties Americana mania is connected to the (color me flabbergasted)
"the psychobilly scene, which is really strong in Brazil, especially in the South.
Curitiba even holds a parallel psychobilly Carnaval that happens as an alternative to the original samba one (Brazilian rockers generally hate Carnaval btw). This scene has always been there for as long as I remember, and it’s all about nostalgia"

Not just Ukrabilly, but Brazillabilly!?!

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Baudelaire imagined the fully contemporary artist of his own day—someone drifting through the city, bombarded with stimuli—as 'a kaleidoscope endowed with consciousness'. Today, the internet being the new city, a teeming cosmopolis of myriad precincts and neighbourhoods, you would have to update the metaphor and argue for the fully contemporary artist as a search engine endowed with consciousness."
-- Jary W. Keithmann, The Glissades of DataScape Mastery (2003)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

as discussed in Retromania

"The Martinellis Bring Home A Desire System"

derived from this infomercial

what i wanna know is, is it Martinellis or Martinettis?!? Cos I put one of them in Retromania (forget which) and i hope it was the right one!

the thing Dan's put up at Soundcloud is "a stereo redux" of "a 4-channel sound installation commissioned by Anne Hilde Neset for the SONIC TANK exhibition". So much shorter than the full-length work discussed in Retromania, which was about 30 minutes long and was titled the same as the original infomercial as i recall
(re)creativity part 1089

Friday, November 11, 2011

bit like with Drive, chagrined that this lady hit the scene too late to be incorporated into Retromania

exquisite-looking cobblers, isn't it, Drive?

very very pretty. and completely silly

bit like Super 8, except that Super 8 is exquisite-looking cobblers, minus the exquisiteness, plus horrid CGI-excess, plus grating "dead media" referencing

Friday, November 4, 2011

"retrofy your hi-fi system"

"AirCassette is a cassette player application for iPhone and iPod Touch. Choose your favourite cassette from a variety of nostalgic cassette models. The playing song information is written on the cassette label and you can also share your cassette view with friends on Facebook or via email."

more info

since when have iPhone or iPod Touch or i-Anything been construable as "a hi-fi system" ?!

(cheers to rob cotter for tip off)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jason Schwartzman, in GQ Style: "The best book I read recently is Retromania by Simon Reynolds. It's fantastic. Reading Simon Reynolds is like getting in a warm bath."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

next big thing watch: Ukrabilly, or Ukrainian psychobilly

the godfathers

some more Retromania interviews off the back of the Italy and West Coast tours

interview with Sentire Ascoltare

(Italian translation first, then English text follows)

Q and A for Rock Town Hall

netradio interview with John Huston for Silver Machine

Friday, October 7, 2011

jesus what a concatenation of cliches

and i'm not even talking about the music, just the talking-head soundbites

did no one learn anything from all those remix-CDs piled up in the basement of Music and Video Exchange?

from all those resold and unsellable U.N.K.L.E. albums?

did we go through the Nineties for nothing?

more info on Re:Generation here
some more overseas coverage of Retromania

interview for Vogue Italia (in English)

review by Lynden Barber in The Australian

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

snippets of the Retromania event in Rome

Incontro con Simon Reynolds/1 from videodrome-XL on Vimeo.

Incontro con Simon Reynolds/2 from videodrome-XL on Vimeo.

Incontro con Simon Reynolds/3 from videodrome-XL on Vimeo.

Incontro con Simon Reynolds/4 from videodrome-XL on Vimeo.

Incontro con Simon Reynolds/5 from videodrome-XL on Vimeo.

and a short interview with GQ Italia
further Retromania press, radio, interviews, etc

extensive chat with The Daily Swarm's Matt Diehl

interview with in Vancouver

interview with KCRW's Michael Silverblatt for his show Bookworm

transcript of radio interview (audio version downloadable) with The Sound of Young America's Jesse Thorn

interview with To the Best of Our Knowledge's Steve Paulson

promising new blogger Tendezroman did this post

and then we had a chat which he's posted here

(he still hasn't read the book!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

quick reminder about this week's West Coast Retromania tour:

PORTLAND - Monday 26/9 - 7:30 PM - POWELL'S BOOKS - 1005 W. Burnside - dialogue with Douglas Wolk

SEATTLE - Tuesday 27/9 7:00 PM - THE GROTTO - 2322 Second Ave - dialogue with Luke Burbank

BERKELEY - Wednesday 28/9 - 7:30 PM - PEGASUS BOOKS - 2349 Shattuck Ave - talk/Q&A

