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Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  819 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
In Generation Ecstasy, Simon Reynolds takes the reader on a guided tour of this end-of-the-millenium phenomenon, telling the story of rave culture and techno music as an insider who has dosed up and blissed out. A celebration of rave's quest for the perfect beat definitive chronicle of rave culture and electronic dance music.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 7th 1999 by Routledge (first published 1998)
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Nov 28, 2007 Chris rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who lived it, but doesn't know why
I finally woke up in 2004, after a decade of living this book. Clubland, and Party Monster, are two other books that capture the essence of this so-called era.

It was very informative and quite revealing of how rave culture came about. It gives good insight into how the music was created, how the parties got started, where the drugs came from and what they did, and how and why it all ended.

I don't know what to say. If you never took part in any of it, and you want to understand what went on, the
Jun 09, 2012 Eric rated it really liked it
This book is a very detailed, autobiographical history of electronic dance music. Reynolds bathes the book in fountains of extraneous adjectives. (I can easily visualize him doing lines of blow off a thesaurus page between writing sessions). Nevertheless, Generation Ecstasy is a great read for true EDM nerds like myself. I would love to see an updated edition including the Great Dubstep Revolution of 2005-2010. That is, if Reynolds' dopamine receptors can handle it.
David Bjelland
Dec 12, 2016 David Bjelland rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, history
Simon Reynolds could write a book about polka and I'd still get completely engrossed by it, so I feel lucky that his specialties happen to overlap with music I find myself obsessing over anyway, first (for me) with Rip It Up and Start Again / Post-Punk and now with Generation Ecstasy / Techno. As a personal history of a genre that practically co-evolved with ecstasy, some of the writing can come off a bit... well, ecstatic, but I'm inclined to find it endearing rather than grating. That's partly ...more
May 05, 2012 Stefanie rated it it was amazing
Although a bit dated now, an excellent history of the origins of the rave scene in both the UK and America. This book stands out from others in the field due to 1) Reynolds skilled writing style, 2) his knowledge of the many variants of electronic music and ability to describe them for non-listeners, and 3) his theorizing about the meaning of the culture. He manages to demonstrate both that he's a fan and participant, but also able to turn a critical eye on the whole thing. If only this were req ...more
Frank Mitchell
It was a great read when it was first written. But with much of Simon Reynolds work, it has a very one sided British take on a very much American culture. Even though the scene was born in the U.K., it seems as this book was written to remind us all that that is where it came from, even though I still believe this book has it's good moments.
Raül De Tena
Sep 27, 2014 Raül De Tena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
¿Es posible una verdadera “crítica musical”? De hecho, me permito llevar la pregunta un poco más allá: ¿es realmente necesaria la “crítica musical”? Es curioso que, siendo la música una de las artes populares más antiguas (mucho más que el cine y el cómic, por ejemplo), no exista una crítica musical institucionalizada: partiendo del hecho de que siempre hay cierto espacio para la percepción subjetiva, un crítico cinematográfico puede utilizar determinadas herramientas puramente formales para dej ...more
Nov 10, 2016 Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Energy Flash is a history of rave, more or less everything from acid house and Detroit techno through to dubstep, trad garage and all that. I was never quite an evangelical devotee of the scene - or the scenes, I suppose, but I've liked some of the music over the years, and have even done the occasional Watusi whilst munching on some of those lovely disco biscuits they used to sell. Simon Reynolds does as thorough a job with this as he did with the excellent Rip It Up and Start Again, covering a ...more
Feb 14, 2017 Jeff rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was a very in-depth look at rave culture and the evolution of techno music from the 80's till the end of the 90's, with more depth and focus being placed on the early 90's. It covers a number of different rave scenes that developed both in the UK and the US, along with many of the artists and DJ's involved. Reynolds writes from the perspective of an insider (he was at many of the legendary raves he covers) discussing the culture, the drugs and most obviously the mu ...more
Simon Reynolds is a British music journalist (born in 1963) who has covered several different genres of popular music, but experiences in clubs, raves and with the drug Ecstasy have made a powerful impact on his life. Energy Flash is a voluminous survey of electronic dance music (EDM) and the culture (style, drugs) surrounding it since its start in the 1980s. The first edition of the book (titled Generation Ecstasy in the United States) appeared in 1998, but a second edition describes later deve ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, 2013
I never realized how much house music (or, more innacurately, "techno") had in common with punk music. Both genres were born in the hands of untrained amateurs who took instruments and bent them very far from their original purpose. Reynolds overlays the many, many sub-genres of house against the waves of ecstasy that first hit in England and the U.S in the mid-80's, and continued on through the 90's. He argues, persuasively, that Ecstasy itself is a rather harmless drug that can create a sense ...more
Jun 21, 2012 Zach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only decided to read select chapters, but here's my take on what I read.

