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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive guide to dance music, accept no other
Although Simon Reynolds ends the book with his personal theory that a music genres relevance is directly proportional to the amount of books written about it, dance music isn't yet at this point. Unlike rock n roll, this music has not been culturally dissected and mummified in a museum somewhere. There is much to suggest that this is now taking place but Simon...
Published on 9 Aug 1999

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative but not objective enough
Simon Reynolds' "Energy Flash" is one of the most frequently prescribed accounts of modern dance music and culture. Reynolds was one of the first music critics and journalists to write about the blossoming dance scene of the 90s in more depth than your typical Mixmag "phat choon" hyperbole. As such his works are often top of the lists of things to read if you want to...
Published on 10 July 2009 by D. Moss


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive guide to dance music, accept no other, 9 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Paperback)
Although Simon Reynolds ends the book with his personal theory that a music genres relevance is directly proportional to the amount of books written about it, dance music isn't yet at this point. Unlike rock n roll, this music has not been culturally dissected and mummified in a museum somewhere. There is much to suggest that this is now taking place but Simon Reynolds efforts will stand head & shoulders above the others in this field.
Firstly, it is written from an enthusiasts point of view and this comes screaming out of the books text at all points. His style is easy going and clever, with enough musical references to delight the most anal of trainspotters.
Reynolds focusses on dance music in the UK, from its birth as imported street music, to the first British attempts at house music, getting it wrong and creating a musical hybrid which ends up becoming drum n bass. For someone who was round in the early nineties when much of this was going on, this is a tremendously exciting book which covers a creative period which most dance music hipsters are loathe to even recognise (although this is now changing and hardcore is being given the credit it deserves).
A free CD comes with the book showing the evolution from house to drum n bass over the course of around ten years and makes an ideal companion to the book, especially for those of us who didn't bother to buy the records the first time around.
A joy and a pleasure for anyone with even a passing interest in this subject.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The utopia and dystopia in ten and more years of music, 27 Nov 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Paperback)
Simon Reynolds - Energy Flash (Picador) Watch out, this interactive book is a time bomb supercharged with music, history, interviews and...a CD! Yeah, that's why it's interactively cool! Simon Reynolds, historiographer of the musiquarium of the last twenty years brings you in a journey through the places and the records of all times. From the Chicago house and gay black scene and the techno and black scene in Detroit to the Ecstasy scene of Ibiza and then the British scene. Everything might sound rather the same of what you have already read in Collin' s book, but this book goes further, since it describes even the equipment often used and it stops to brood on other scenes such as the hardcore scene, the techno scene (with precious flashes on Belgium and Germany), the spiral tribe movement, the ambient and trance, the pirate radios and their hip MCs, the jungle and gabba fever with its raves at Rezerection, the rave scene in the States, trip hop and Tricky, drum and bass, jazz jungle and Roni Size closing with technostep, sampladelia, post rave fringe in Germany, the spirituality intrinsic in the E culture and the Big Beat. An encyclopaedia of music, criticism and history with an amazingly good discography and with a CD featuring Joey Beltram' s "Energy Flash", Sonz of A Loop Da Loop Era's "Bust That Groove" and 4Hero's "The Elements" among others. Any comment on the tracks chosen to feature on the CD is practically useless: it's all written in this big Bible of our culture, characterised by an intriguing style coloured by its polymorphous metaphors such as "sounds like it's played on a glocken-spiel built from icicles and stalactites", "chugs and puffs like a steam engine on a gradient, with textured percussion that sounds like a cat coughing up a hairball", "sounded like a brain-eraser wiping the slate of consciousness clean" or "sounded like Carmina Burana sung by a choir of satan- worshipping cyborgs", just to mention you a few. An extremely jam packed book, stuffed with ideas and sounds, beautiful the connection between the Nietzsche's dichotomy of Apollonian and Dionysian applied to the E culture with its utopian and dystopian edges. Read it and, when you're tired of reading, put on the CD and get up and dance and when you're get tired of dancing sit down and read and when you're tired of...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A serious trip - but it's a heady one..., 18 Mar 2008
By 
Apollo 11 (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
An exhaustively researched, and extremely insightful book that chronicles the evolution of darn near every genre and sub-genre of dance - from Detroit to dubstep.

Despite the dire cover, which pointlessly signposts this as belonging over at the gurning end of the shelf, Energy Flash contains some brilliantly inventive prose, which Reynolds employs with apparent ease, maintaining your interest as the dna of dance morphs through its myriad remixes.

Written as an overarching analysis of rave, rather than just dance music, Energy Flash also builds into a record of how the entire movement has, and continues to, act as a potent - but not always positive - force for creative, social and political change.

Reynolds is expertly adept at evoking the moods of the time, and specific scenes, and is at his most effective - and sometimes unsettling - as the music and its audience warp symbiotically into places as gritty, hard and dark as the music often becomes.