SAN FRANCISCO - Thursday 29/9 - 7:30 PM - BOOKSMITH - 1644 Haight St - dialogue with Scott Hewicker

LOS ANGELES - Sunday 2/10 - 12:15 pm - WEST HOLLYWOOD BOOKFAIR - 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard - panel with Kent Crowley and Nic Adler

Sunday, September 11, 2011


1/ ITALY TOUR, mid-September

PISTOIA / 18th September

Arcana Puccini festival (September 11th – 18th)
organised by Nevrosi

Sunday 18th September - 10.30 am
Hall of Saint Dominic Friary, Pistoia (piazza San Domenico, 1)
Nevrosi and John Vignola meet Simon Reynolds
A “question time” is held for music critics and practitioners, who must submit questions or topics to be be admitted, seats being limited. Send questons to

Sunday 18th September - 3.00 pm
Hall of Saint Dominic Friary, Pistoia (piazza San Domenico, 1)
Panel with Simon Reynolds, Zakhar Prilepin, Jaroslaw Mikolajevski, Paolo Cognetti, John Vignola. Moderator: Goffredo Fofi.
A talk about weaves, affinities and differences between western and eastern culture production processes.

ROME / Monday 19th SEPTEMBER

6.00 – 7.30 "Make It New" vs. "Positivise The Remake", a lecture at John Cabot University (JCU Aula Magna Regina). Via Della Lungara, 233 Roma. Bring picture ID.

9.30pm PRESENTATION of RETROMANIA at Circolo degli Artisti - Via Casilina Vecchia 42
with Alberto Piccinini, Federico Guglielmi (Mucchio Selvaggio), Emiliano Colasanti ( Blow Up), Claudia Durastanti (writer).

followed by DJ sets by Simon Reynolds, Lele Sacchi

MILAN / Tuesday 20th SEPTEMBER

7.00 pm - PRESENTATION of RETROMANIA at FNAC Bookshop - Via della Palla 2
with Carlo Antonelli

10.30pm to 1.00 AM - DJ sets by Simon Reynolds, Lele Sacchi, at ATOMIC - Via Panfilo Castaldi

2/ WEST COAST USA TOUR, Late September

PORTLAND - Monday, September 26

1005 W. BurnsidePortland, OR 97209

Dialogue with Douglas Wolk, followed by Q&A and book signing.

SEATTLE / Tuesday, September 27

7:00 PM to 8:30 PM PT THE GROTTO (downstairs at the Rendezvous restaurant)
2322 Second Ave. Seattle, WA 98121

Dialogue with Luke Burbank followed by Q & A and book signing

BERKELEY / Wednesday, September 28

2349 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704

talk/Q&A/book signing

SAN FRANCISCO / Thursday, September 29

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM BOOKSMITH
1644 Haight St. San Francisco, CA 94117

Dialogue with Scott Hewicker, followed by Q&A and book signing.

LOS ANGELES / Sunday, October 2

8300 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069-6216

Panel event/signing. Also on the panel are Kent Crowley (author of 'Surf Beat,') and moderator Nic Adler.

precise location details TK

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Italian version of Retromania published by ISBN Edizioni later this month.

Details of my Italy tour (Friday 16th to Wednesday 21st) to follow shortly.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

As the writer Touré noted (via his tweetstream), last Sunday’s Video Music Awards was a veritable retro-fiesta.
It was almost as though MTV was purposefully presenting a smorgasbord of evidence to substantiate the claims of Retromania.
Exhibit 1:
Accompanied by simple ‘n’ spare piano, wearing a vintage frock, her hand fluttering over her chest to signify the bursting pressure of all that heart ‘n’ soul, Adele’s “Someone Like You” – vowel sounds stretched out like lovesick moo-ing, a parody of Etta-circa-1965 passion.

Exhibit 2:
The tribute to the late Amy Winehouse... Russell Brand and Tony Bennett both separately invoke Billy Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald as her ancestors. Proclaming Winehouse’s influence on contemporary pop, Brand singles out Adele in the audience as someone who’d gladly admit her debts to Amy. But how can someone so influenced and indebted herself actually be described as an influence, be deemed an artistic creditor? Footage of Bennett and Winehouse duetting just a few months before her death offers yet more grotesque caricature of bygone blackness in the grand Brit tradition of Joe Cocker.
The Winehouse tribute is completed by Bruno Mars’s version of “Valerie” , the singer, band, and backing vocalists all done up in Motown Revue- style suits. My wife says it sounded like a Wham! circa “I’m Your Man” B-side; I reckon more like a Jo-Boxers B-Side.

