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The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music [Review]

"Keyboard Presents the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music," edited by Peter Kirn, is a truly awesome book. While it's certainly of interest to djs, electronic musicians and dance music fans, it's also a book worth checking out if you're into music and programming, avant garde music and outside the box thinking.

Drawing primarily on interviews from Keyboard and Remix magazines with musicians from Kraftwerk to house music originators to Daft Punk to Crystal Method, 30+ years of creative history is chronicled.

Keyboard Presents the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music was published by Backbeat Books late last year. Interviews and articles from Keyboard and Remix (now Electronic Musician) cover a period from 1982 to 2011 with references to both the past and the future.

Peter Kirn, blogger at Create Digital Music among a wide range of other accomplishments, edited the book and the articles seem exceptionally well chosen to cover the history of electronic dance music without requiring much technical knowledge. There is quite a bit of technical discussion but in a form that allows even a reader such as myself, who hasn't worked with any of this equipment or software, to follow the concepts being shared.

As a nonprogramming fan of both experimental and pop music, I was fascinated by the way the interviews and articles tie together seemingly disparate realms of my musical interest from disco to hip hop to John Cage though these are primarily sources or reference points. Cage only gets mentioned in passing but I imagine he would find many of these artists interesting beyond the fact that he considered all sound a form of art if one simply listens attentively. I believe he would also be fascinated by the working methods shared by even the most pop-oriented of acts included in this volume.

Though I was personally drawn to certain artists, the book as a whole is quite strong and I'm not even sure where to start in giving examples. Instead, here is a list of the included artists with the understanding that more appear in some of the articles:

  • Kraftwerk
  • Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, The Units, Wall of Voodoo, Japan, Our Daughters Wedding
  • Frankie Knuckles, Jesse Saunders, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk
  • Juan Atkins
  • Front 242
  • Charlie Clouser
  • The Orb
  • Orbital, Meat Beat Manifesto, Underworld
  • Aphex Twin
  • Chemical Brothers
  • Daft Punk
  • Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva
  • BT
  • Amon Tobin
  • Flying Lotus
  • Autechre
  • Crystal Method
  • Robert Henke (Monolake)

Peter Kirn has more about the book including a complete table of contents with article titles and authors that should give one a better sense of the full range of discussion.

Buy: Keyboard Presents the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music

Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.