In recording this simultaneous evo/devo-lution, the author also reflects on the longtail of contemporary drug use, following each new wave of incoming ravers towards their own conclusions. Some peel off to birth slower, more sedate scenes; others chase down some majorly unsavoury damage as they stay the course; but all are united in pursuing their own brand of accelerated experience - all enticed by a beat, and that opening, crashing (but long since faded) buzz surrounding Ecstacy and the promises of an MDMA-altered state.

My two main criticisms are that Reynolds, for all his preference for the inclusive, open-minded embrace of the scenes initial ethos, can display some blatant, and extremely barbed disdain for certain genres - at which point his personal becomes needlessly political, clouding his otherwise insightful judgement, subsequently making enemies of opinion when it does not match his own.

And the other... well, done to its sheer weight of information alone, the book eventually becomes a mind-bending trip all in itself: one that undulates incessantly, keeping constant time, refusing to let you up for air. Because his writing is so clever and packed with the same attention to detail as the breakbeats and affecting sound he chronicles, Reynolds' constant peeking of your senses with sharp focus, and the frenetic facts of yet another twist or turn through sub-genre, into sub-sub-genre, can become tiring.

But in truth the latter is not a negative - just an inevitability of such a large scale work. If you can pace yourself, the rave lifespan of Energy Flash will dilate your mind to how creative we can be with just some beat, sweeps of a synth, and the kind of sweetie treats that rot far more than your teeth if you much too much.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well structured history of acid house, 15 Jan 2004
This review is from: Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Paperback)
If you are at all interested in the history of electronic music, this book will grab your attention very early on, although I did feel that a lot of the author's terminology was somewhat over my head. It is an in depth and honest account of UK Rave, going into detail about the high points of acid house culture, the roots of techno, the dark side of the scene, and the varios genres that were created after the downfall of the free parties.
The covermount CD is a collection of important, genre-defining tracks, and is excellent in itself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and enjoyable, 23 Sep 1999
This review is from: Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Paperback)
An impressive amount of research must have gone into this book, it's ennormous. The writing is very much music journalism --- lots of obscure references and more hyphens then you can shake a stick at ("avant-funk", "post-avant-funk", "post-avant-soundscape-oriented-ambient-techno-funk") . Nevertheless, it is intelligent and enjoyable throughout.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Energy Flashed!, 10 Oct 2004
By 
This review is from: Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Paperback)
The book is simply an individuals view on their experience of certain periods of time, i laughed and not mockingly at the authors fantastic poetic descriptions of sound in its many forms.
The author lets you see the scene through his eyes, i found out some interesting things about producers and clubs, raves etc that i never knew about despite going to some of these events myself.
This is an excellent book for those who have experienced the scene like me and my mates and for those who have not.
The interesting look at the "darkside" of the scene was informative, ecstacy deaths, paranoia, it wasnt all green fields and roses!
Some of the antics rave promoters got upto seemed to be a right laugh and warranted a pat on the back for bravery.
The progress of the scene is what it is, its described well, and doesnt need a stupid arty fancy criticism, you can only describe your own experiences!
So many people went through the scene at different stages and so many have their view, so why not do like the author and write a book about it, ........if you think you can.
I am one of those people who used to say "it just aint like the 89 scene anymore", well now i have grown up, i learnt it was because its 2004.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully written overview of UK/US dance music, 18 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Paperback)
simon reynold's book takes you through all the radical changes in musical style, drug use, drug quality and fashion that have taken place since the eighties. his stance is that of a staunch post-punk rock fan who was a wary convert to ecstacy dance bliss around ten years ago. he still champions any dance music that feels as stupid as the ramones. however, all i want to do now is go out tonight and get on one matey.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative but not objective enough, 10 July 2009
By 
D. Moss "systemj" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Paperback)
Simon Reynolds' "Energy Flash" is one of the most frequently prescribed accounts of modern dance music and culture. Reynolds was one of the first music critics and journalists to write about the blossoming dance scene of the 90s in more depth than your typical Mixmag "phat choon" hyperbole. As such his works are often top of the lists of things to read if you want to learn about dance music.

One of the best things about Reynolds' writing is his determination to move beyond rockist notions of music journalism, which he himself dubbed in his "Bring The Noise" anthology as "bad [literary criticism]", where journalists pour over lyrics meanings, artist statements and subtexts, treating music as essentially glorified poetry.

Reynolds was smart enough to recognise that dance music, with its automatic playback, instrumental grounding and DIY ethos, was opposed to rock music's fixation with the star, the performance and the ego. Dance music is interested in anonymity, in "losing yourself", in de-emphasising the musicians and emphasising the finished sound. In response, his writings on dance music attempt to describe it by invoking critical theory, postmodern philosophy and metanarratives of class and racial struggle.

