The Evolution Of Electronic Dance Music, edited by Create Digital Music’s Peter Kirn, is a book that looks at the history of electronic dance music, through interviews with a variety of artists that helped define it.
The book is largely compiled from interviews published over the last 30 years, in Keyboard and Remix magazines. The artists interviewed are a ‘who’s who’ of electronic music: Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Juan Atkins, The Orb, Aphex Twin, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, BT, The Crystal Method and many others.
Because of the age of many of the interviews, they offer a vintage perspective. So, while some of the discussion is dated, it also often offers a contemporary perspective from the artists, early in their careers.
For example, Kraftwerk is featured in an interview by Jim Aiken from 1982. When Aiken talks about the better-known electronic music of the time, it’s the music of Wendy Carlos & Tomita, not Deadmau5 and Skrillex. But when Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hutter says ‘America is very shy when it comes to electronics. People have all the latest state-of-the-art technology, and yet they put wood panels on the front.”, it shows the context that the band worked within.
In addition to the vintage interviews, there are a couple of new articles by Kirn, that help round out the book. One looks at The Ethnomusicology of Dance Music and another is an interview with Robert Henke (Monolake, Ableton Live). Finally, the book includes some Keyboard articles on key pieces of electronic music gear.
Ultimately, the fact that the book is largely a compilation of previously printed material is limiting. As a result, the book is not a comprehensive look at the evolution of electronic dance music.
Nevertheless, The Evolution Of Electronic Dance Music is full of fantastic material. It’s a pleasure to read the older material, by long-time Keyboard writers like Jim Aiken and Robert Doerschuk, and understand not only what electronic music pioneers were thinking, but how contemporaries viewed their work. And the interviews with Aphex Twin and Autechre are rare examples of these artists actually opening up about their work.
The Evolution Of Electronic Dance Music is available on the Web via Amazon.