26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Looking forward to the past,
This review is from: Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to its Own Past (Paperback)
Reynold's book explores an essential issue for anyone interested in popular music. In fact, it's an issue for our society in general; are we already living in the "future" and just endlessly recycling the past. Or maybe it's just that boring old farts like myself and Simon Reynolds see the last 10-15 years of music as lacking any direction and originality? This is a very interesting read but I resist giving it a 5 (or should that be 11?) for several reasons. Firstly he does tend to meander off into areas of music history that interest him, which at times distracts from the central issue of the book. Do we need quite so many examples of the way in which the musical past is being recycled to get the point. I like the idea that things started to go sour in the mid 1960s, but it could be said that the idea of endless novelty in music or any other art form is relatively recent. e.g. until the 20th century architects were quite happy to recycle Greek and Roman styles. Perhaps the novel and the cool cultures of the post WW2 era are just an anomaly? At the same time, pop music is not unique in recycling and reusing the past as a source for new movements and styles. If I were to get all Hegelian I'd say that all novelty is a synthesis of past ideas (theses): r and b, jazz and blues did not just drop from the sky, but were themselves syntheses of earlier styles/types of music.
These criticism's aside, I hope, as Bruce Sterling claims, that the era of atemporality is only temporary (?!). Reynold's book prompts me to wonder if the future might *have* a future after all, and hence it's well worth reading.