Exhibit 3:
Lady Gaga’s drag king alter-ego “Jo Calderone”—greased back hair, cigarette tucked behind the ear, lip-curled sneer. A routine that commentators have variously sourced in Annie Lennox’s turn as a sideburned 1950s hood when Eurythmics performed “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This” at the 1984 Grammys, and “Johnny” in The Outsiders as played by Ralph Macchio. Personally I was reminded somewhat of Anybodys, the dykey tomboy Jets hanger-on in West Side Story who with painful-to-watch desperation wants to join the gang. But whatever it was meant to refer back to, a retro cliché all the way.

Exhibit 4:
Beyonce’s “Love On Top” could be one of the non-successful follow-up singles to disco-funk smash “The Best of My Love” by The Emotions, who were Sister Sledge to Chic’s Earth Wind and Fire. There is nothing about it that couldn’t have been recorded in 1979.

Exhibit 5:
Piece de resistance of the retrospectacle: Chris Brown’s Nineties tribute, a medley that ran through Wu Tang’s “Protect Ya Neck” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” At the switch between tunes, a robot voice helpfully pinpointed the year: “1993”, “1991”. Then the femmebot voice declared “the present: the future”. Cueing a Chris Brown song from this year’s LP that sounds exactly like mid-Nineties trance. The music was overshadowed by the theatrics: oddly graceless and stompy dance routines, plus Brown upping the ante on Pink’s circus wire renditions of a few VMAs ago by doing aerial backflips hither and thither across the stage. Yet more proof that Las Vegas—in the Cirque Du Soleil/Siegfried & Roy sense--is today’s world capital of pop.

There were plenty of NON-retro things about this year’s VMA to bemuse-amuse the viewer: Pitbull’s red pants and white jacket combo; Justin Bieber making a point of thanking not just God but Jesus too; Tyler the Creator’s non-eloquence; Lil Wayne’s closing farrago of senseless gestures, climaxing with that most exhausted of stunts-- the smashing of an electric guitar.
But my enduring memory is of Kanye West, so excited by the spectacle he couldn’t stay in his front row seat but kept leaping up (rudely blocking the sightlines of the celebs behind). He seemed particularly mind-blown by the aerobatic exertions of Chris Brown. Alternating between jigging about and being frozen stock still, he appeared to be very much performing his own amazement, loudly signaling to everybody in the hall and out there in viewerland that “man, this is some next level shit” and “boy are we blessed to be living through such times as these”.
Kanye’s making-a-spectacle-of-his-own-spectacting flashed me back to something he said several years ago at a different American music awards ceremony:

“I wake up in the morning just thinking about which stereotypes I want to break … I see artists like Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Chris Martin all in the same room, and we're going to push this music to the point where it was like in the sixties, in the seventies, where you talk about Led Zeppelin and Hendrix and the Beatles. We will be the new Beatles, the new Hendrix."

No comment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"The Ghost of Teen Spirit" - piece by me on grunge nostalgia for Slate


"Rejecting the Remix" - Op-Ed by Trevor Butterworth at The Daily addressing Retromania and related issues

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

alongside Tom Payne's review (see below) for The New York Times Book Review there is also an excerpt from Retromania

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

round up of Retromania US coverage so far:

nice review by Eric Been in The Boston Globe

nice review by Tom Payne in the New York Times Book Review

supersharp review by Nicholas Carr in The New Republic

smart review by Michael Azerrad for Wall Street Journal

smart review by Nitsuh Abebe in New York magazine

smart review by Eric Harvey for The Atlantic

sharp review by Timothy Gabriele for Pop Matters

sharp review by Neil Baldwin
for The Faster Times

sharp review by Noel Murray for Columbia Journalism Review

sharp(ish)review by Vadim Rizov in A.V. Club / The Onion

smart piece by Ann Powers at NPR connecting Retromania and the ritual pleasures of seeing beloved bands (in this case, The Feelies) year after year after year

smart piece by Amanda Petrusich on Nineties revivalism and retromania for

really good dialogue with Steven Hyden for the A.V. Club/Onion

interview with John Williams at The Second Pass

interview with Mark Richardson to launch Paper Trail, Pitchfork's new series of chats with music authors

interview with Mark Spitz for Vanity Fair

interview with Thomas Rogers for Salon

interview with Sophie Duvernoy for LA Weekly

interview with Scott Timberg at his blog

radio conversation with John Schaefer for his WYNC show Soundcheck

conversation with Erik Davis for his Progressive Radio Network show "Expanding Mind"

