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Simon Reynolds (1963 - )

Lifespan: 1963 -

Related: music journalism - cultural studies

Coined: post rock

Blog: here

Reynolds has become well-known for his incorporation of critical theory in his analysis of music. He has written extensively on gender, class, race, and sexuality, and their influence on music. The Sex Revolts discusses gender in rock music. In his study of the relationship between class and music, Reynolds coined the term liminal class, defined as the upper-working class and lower-middle-class. This is a group he credits with "a lot of music energy".

Reynolds has also written extensively about drug culture and its relationship to and effect on music. In his book, Generation Ecstasy, Reynolds traces the effects of drugs on the ups and downs of the rave scene. His evidence of his interest in the topic can be found in Generation Ecstasy, and in his review of Trainspotting, among other things. [Jan 2007]


Simon Reynolds is an influential British music critic. He is one of the most prominent critics to write about electronic dance music, though he writes about rock music as well. He coined the term "post-rock". He also incorporates a lot of discussion of gender identity into his writing.

Born in London in 1963, Reynolds is a graduate of Oxford specializing in American History. He moved to New York City after getting married in 1992, and there has written for Spin, The New York Times and many other publications.

He is the author of the 1998 book, Generation Ecstasy (ISBN 0-415-92373-5), published first in Britain under a different title.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Reynolds

Contemporary popular music

Mr. Reynolds has written some of the most thought-provoking commentary on contemporary popular music. In his first book, Blissed Out: the Raptures of Rock (London: Serpents Tail, 1990) the author explores the concept of "bliss" in pop music while describing its origins, social context, and aesthetic content. Throughout his career, Mr. Reynolds has written dozens of insightful articles for publications such as The Village Voice, Melody Maker, Spin, The Wire, and Rolling Stone. He is one of a few music journalists (Greil Marcus, Kodwo Eschun, and David Toop are others) who comfortably draw from critical sources as diverse as Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari, Roland Barthes, and Johnny Rotten. --Kim Cascone

Early 1996, a club in Meinz near Frankfurt

Early 1996, a club in Meinz near Frankfurt, a Vauxhall-Arches-style catacomb carved into the concrete foundations of a bridge over the big river (whose name I forget). That's where I fell in love with house again, after a long period of thinking it the lightweight option c.f. jungle. Accompanied by Force Inc/Mille Plateaux boss and lager connoisseur Achim Szepanski, I'd came to check out a set by Chicago DJ Gene Farris of Relief/Casual/Force Inc reknown. Helped by copious alcohol intake and a contact high from the killer vibe in that murky crowded cavern, a revelation began to unfold: just how much fantastic music I'd missed out on through being such a monomaniacal junglist patriot, and the extent to which house had a rebirth of creativity in the mid-Nineties after a long null lull of tribal tedium and handbag hackwork. Farris played so much great stuff--from early filter-house/disco cut-up stuff to Relief-style nu-acid to stuff so techy, tracky and abstrakkk it was essentially what we'd today call micro-house. But if a single song can be said to have opened my ears it was when Farris dropped "Flash" by Green Velvet. When those double-time snares kicked in, it was one of those whatdafuck?!?!?!?! see-the-light moments. -- Simon Reynolds via http://members.aol.com/blissout/unfaves2001.htm [Jan 2005]

On 1990s nostalgia in house music

... all that awfully dreary Afro-Brazilian influenced house... -- Simon Reynolds via http://members.aol.com/blissout/unfaves2001.htm

Bang is one of a number of New York parties directly modeled on the Loft, a legendary dance party of the early '70s hosted by David Mancuso in his own apartment. Fascinated by the futuristic, dance culture feels an equally potent tug toward the past: It's obsessed with roots, origins, and all things "old school." In the last few years, interest in this pre-disco era of New York nightlife—during which the Loft and similar clubs like the Sanctuary and the Gallery thrived—has grown dramatically. Partly this is a response to a sense of malaise in the city's contemporary dance culture, which some identify with slick corporate superclubs like the recently closed Twilo and others attribute to the Giuliani-sponsored crackdown on clubland. Reinvoking the "original principles" of the New York dance underground, nights like Body & Soul, Together in Spirit, Journey, and Soul-Sa appeal both to disenchanted veterans of the original scene and to neophytes who feel the romance of a lost golden age they never actually lived through. With clubbing tourists coming from all over the world to experience "the real thing" as a sort of time-travel simulacrum, New York's '70s-style dance underground has become a veritable heritage industry similar to jazz in New Orleans. -- Simon Reynolds via http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0128/reynolds.php [Jan 2005]


And perhaps the whole debate over purism versus impurism is based on the mistaken belief that you can map aesthetics onto politics, find a straightforward equivalence or correlation between worth in one realm and the other. Dick Hebdige, the famed subcultural theorist (and contemporary of Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy), once described the development of UK pop music as "a phantom history of British race relations". I've long concurred with this view, but now I'm not so sure. The racial narrative--above all, the white romance with black music--is just one of many threads in the tangled tapestry of pop culture, and the picture gets confused by a host of other factors and struggles: class, gender, technology. -- Simon Reynolds via http://members.aol.com/blissout/purefusion.htm

Gilles Deleuze, the Rhizome

(a network of stems that are laterally connected), which is opposed to hierarchical root-systems (such as those found in trees). In music, 'rhizomatic' equates with the Eno/dub idea of a democracy of sounds, a dismantling of the normal ranking of instruments in the mix (usually privileging the voice or lead guitar). Instead, says Achim, there's a "synthesisation of heterogeneous sounds and material through a kind of composition that holds the sound elements together without them losing their heterogeneity". Anticipated by the fractal funk and chaos-theorems of Can and early 70s Miles Davis (the 'nobody solos, everybody solos' principle), rhizomatic music today takes the form of DJ cut 'n' mix (at its rare, daring best), avant garde HipHop and post-rock. And the output of Mille Plateaux [the label], of course. -- Simon Reynolds Mille Plateaux: The Rhizomatic Music of Frankfurt, Germany, first appeared in Wire magazine 146, april 1996

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