Thursday, April 11, 2024

Futuromania - out today!

The UK edition of Futuromania is out today on White Rabbit ! Via select record stores, comes with a limited edition freezine of bonus pieces! 

Check out this radio show about Futuromania I pulled together for NTS - also available at Soundcloud and Mixcloud

Here's an interview I did with Metal magazine's Lainie Wallace about the book. 

And here's a chat I had with Moonbuilding's Neil Mason. 

Watch this space for news about podcast appearances, webzine and radio interviews, and  upcoming events. 

US edition  out May 7 via Hachette

Futuromaniac playlists -  Spotify -   Spotify (long mix) -  Tidal (longest mix)







About the book: 

Futuromania: Electronic Dreams, Desiring Machines & Tomorrow's Music Today is a celebration of music that feels like a taste of tomorrow. Sounds that prefigure pop music’s future - the vanguard genres and heroic innovators whose discoveries eventually get accepted by the wider mass audience.  But it’s also about the way music can stir anticipation for a thrillingly transformed world just around the corner: a future that might be utopian or dystopian, but at least will be radically changed and exhilaratingly other. 

Futuromania shapes over two-dozen essays and interviews into a chronological narrative of machine-music from the 1970s to now. The book explores the interface between pop music and science fiction’s utopian dreams and nightmare visions, always emphasizing the quirky human individuals abusing the technology as much as the era-defining advances in electronic hardware and digital software. 

Futuromania is an enthused listening guide that will propel readers towards adventures in sound. There is a lifetime of electronic listening here.























Sunday, April 07, 2024

Mania!

Unless we count caffeine,  I've never used a stimulant - or any kind of drug - to help with writing. Not even during the most against-all-odds of all-nighters, or when facing a pile-up of deadlines.... not even in that marathon-turned-to-sprint last leg of completing a book. 

Staring down a delivery crisis, the idea of resorting to some kind of writer's little helper, a chemical crutch, has occasionally felt tempting....  but ultimately seemed strategically unwise. What if I wrote a load of drivel in a manic state? (Okay, okay, I can see the quip coming here - let's say "more so than  the usual"). What if I just lost it completely? (Certain colleagues and their amphetamine misadventures gave me a dire warning there).

Better to power through the exhaustion, jacked up on an accelerant cocktail of will and fear and caffeine.

So I read with interest these essays at Pioneerworks / Broadcast about Adderall use, and how apparently chronic and widespread it is. 

Particularly, it seems, with those who work with text - writing it, reading it. 

The piece by Amber A’Lee Frost on how an editor can recognise if a writer is "on the stuff" was especially interesting.  She says she can spot the Adderall House Style instantly and breaks it down into various categories of symptoms:

Endless revision

Fixation on minutiae, leading to paralysis

Sprawl - the piece gets too long, goes on too many tangents, the writer can't bring themselves to throw away any of the juicy bits of information, ideas, quotes, jokes they've come up with

Punchy - wisecracking tone. 

Punchiness - picking fights, a prickly, combative, point-scoring tone.

Epiphanies - bolts of illusory revelation. 

Paranoia - spotting hidden patterns, secret connections.

What I wondered, though, scanning this list of total-give-away hallmarks of Adderall-addled prose, was - aren't many of them simply hallmarks of being a writer? Inherent tendencies towards which writers are prone? 

Especially in the age of word-processing, when you can fiddle away at things endlessly, finessing a phrase or moving things around structurally (whereas in the age of the typewriter, the commitment of the key struck and the carriage return imposed a certain finitude, a propulsive thrust onwards toward the "finished" line).  

Especially, also, in the age of the internet, where the research process so insidiously and irresistibly slides into protraction, a seeping sideways into adjacent avenues. 

But I've known fellow writers, who I'm fairly certain weren't on anything except their internal supplies of obsessiveness, who produced 20 thousand word pieces when they had been asked for 4000 tops... who have delivered the copy weeks or months late... who got so tangled up in research, they never completed at all. 

A few times in my life I've been that person, or near enough.

In a sense, the unconscious motivation of writing - or one of them - is to get oneself into this "high performance" state, also known as "flow", being "in the zone", etc. 

The work itself is the drug.

Maybe you have a kind of internal-Adderall latent within you, as a potential - it's what you tap. 

The doing of the work is dopaminergic.

You get high on these self-generated chemicals, and then the symptoms that Amber A’Lee Frost enumerates emerge.

Maybe the Adderall is just a shortcut, for those who want to get "there" quicker, as soon as possible? 


^^^^^^^^^^^^


Another thought:

All these tendencies 

endless revision  / fixation on minutiae / sprawl /  excessive wisecracking / punchiness / illusory epiphany / paranoia 

These are the Zone of Fruitless Intensification stage of "the right stuff" - virtues turned to self-defeating vices...  necessary strengths that, pushed too far, become weaknesses.

Dial each of them back a bit, back into the fruitful zone, and you have:  

perfectionism / detail-orientation / fecundity / wit / polemical edge / insight / pattern-recognition

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Futuromania!


My ninth book is out in a couple of weeks time! 

Futuromania: Electronic Dreams, Desiring Machines & Tomorrow's Music Today is a themed collection about music and the future, looking at the intersection between science fiction and pop, and exploring "the rhetorics of temporality."

release rationale:

Futuromania: Electronic Dreams, Desiring Machines & Tomorrow's Music Today is a celebration of music that feels like a taste of tomorrow. Sounds that prefigure pop music’s future - the vanguard genres and heroic innovators whose discoveries eventually get accepted by the wider mass audience.  But it’s also about the way music can stir anticipation for a thrillingly transformed world just around the corner: a future that might be utopian or dystopian, but at least will be radically changed and exhilaratingly other. 

Futuromania shapes over two-dozen essays and interviews into a chronological narrative of machine-music from the 1970s to now. The book explores the interface between pop music and science fiction’s utopian dreams and nightmare visions, always emphasizing the quirky human individuals abusing the technology as much as the era-defining advances in electronic hardware and digital software.  

A tapestry of the scenes and subcultures that have proliferated in that febrile, sexy and contested space where man meets machine, Futuromania is an enthused listening guide that will propel readers towards adventures in sound. There is a lifetime of electronic listening here.


UK edition 11 April 2024 via White Rabbit

Via select record stores, the first five hundred copies come with a freezine with bonus pieces


                              


US edition on Hachette out on May 7.

For a flavor of futuromaniac music, try these playlists

Quick tour of future pop - Spotify

Extended odyssey into the future frontier - Spotify, Tidal

Finally, I've started a blog (yet another blog!) dedicated to the book: Futuromania,  which will initially be a place for news about Futoromania appearances on podcasts and in the media, interviews, and events, and then later will develop into a repository for all the "future music"-related writings I've done over the years that didn't make it into this volume. 


























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