my piece on "searching for the sound of now" and pop in the age of atemporality The New York Times

an adapted extract from Retromania as featured in the Los Angeles Times


and two late breaking non-American interviews

a three-part chat with Luke Clancy of RTE (Ireland’s counterpart to Radio 4 or NPR) - the instalments are dated July 12th/ 13th/ 14th and can be found here if you scroll down a bit

dialogue between me and Matthew "Woebot" Ingram at FACT magazine

I'm pleased to announce that Retromania is being picked up for German translation by Ventil Verlag. Publication sometime in 2012.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

a round up selection from the Retromania UK promo blitz:

my Guardian G2 cover story essay "The Shock of the Old"
(the 250-plus comments are well worth perusing: in agreement and disagreement alike they are unusually well argued and informative)

previous week's Times extract (a remix of Retromania's introduction) is trapped behind the Murdoch pay wall but the Irish Times piece can be found here

Herald interview is not online for some reason but can be found at at writer Neil Cooper's blog

interview with Dan Fox for Frieze magazine

The Quietus interview with me by Colin McKean

The Oxonian Review interview with me by Alex Niven

also at Oxonian Review, a review by Adam Harper, one of the few that conveys something of the book's full scope, with further comment at his blog Rouge's Foam. [Tendentious, moi? ;)]

another sharp review, from Sukhdev Sandhu for The Observer

and another, by Patrick Sawer, in the Sunday Telegraph

some web content generated for the online arm of BBC Radio 4's Today show (on which I appeared with grime fan Annie Nightingale)

interview with me on Radcliffe & Maconie's BBC 6 radio show

interview with me on Richard King's All Things Reconsidered show on Domino Radio

and look out for the interview with Jarvis Cocker on his BBC 6 show

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


June 2 / 6.45 pm / ICA / London

"Over and Over and Over and Over": a panel discussion at the Institute of Contemporary Arts about retro in pop culture and the arts, chaired by Rob Young and featuring Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Caroline Evans,and SR. More info about tickets, location and the panelists here

June 5 / 4 pm / Stoke Newington Literary Festival / London

"Juke Box Fury": panel discussion about music journalism hosted by Richard Boon and featuring Paul Morley, Charles Shaar Murray, Lucy O'Brien, and SR - panelists play and riff about the song that made them want to be a music journalist in the first place. More info about tickets, location and the panelists here

June 6/ 7 pm / The Faber Social / London

Debut night of new Faber-hosted event series at the Heavenly Social, 5 Little Portland Street, London W1W 7JD. Conversation between David Peace and Richard T. Kelly, plus readings from Peace and Kelly. Conversation about Retromania between SR and Bob Stanley. Musical interludes provided by SR. Admission on the door £5. More information and ticket reservations here

June 7 / 7 pm/ Waterstones Deansgate / Manchester

Discussion about Retromania between John Robb and SR at Waterstones, 91 Deansgate, M3.


update info about UK events at
and via twitter:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

information and hype about

RETROMANIA: Pop Culture's Addiction To Its Own Past
By Simon Reynolds

(published June 2 UK / July 24 US)

We live in a pop era gone loco for retro and crazy for commemoration. The first decade of the 21st Century saw the runaway growth of an industry dedicated to the exploitation of rock's past, encompassing reunion tours, deluxe expanded reissues, rock documentaries and biopics, rock museums, remakes of iconic albums, and even reenactments by artists of famous events in music history. An endless Eighties revival, which reached the mainstream through artists like Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas and La Roux, lasted the entirety of the decade, and has yet to subside even as hipsters are talking up the Nineties as the next big nostalgia wave. Paralleling the West's oil addiction, pop's economy grows ever more dependent on its own history.

RETROMANIA is the first book to examine the retro delirium that has taken over pop culture. But while it is focused on music, the book's span encompasses everything from fashion to the contemporary art scene to the cult British comedy show The Mighty Boosh. Blending investigative reporting and cultural critique, RETROMANIA traces the roots of retro in rock's own history and assesses its implications for the future of music. Is it a dearth of innovation that inspires the chronic nostalgia for the lost golden ages of rock's youth? Or have we become victims of our ever-expanding capacity to store, share and instantly access cultural data, a historically unprecedented phenomenon symbolized by the rise of the iPod and YouTube?