The topic wasn't really down my alley, after all, but a lot of what Reynolds had to say about the ecstasy and rave culture was interesting. There were times when he name-drops left and right, making it hard to keep track of who's who. The writing, at times, can also get somewhat boring. Otherwise,

Overall, he profiles the scenes in Chicago, New York, and the U.K. completely and goes through all of the further influence rave
James Elliott
May 01, 2013 James Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really huge book, and occasionally goes into more train-spotting detail than even a new DJ who is deeply fascinated by and invested in the music can handle, but I found it well worth the effort to finish. I now have a much better sense of where the sounds I have so long enjoyed came from, how they relate to each other, and the details of the journey people took in creating and enjoying them are often delightful. The author definitely has strong opinions about the music, not all of whic ...more
May 06, 2014 Henry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even when you don't like the music his descriptions are brilliant.
In of the issues with reading pop journalism in the Spotify age is that often music sounds better in words than in life. This is so true of the rave that Reynolds describes. But good on 'im for trying to describe the "feel" of the sound rather than always the words/songwriter biography.
I'm with him that songwriting credits need to change, Jagger Richards are credited with the Stones classics, but the song wouldn't be th
Nov 23, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book that struck a chord with my own history of 'Raving' as the author got into the music in '92 which is the same time I was going out. ''Ardcore' was in full flow, there were so many good tunes and the music was changing week on week. It was evolving and laying down the foundations into the sub-genres of Jungle/D&B and Happy Hardcore and beyond. If you were there it will bring back some of those lost memories – if you weren't it will give you an insight into what it was really al ...more
Amar Pai
Jul 07, 2007 Amar Pai rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of techno, drum and bass, acid house, summers of love, nutty hats, great drugs
I bought this in London. The British edition's title is "Energy Flash," which strikes me as a much more dignified choice. Either way, the book inside is a great encapsulation of dance culture in UKs during the age of pirate radios, massive shows at Fabric, ecstasy easy to get as beer, and music that it takes a serious brain to be able to talk about without sound like a total ponce. Reynolds is that brain. That man, I mean.
Brendan Detzner
Jul 01, 2013 Brendan Detzner rated it really liked it
I came in knowing very little about the subject matter, and this book did me the huge favor of showing me how much of what I thought I knew was completely off base. It generated some really interesting roommate conversations- "Hear this?" "Yeah, techno. German or something?" "This was made by black teenagers in Detroit trying to keep thugs from crashing their parties." "No." "Yes." "Dude, no." "Read the book." Very good stuff.
Sep 16, 2012 Francis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I use this book regularly in my research around mdma, ecstasy, rave culture etc. there's a depth of information here that is vital. i'd also recommend his account of Sadie Plant, Nick Land and the cybernetic culture research unit at Warwick University:
Oct 29, 2012 Kyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a detailed and passionate trip through a long history of dance culture, this is a great read. As an introduction to dance genres/culture for newbies, it will prove daunting in its scope and intellect. 'Energy Flash' is more for those already interested and versed in EDM; in that sense, reading it is like talking to an impassioned friend while sharing a pint.
Aug 13, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE history of the Uk acid-house movement insightfully analysed and dissected by perhaps the best writer on musi cthat there is - Reynold's approach strikes a great balance between academic rigour and an immensely readable style. His books on post-punk and nostalgia/pop culture are equally impressive.
David Melik
Dec 17, 2008 David Melik rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, music
This book lists several interesting musicians I would not have found out about otherwise. It is what I had read before Wikipedia for history of ambient/trance/techno/rave/hardcore/jungle/trip-hop/dub, bigbeat (the latter of which I only listen to a friends works of, unless stuff is on an old CD I have,) etc..
pan ellington
Jul 06, 2016 pan ellington rated it liked it
Shelves: research-writing
kind of pretentious. while rich in music analysis and a detailed history of its evolution, it was a noticeably light in each with respect to the scene and its culture. i also found much of what (little) the author wrote about the rave scene in los angeles to be incredibly off. a good exercise in research, nonetheless.
Aug 25, 2007 Rob rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: nostalgic ravers
Decent retrospective. Take home feel: "Wish I was there!" As I recall, a scholarly sociological approach. Nothing Earth-shattering but probably a good one to have on the bookshelf in the living room or else lying around on the table. Nice pictures, too.
Aug 04, 2011 Ludovico rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Ardkore you know the score!!!
Fundmental compendium for anyone interested in the so called rave culture. Nice dot connecting between the drug (ab)use, the society and the music. The chapters on the Hardcore and Drum n bass scene gave me goose skin...
Apr 11, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Read this in the early part of 2000's and it is a good education on the underground electronic dance revolution also know as Rave's. It is more about the origin of the music than drugs which I really liked so don't let the title mislead you to think it is about drugs only.
Allison Thurman
Feb 03, 2010 Allison Thurman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-loan
The first (relatively) comprehensive history of the rave scene, at least from the UK perspective. Have 2 copies; will share one.
Aug 03, 2011 Edmole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Simon Reynolds is as enjoyable as anything he writes about. And he writes about some enjoyable things. Look at the cover of this book though, right - IT'S ABOUT DRUGS. LOOK AT IT. DRUGS.
Miguel Trujano
Mucha información, necesitas ser realmente un experto en música electrónica, pero de los temas que si sabes pues esta muy bueno!
Jul 01, 2013 Jacco rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popmuziek, non-fictie
More of an encyclopaedia than a regular historical account - I would've liked it better if it had been half the size.
Amar Pai
Jul 05, 2007 Amar Pai rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the British edition. The American version was republished as "Generation Ecstasy" or some such.
Gerry Mc
Sep 11, 2016 Gerry Mc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. Music journalism is inherently flawed but to attempt to make sense of electronic dance music as a whole from one person's perspective this book is something else.
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Simon Reynolds is one of the most respected music journalists working today, and his writing is both influential and polarizing. He draws on an impressive range of knowledge, and writes with a fluid, engaging style. His books Rip it Up and Start Again and Generation Ecstasy are well-regarded works about their respective genres, and RETROMANIA may be his most broadly appealing book yet. It makes an ...more
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