All Music Guide to Electronica

This massive book is biblical in proportion, but unfortunately does not qualify as the bible for electronic music fans.

This guide to electronica is nearly 700 pages long, and it manages to cover a great deal of territory. The emphasis is one reviews, and the guide manages to fit in about 600 pages of music reviews. This is indispensable…it’s the biggest collection of electronic review I’ve ever seen. The reviews are in alphabetical order by artist, and cover most of the major artists in popular electronic music from the 70’s on.

The guide starts out with brief introductions to various styles of electronica, and some of the major artists of each style. The book wraps up with several essays that discuss major electronic styles, some of the main artists, and how influences have changed the sound of the music over time.

I find the Guide to Electronica indispensable, but that doesn’t mean that it is without fault. The book often feels like it was cut and pasted together, rather than written as a unified whole. Because of this, there are a lot of inconsistencies in the reviews, even within a single artist. The book also suffers from a bit of long-term memory loss, because it traces the history of electronica back to the 70’s and 80’s, but not much further.

Some important electronica is left out, while some of the artists reviewed aren’t electronica musicians. There’s very little discussion of Giorgio Moroder, who’s “I Feel Love” is a blueprint for trance. New Age and space music are skimmed over, yet there are many examples of bands that seem to be more “hair bands” rather than electronica artists. Klaus Schulze gets less space than Miles Davis.

The bottom line on this book is that any electronic music fan should be able to flip through this and find dozens of new artists to check out. That makes it indispensable.

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