Earlier epochs had their own obsessions with what had gone before, but never before has there been a society so obsessed with the cultural artifacts of its own immediate past. Does this retromania sound the death knell for any originality and distinctiveness of our own era? Are we heading toward a sort of cultural-ecological catastrophe, where pop's archival resources have been exhausted?

Early reviews and advance praise for Retromania

Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past.
Reynolds, Simon (Author)
Jul 2011. 368 p. Faber and Faber, paperback, $16.00. (9780865479944). 781.

"The best book I read recently is Retromania by Simon Reynolds. It's fantastic. Reading Simon Reynolds is like getting in a warm bath"--Jason Schwartzman, GQ Style

“Simon Reynolds's Retromania is a must read. One of the best books about music I've ever encountered”— Touré

"Amazing"--Bruce Sterling

"Astute" -- Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Giddyingly insightful"--Trevor Butterworth, The Daily

"An important and often compelling work... Reynolds makes a convincing case that today’s retromania is different in degree and in kind from anything we’ve experienced before"--Nicholas Carr, The New Republic

"A provocative and learned book... The reader is in astute hands, and while the route isn't always the most direct one, it is filled with interesting diversions, including ruminations on the nature of boredom in the digital age and on the collector's impulse"--Michael Azerrad, Wall Street Journal

"Retromania is remarkably researched, enthusiastically written, and -- although often a victim of its own enthusiasms -- truly important."-- Adam Hanft, Barnes and Noble Review

"Simon Reynolds’s infatuations with forward-thinking music and movements have been the driving force of his 25-year writing career, sparking such works as his definitive chronicle of rave culture, Generation Ecstasy, and the authoritative post-punk history Rip It Up and Start Again. Likewise, in his underappreciated collection Bring the Noise, this futurist zeal allows Reynolds to weave together a host of independent writings that span more than two decades to present an overarching case that the cross-pollination between white and black music has “served as the motor of change in pop history.’’... Retromania not only makes a persuasive case that retro-ism is impeding pop culture, but it also illustrates why Reynolds is arguably the most provocative pop music writer of his generation."--Eric Been, The Boston Globe

"What makes this book so wise is its author's awareness of his own complicity in nostalgia... Like the best of Reynolds's writing, it's elegant and urgent.. Whether or not he likes the music, his love of describing it is palpable. The search is still on for music Reynolds can describe without allusion to other music. But here, as throughout, the question is as fruitful for us as it is frustrating for him"--Tom Payne, The New York Times Book Review

"A terrifically agile and edifying spin through the logic of modern pop culture: Punk-rock reunion tours, reissue labels, and record collectors rub up against critical theory, sixties fashion, and Japanese music culture, with idea-packed detours into the modern attention span, the “franticity” of Internet use, and the rise of “curating” pop culture as a full-fledged career option. The stuff that really fascinates isn’t those artists collaging bits and pieces of older styles; it’s the huge pockets of the music world that stake out a piece of lost ground and simply camp out there, like preservation societies or Civil War reenactors. Reynolds understands the allure of that, too, and his sections on the people involved—the mp3 bloggers who post old rarities, the bands who track down vintage gear, or the scenes, like Northern Soul, that spend decades obsessing over styles that lasted only a few years in the first place—are fundamentally an insider’s take"--Nitsuh Abebe, New York magazine

"I recently read Simon Reynolds’ Retromania and it was so spot-on as far as our current attitude to music and its history. For my money he’s one of the most intelligent music writers in the last two decades"--DJ Food

"Retromania is designed to be a polemic, the kind of book you’d throw against the wall if you weren’t so immersed in it"--Timothy Gabriele, Pop Matters

"Reynolds is a keen writer, with the mind of a critic and the heart of an enthusiast, which makes Retromania easy to engage; reading it is like bantering with a smart friend, not like bristling at a lecture. In the same introduction where he states his intentions, Reynolds admits that he enjoys many aspects of retro (though, he adds, “I still feel deep down that it is lame and shameful”). If anything, Reynolds often waxes as rhapsodic about the artifacts of pop-gone-by as do the people who actually dedicate their lives to them.... As he says, this book is meant as “an investigation,” not a closing argument. And it’s a credit to his skill and wit that Retromania is such fun to grapple with."--Noel Murray, Columbia Journalism Review

*-STARRED REVIEW "In this unusual history, music critic Reynolds argues that the last decade was obsessed with what he calls retro-rock, a fascination with the sounds of living memory... A provocative and original inquiry into the past and future of popular music"--Booklist