One of the great strengths of Energy Flash is that it is imbued with the hands-on knowledge and experience of someone who actually attended the raves and parties that they are writing about, and who covered the scenes as they emerged. Reynolds' book is full of information that has largely been forgotten by the temporal club scene, and so it has more vividness than many subsequent books.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Reynolds' pioneering and intelligent critical style, which still feels fresh if you're used to reading vacuous dance mags such as Mixmag, I have to urge caution to anyone who reads this book to educate themselves about dance culture. Such is the breadth and detail of Reynolds' account of dance music history that it would be easy to take his word as gospel regarding musical merit.

As someone who knew their history and their music before reading this book, I was dismayed to read Reynolds' dismissals of many styles and scenes I thoroughly enjoy, on the basis of scene politics. One of the biggest narratives that the book documents is the clash between the breakbeat hardcore that formed the basis of the UK rave scene and the later, "intelligent" styles that attempted to write hardcore out of the history books. As a firm advocate of drum 'n bass in the 90s, Reynolds puts a great deal of effort into championing hardcore and downplaying the scenes that attacked it.

For example, if you'd just read Energy Flash and never heard the music, you'd probably believe that progressive house was a pretentious electronic reincarnation of 70s prog rock that abandoned its black roots in favour of white, rockist values. As someone who likes both old skool hardcore AND progressive, I can understand Reynolds' point regarding the unfair and condescending criticisms of the hardcore scene, but I also think he's guilty of over-reaction and making false claims for the sake of his inter-scene narrative struggle. Only someone who purposefully ignored everything coming out of Renaissance in the early 90s for the sake of his argument could claim that prog house abandoned its black NYC roots. His derogatory descriptions of offending styles border on mere caricature at times, dismissing some wonderful music because of inter-scene snobbery that he should be rising above in a book that aims to document history.

I also found his repeated assertion that "black music = soulful dance music" and "white music = unfunky head music" both lazy and somewhat racist. For example, he states that: "For all its cult of the mystic Orient, Goa Trance is sonically whiter-than-white... with not a lot going on in the rhythm section". While he is clearly attempting to invoke the Orientalism theory of Edward Said and co, Reynolds ultimately ends up subscribing to the same racist assumptions he's attempting to counter, by dividing the world into a white/not white dichotomy, where ANY music of non-white origin should be expected to be rhythmically interesting - in other words funky, soulful and primal as opposed to the cultured white music where tribal groove has been repressed.

Altogether this is a great book for the beginner, but keep your eye open for biases and keep your ear open to the music being discussed before you form an opinion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive work on Dance and Dance culture, 10 April 2009
I bought this on the strength of `Rip it up and Start Again' Simon Reynolds's wonderful discourse on post punk, it did not disappoint. Energy Flash is a work of almost academic breadth and scope. It Takes the reader on a journey from the origins of dance in Detroit and Chicago through to the Acid House of the late 80's in the UK and on through Hardcore, Techno, and Jungle and the more escoteric movements such as Gabba. The work is exhaustive and peppered with references to so many seminal recordings, labels and DJ's that it's made a huge impression on my perception of dance and dance culture which previously had been formed by a leaning towards Trip Hop and Downtempo. This book fills in the gaps and more importantly made me want to listen to many of the tracks, so vivid are his descriptions.

Reynolds occasionally makes visits to 'Pseuds Corner' with his colourful descriptions, but these can be forgiven as his overwhelming enthusiasm which really shines through. Reference is made throughout to the cultural flavour of the times; I had forgotten how the press had a field day with Rave in a similar way that it had vilified punk a decade before. The tone is scholarly and Authoritative from first hand experience, he really has 'been there' and doesn't shrink from a discussion about the drugs subculture and criminality that was a major part of the era. The Bewildering array of dance genres and sub genres are lovingly described and dissected with encyclopaedic knowledge, this is without doubt the Definitive work on Dance and Dance culture.

This a major work and should be required reading for those rock fans who tend to dismiss Dance as commercial Chart fodder.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Describes the indescribeable sound of dance music much better than mixmag, 14 Mar 2010
This review is from: Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Paperback)
Describing songs with lyrics is not too hard but dance music is and Simon Reynolds succeeds very well with this book - so much so that I actually listen to dance music in a different way. For example he says how the visual terminology used to describe movies is best to describe the cinematic sound of dance music, how it's sound is pure sensation in the same way a video game appeals to us rather than the more intellectual way a song with lyrics appeals.

I agree with another reviewer in that some of the terminology and descriptions go over my head but I still think this book is worth it for putting very very comprehensively into words the sound of dance music in a way I had not seen it written before.
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Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture
Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture by Simon Reynolds (Paperback - 21 Aug 1998)
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