Simon Reynolds

Simon Reynolds

Simon Reynolds (born 1963 in London, England; raised in Hertfordshire) is an English music critic who is well-known for his writings on electronic dance music and for coining the term "post-rock". Besides electronic dance music, Reynolds has written about a wide range of artists and musical genres, and has written books on post-punk and rock. He has contributed to "Melody Maker" (where he first made his name), "The New York Times", "Village Voice", "Spin", "The Guardian", "Rolling Stone", "The Observer", "Artforum", "New Statesman", "The Wire", "Mojo", "Uncut", and others. He currently resides in the East Village in New York City, USA with his wife, Joy Press, and their children, Kieran and Tasmine.

History and career

Reynolds' first experience writing about music was with "Monitor", a fanzine he helped to found in 1984 while he was studying history at Oxford. The publication only lasted for six issues. When it was discontinued in 1986, Reynolds was already making his name writing for "Melody Maker", one of the three major British music magazines of the time (the other two being the "New Musical Express" and "Sounds"). His early "Melody Maker" writings often contained strong criticisms of the concept of "soul" (then being heavily promoted by the "NME"), and of the somewhat earnest politicisation associated with the Red Wedge movement. He has since stated that his apparent de-politicisation at the time was mainly a result of his sheer despair at Thatcherism and desire to escape - into a parallel world which was, as in the title of his first book, "blissed out". He also wrote a number of articles analysing what has since become known as twee pop from a somewhat sociological perspective, seeing in it a desire to escape the dominant 1980s values of commercialism and Americanisation and to return to a perceived innocent past.

In 1990, Reynolds left "Melody Maker" (although he would continue to contribute to the magazine until 1996) and went freelance, splitting his time between London and New York. The same year, he published "Blissed Out: Raptures of Rock", a collection of his writings from the 1980s. Until his switch to freelance writing, Reynolds had focused mainly on rock, punk rock, post-punk, and pop. But in the early 1990s, he became involved in rave culture and the electronic dance music scene. He began writing about electronic music and became one of the foremost music critics of electronic dance music.

In 1994, Reynolds moved permanently to the East Village in Manhattan. In 1995, he co-authored "The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock'N'Roll" with his wife, Joy Press. "Sex Revolts" is one of the major reasons why Reynolds has gained a reputation for the discussion of gender roles in music; the book is a critical/clinical analysis of the theme of gender in rock.

In 1998, Reynolds published "Energy Flash: a Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture" in the UK, and became a senior editor at "Spin" magazine in the US. In 1999, he went back to freelance work and published the American version of "Energy Flash" in abridged form, titled: "Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture". "Energy Flash" is a comprehensive history of what became rave music, starting with Detroit techno and Chicago house and tracing the evolution of the music back and forth across the Atlantic, all the way up to the late 1990s. Reynolds combines analysis of the music, social background and history, and interviews with big names of the day. One of the most notable aspects of the book is Reynolds' analysis of the role of drugs, particularly ecstasy, in rave culture.

In 2005, the UK version of "Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978-1984" was published; the American version came out in early 2006. "Rip it Up" is a history of post-punk, defining the genre and placing it in the context of 1970s and 1980s music.

Reynolds has continued writing for prominent magazines, as well as his blog, "Blissblog".

In 2007, Reynolds published "Bring the Noise: 20 Years of Writing about Hip Rock and Hip Hop" in the UK, a collection of his writing themed around the relationship between white bohemian rock and black street music. In 2008, an updated edition of "Energy Flash" was published, with new chapters on the ten years of dance music following the appearance of the first edition.

He contributed a chapter to "Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture" (The MIT Press, 2008), edited by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky.

Critical theory

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". [ [ Perfect Sound Forever: Simon Reynolds interview, on post-punk ] ]

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 [Simon Reynolds: [ High society - Irvine Welsh's film 'Trainspotting'] . ArtForum, Summer 1996] of "Trainspotting", among other things.

Reynolds was influenced by philosophers as well as music theorists, including:
*Gilles Deleuze
*Félix Guattari
*Brian Eno
*Joe Carducci
*the Situationists

Reynolds says that he has been greatly influenced by Marxist thought.Fact|date=June 2008 He talks about concepts like commodity fetishism and false consciousness where they apply to music (Reynolds spoke of the two examples mentioned in relation to hip hop).Fact|date=June 2008


* "Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock". Serpent's Tail, August 1990, ISBN 1-85242-199-1
* "The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock 'N' Roll ". Co-authored with Joy Press. Serpent's Tail, January 1995, ISBN 1-85242-254-8
* "Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture" (UK title, "Pan Macmillan", 1998, ISBN 0-330-35056-0) published in abridged form as "Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture" (North American title, "Routledge", 1999, ISBN 0-415-92373-5)
* "Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978-1984". Faber and Faber Ltd, April 2005, ISBN 0-571-21569-6 (U.S. Edition: Penguin, February 2006, ISBN 0-14-303672-6)
* "Bring The Noise: 20 Years of writing about Hip Rock and Hip-Hop". Faber and Faber Ltd, May 2007, ISBN 978-0-571-23207-9


* [ Interview] Interview about "Rip it Up"
* [ Repellent review and interview] Another "Rip it Up" interview with review
* [ Seattle Weekly interview] Another "Rip it Up" interview
* [ Interview about "Energy Flash" ("Generation Ecstasy")]
* Robert Christgau: [ A New (Rock) Polarity] New York Times Book Review, 1995 (review of "The Sex Revolts")
* [ New York Times review of "Rip it Up"]

External links

* [ Blissout - his blog.]
* [] Rip It Up and Start Again information
* [] Bring the Noise blog
* [] Energy Flash blog
* [] Blissed Out blog
* [] Blog for The Sex Revolts
* [ ReynoldsRetro blog] archive of writing
* [] Simon Reynolds's defunct website
* [ Rock's Back Pages] Bio and list of articles Reynolds has written

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