"Reynolds.. uses critical theory to explore the retro industry and our collective obsession with the immediate past... Covering fashion, music, television, museums, and mashups, Reynolds analyzes our culture's need to acknowledge the past in an attempt to create something new and original. In a paradoxical twist, our accelerated digital world has become locked in hyperstasis. Popular culture, as a corollary, always feels familiar and alluring. Verdict This superbly written critique of popular culture reveals our deep-seated anxieties about social instability and cultural change..."--Library Journal

"Absorbing, brightly written... Reynolds fears that our obsession with the recent past has become a structural part of rock music... Important—and alarming—reading for pop-music aficionados."--Kirkus Reviews

"Reynolds visits retro impulses in fashion, architecture, movies, and painting, but focuses on what he claims are the formaldehyde-soaked horrors of retro rock music: tours by geriatric boomer bands; wistful VH1 retrospectives; the musty curatorial obsessions of rock museums and hipster connoisseurs; new bands whose music merely cuts-and-pastes hoary influences; the all-preserving Internet, where adolescents graze in every musical era without developing their own generation-specific sound... But Reynolds's mix of canny erudition, critical theory, stylish prose, and vibrant evocations of bands both famous and unheard-of, nails the appeal of retro almost despite himself; as he deplores musical nostalgia, he reminds us why it mesmerizes us"--Publishers Weekly

"Nostalgia has become the password for entry into contemporary music. With ease and elegance, Simon Reynolds describes this complex condition in Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past (Faber & Faber) and delivers an insightful polemic against it. Retromania serves as a forceful, definitive status report on today's music.... Reynolds' innovative analysis is rife with impatience and sadness. Retromania calls for action, but is not so much a manifesto as an explanation for why music is recycling and not reinventing"--Martin Jack Rosenblum, Milwaukee Express

"Frighteningly erudite, breathtakingly imaginative and a nice man into the bargain, Simon Reynolds, as he nears his 50th birthday, has no realistic rivals in the field of music criticism (other than, perhaps, Alex Ross of the New Yorker). It’s got to the stage where the publication of the English rock hack’s latest book every couple of years is more eagerly anticipated than the new albums by half the bands he writes about... Reading the book... as ever with Reynolds it was impossible not to be impressed by the sheer breadth of reference and ingenuity of argument, let alone the effortless elegance of the writing."--Jonathan O'Brien, Sunday Business Post (Dublin)

"A conversation-starter, and a valuable consideration of the wave of retro-fetishes and musical curatorship saturating the current landscape"--A.V. Club

"Entertaining"--Robert Chritsgau, the Barnes & Noble Review

"His past titles, including Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture and Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978–1984, definitively document the musical spheres he inhabited, as both fan and critic. His most recent book is his most compelling yet, raising just as many questions as he answers along the way."--J.C. Gabel, Time Out Chicago.

"... the most stimulating contemporary popular music critic in the English language for the past 25 years. Reynolds exhibits the usual fan's obsessiveness with wide-ranging interests and relentless curiosity, but the key to his consistent readability is a keenly analytical mind that recognises the importance of sometimes coolly stepping back from the fashion and the passion to make sense of what's driving it all... [Retromania is] exhaustively researched, sometimes maddening and immensely stimulating... A highly rewarding read"--Lynden Barber, The Australian.

"Geekily erudite and sweepingly referential, focusing on music but in a broad cultural context, where Baudrillard rubs shoulders with the Beach Boys, Kim Wilde with Oscar Wilde. His accounts of arcane styles and subcultures such as “hypnagogic pop” and Japanese Shibuya-kei are best appreciated with YouTube, a portal that may, as Reynolds contends, paralyze us through distraction, but also helps make sense of Retromania. His writing is punchy and poetic, as in his depiction of the “ghost dance” of Deadheads, “an endangered, out-of-time people willing a lost world back into existence.” Reynolds makes so many perceptive points, supported with such strong historical evidence, his book can be exhilarating if you agree with it, fun to spar with if you don’t"--Mike Doherty, Macleans (Canada)

"Compendious and slightly nauseating (in a good way) account of pop-cultural backward-looking... But now pop has eaten itself. The facts—and no one has presented them as clearly as Simon Reynolds—are before us; the fix is in. What next?"--James Parker, The Atlantic.

"That rare thing, a brainy joyride... Along with his encyclopedic music brain, Reynolds brings an accessible but intellectual style that draws on a broad range of cultural artifacts and authorities—a random sampling of index entries accurately reflects the array: Adam Ant, Harold Bloom, Can, Phil Collins, John Coltrane, Sigmund Freud, Gossip Girl, Cary Grant, The Jesus and Mary Chain… It also pointed me to about a thousand blogs, videos, records, and books to investigate"--John Williams, The Second Pass

"Through surveying both the current landscape and examining how retro has functioned in music at different points in history, and putting particular focus on how the archive of the Internet has changed the accessibility of culture artifacts, Reynolds makes a compelling case that the very nature of musical creativity and the listening experience are changing in fundamental ways"--Mark Richardson, Pitchfork

"In his terrific new book, Retromania, music writer Simon Reynolds looks at how this nostalgia obsession is playing itself out everywhere from fashion to performance art to electronic music -- and comes away with a worrying prognosis. If we continue looking backward, he argues, we'll never have transformative decades, like the 1960s, or bold movements like rock 'n' roll, again. If all we watch and listen to are things that we've seen and heard before, and revive trends that have already existed, culture becomes an inescapable feedback loop"--Thomas Rogers,

"Interesting, timely book this one… Key to Reynolds's book is his ability to crystallise an artist, scene or movement with effortless, exciting prose. He opens the doors to times you may want to investigate further, weaving in references, characters, places, events and quotes that will educate, stimulate and have you endlessly hunting around on Google and YouTube. Retromania is fascinating, addictive, superbly written and thoroughly investigated. Part history, part theory and wholly questioning, it’s the perfect read for today – and possibly all of tomorrow’s musical futures."--Jonny Trunk, Record Collector

"Reynolds's mapping of today's pop environment is often witty; his account of the way in which so many artists position themselves as curators is spot-on, as is his description of internet users – himself included – gorging on illegal downloads. His prose, casually neologistic and making deft use of sci-fi tropes, is bracingly sharp. As a work of contemporary historiography, a thick description of the transformations in our relationship to time – as well as to place – Retromania deserves to be very widely read"--Sukhdev Sandhu, The Observer

"Retromania is a terrific book. Reynolds brings profound knowledge and oceanic depth and width to his argument, tracing his theme from trad jazz through the '70s rock and roll boom to the hipsterism of today, via the hyper-connectedness and infinite jukebox of the web. Unlike many of the pop writers who inspired him as a youth, he deploys his high intelligence and vast range of reference lucidly, to argue and illuminate, not dazzle or alienate. He can mention Baudrillard and Pokemon in the same sentence and still make sense "--Steve Yates, The Word magazine.

"If pop is suffering from a fossil fuel crisis due to a perceived lack of fresh resources, the sense that there are no new sounds under the sun, then its global warming is retro sounds and hauntological memory-trips fugging the blogosphere--and this book is its An Inconvenient Truth... A hugely interesting and useful debate starter"--NME

"Already one of the greatest pop commentators of our time... A sequel of sorts to the stupidly good Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84, this meaty 458-page tome manages to weave such disparate musical elements as Norma Waterstone, Gerry Rafferty, Johnnie Kidd, the Sex Pistols, Lady Gaga, The Cramps, Massive Attack, Mo Wax, The Grateful Dead, Toots & the Maytals and, er, Mick Hucknall, into a a decade-straddling treatise on why we're all so hung-up on the rock'n'roll past. Unlike the man he's often compared to, Greil Marcus, Reynolds doesn't feel the need to batter you over the head with his intellect, opting instead for a conversational style that's not afraid to go off on seriously wild tangents."--Stuart Clark, Hot Press

"If anyone can make sense of pop music's steady mutation from what George Melly noted as its 'worship of the present', to its current status as a living heritage industry where past, present and what the author calls a nostalgia for a lost future coexist, then you'd have to trust Reynolds. he's a top-table critic whose keen ear is matched by a sharp eye for cultural context.... If there's an underlying melancholia to Retromania's state-of-the market opening address (Now), it's shattered by a brilliant dissection of the role played by the retro-urge in pop's first half-century (Then)... An erudite study of pop's eternal lock groove..."-- Mark Paytress, Mojo.

"Simon Reynolds legacy as one of the great music writers of the last thirty is assured, but with Retromania he becomes one of the great social commentators. Drawing together the worlds of music, fashion and technology, he argues that pop culture has become addicted to its own past, and that innovation and futurism are being snuffed out. Retromania is a vital rebellion against our ongoing cultural crisis delivered in the form of a fun and engaging assessment of today’s music world"--Strictly Randl webzine

“If pop music is all about right now, what happens when the past refuses to go quietly? The ever-brilliant Simon Reynolds investigates the cult of retro, the temptations of nostalgia, and the future of music culture--all with a detective’s cold eye and a fan’s hot heart"--Rob Sheffield, author of Love Is a Mix Tape and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran

“One of my favorite music writers wrestles one of my favorite musical paradoxes: what's up with the fetish for the Old in pop's Land of the Eternal New? Unpacking how YouTube makes history more lateral than linear, pondering the remarkable endurance of England's Northern Soul scene, or wondering if record collecting is indeed a distinctly masculine sickness, Reynolds' deep inquiries lead to a bigger question: does obsessive engagement with the past make it harder to invent the future?”--Will Hermes, author of Love Goes To Buildings On Fire

“The crowning achievement of Retromania is that it in no way contributes to the cultural malaise it critiques. You may struggle with the suspicion that you’ve seen it all before and heard it all before—but you’ve never read anything that approaches the idea of retro from as many entertaining and incisive angles. The present may be collapsing into the past, but this is a book for the ages”—Greg Milner, author of Perfecting Sound Forever

"The book is long awaited, and not just because Reynolds's great studies of post-punk (Rip It Up and Start Again) and dance culture (Energy Flash) consolidated his position as the ultimate philosopher-fanboy. There has also not been a comprehensive study of our collective desire for the past until now, and how endemic it is in both mainstream and alternative culture.... His explorations are, as always, breathless and readable, a mix of enthusiastic self-analysis and academic theory... He writes vividly on the dynamics of sharing - how the internet has made multiple ownership of obscure records and films possible, instead of allowing collectors to hold on to them like talismans.... A work that is vibrant and vital."
--Jude Rogers, New Statesman & Society.

"This is a magical mystery tour through the retroscape, and Reynolds finds plenty that’s interesting and, dare I say it, new among the second-hand detritus."--Kevin Courtney, Irish Times

"Looking back over the last 25 years you'd be hard pressed to name a music journalist more adept at tracking and defining the zeitgeist"--The Guardian

"A meticulous and fascinating survey of the evolution of pop's infrastructure of mis-remembering, from trad-jazz to rave nostalgia via reggae reissue labels, northern soul, and, surprisingly, Patti Smith's Horses"--The Independent on Sunday

"Musing on such disparate topics as hipster culture, tribute bands, the mash up, hauntology and MP3s, this is an essential read for anyone who realises that it is history, not piracy, that poses the greatest threat to the progress of popular music."--John Doran, The Stool Pigeon

"Simon Reynolds‘ compulsively readable new book Retromania has caused almost as much consternation amongst glib hipsterati – determined, without investing the requisite effort and intensity of purpose, to lay a claim for their generation – as it has for clueless, bloated, swinging-daddy-o rock critics clinging pathetically to their syndicated investitures.
But guess what? Reynolds is right– as the future, when it eventually arrives, will prove. Just as Lester Bangs bleated through the seventies, suffering a personal famine till punk stirred and broke, so it is the critic’s occasionally unenviable task to speak the unspeakable and admit the inadmissible."--FACT magazine

"A great exploration of this decade’s cultural ennui – namely, ‘where did all the new go’? Reynolds is a music writer but in his journey from the trad-jazz revival of the 50s to today’s hyper-connected hipster roaming the MP3 blogs in search of un-mined seams of obscurity, he draws art, architecture and fashion into his critique of our cultural obsession with the recent past, while also weaving his vast array of reference points to make sophisticated theoretical cases without ever being academic or impenetrable. You might not always agree with his assertion that this decade has been little more than a retread and recombination of bygone attitudes, genres and styles, but this passionate journey in search of our lost future is both enlightening and entertaining"-- Dazed and Confused

"Simon Reynolds is my favourite music writer by a mile, and Retromania is his best yet. It balances a breathtaking amount of research, some real insight, a lot of humour and just enough abstract theorising (which has been a problem with Reynolds’ work in the past for a lot of people). It looks at retro culture and wonders if culture as a whole, and music in particular, is at a dead end of some sort. Tackling everything from garage punk to slavish Japanese fans to garage rock to digital culture, it’s easily the best book I’ve read this year and I totally recommend it."--Speakers Push Air webzine.

UK edition published NOW by Faber & Faber
US edition published NOW by Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Italian edition published September 2011 by ISBN Edizioni
French edition published 2012 by Le Mot and Le Reste
Spanish-language edition published 2012 by Caja Negro
German language edition published 2012 BY Ventil Verlag

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