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. 

Here's a chat I had with Moonbuilding's Neil Mason. 

And here's a conversation with Bill Proctor for his electro-history podcast Spacelab 

Watch this space for news about more 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.


  1. Got it in the post today, had a real "oh shit" moment reading the 70s synth essay.

    I'd often go to my mates house after 6th form where we'd be bored teenagers, listening to music, playing computer games, reading etc. if it was raining (north wales, it was almost always raining). This bloke his mum cleaned for would give her copies of the observer music monthly for him to read, so he had piles of them in his room. Distinctly remember reading that synth piece and immediately pirating a bunch of stuff mentioned - switched on bach, phaedra, zeit, blade runner and clockwork orange soundtracks. Christ, it may have been how i listened to kraftwerk for the first time. Tldr - i got a lot of mileage out of that article! (And still will, plenty i still havent listened to).

    Do you any chance recall if you wrote the panda bear - person pitch review for the omm? It may well have been the first thing i read by you.

    Odd how you remember so much weird shit from when you're younger (especially for me, given how much dope we were smoking).

    1. Nice one!

      Yes I did review Panda Bear in the Observer. Loved Person Pitch, less keen on the next one, which I reviewed for The Wire.

      They are both here and there's a bit of an argument in the comments about whether the Beach Boys are a good or bad influence!

    2. My mistake - that link is to the Tomboy one, this is the OMM - which i think is still on the Guardian site anyway

  2. Yer I found the person pitch one immediately after posting the comment. Must have read that review at least a dozen times, some of the tracks had leaked but not the whole album or something so was hotly anticipated.

    Funnily enough, I started subscribing to the wire around the time the tomboy review was published. Crossing my fingers that hopefully this simon Reynolds chap didnt know what he was talking about hehehe. But yer, what a disappointment.

    That comment section should be a fun read this evening.

  3. I'm so happy "Futuromania" begins with the Moroder/Summer piece. I fell under the sway of "I Feel Love" when I first heard it in the late 70s. I was only a kid but that song easily broke through the ambient fuzzy drone of my parents' car radio. My older brother was into hard rock and I had to carry around my love of that track secretly, hidden in my head, thrilled whenever it magically fell from the sky out in the world (I've a clear memory of swooning to it at a kids' rollerskate disco). Fortunately my older brother had enough sense to buy Blondie's tape a few years later, so at least I could listen to plenty of "Call Me". Anyway, I wasn't old enough to buy my own music, I didn't know any names, and those sounds slipped away.

    Decades later, when I read the bit in the Prologue to "Rip It Up" about "I Feel Love" being a revolutionary single in 1977, I played it again and realized with total delight that it was a Rosetta stone for so much of the music I liked, particularly my favorite period of New Order. (Incidentally, despite the obvious lifts/rip-offs from Donna Summer in New Order's early 80s stuff, does the influence go further back? The essay mentions Moroder took apart the drums and recorded them piece by piece to reduce unwanted noise-- didn't Martin Hannett famously do that to Stephen Morris's kit for the recording of "Unknown Pleasures"?) So I love that it's the first essay in the book, even ahead of Kraftwerk. The story around its creation is so goofy and 1970s, especially the astrology stuff.

    Great start to the book! I'm already happily compiling a new list of songs to download.

    1. Also, what a hilarious blurb from Jason Schwartzman.

    2. Yes it's a nice one, isn't it, although then I started to wonder, "why not a hot bath?" (I'm one of those people where a bath has to be near scalding and take you 5 minutes to gingerly lower yourself into). But yeah, a nod from a favorite actor - love it.

  4. I should imagine the "making the drummer record every part of the kit separately" was probably a ruse that occurred to a bunch of producers who wanted absolutely clean sounds to work with.

    I wondered how it worked with drum machines a little later on - was it easier to put different levels of reverb or other FX on each strand of percussion sound? would snares, hi-hats, etc each have their own track in the mixing desk?

    1. The answer to that question probably depends a great deal on whether your name is "Kevin Shields" or not.

  5. I have two books signed by their authors. One is Futuromania. The other is the collected lyrics of Shaun Ryder.

    I hope you can understand why the latter gives me slightly more joy. I bought Futuromania with my own money, but a dear friend got me the Ryder libretti for my birthday. Next time, try being as pretty as her.

    What works would you most want a signed copy? For some reason, Martin Amis' Money sprang into my head.

    1. Did you get one of the one where I go a little goofy? It's a long haul signing 1000 pages, so to keep it interesting I did some "embellished" ones or messed around with the format - signing very small indeed, or doing many signatures, or adding little slogans. For some reason, upside down never occurred me.

      I've never been terribly hung up on the whole 'signed copy' thing or getting autographs - I can't remember every doing it. I mean, if I'd managed to get one of the Monty Python books signed by all of the team, or even just Michael Palin, that would have been a buzz. Something signed by Nabokov, or Roland Barthes, maybe.

      That's an odd, because I'm not that big a fan of Martin Amis. I did like Time's Arrow. The memoir Experience is great. Also The War Against Cliche, his selected literary criticism, has some great stuff.

    2. In the copy I have, the signature trails off drastically, as if you'd had a heart attack or were suddenly and forcefully abducted.

      A prized possession of mine is a copy of Amis' "Experience" which I had him sign "To Nick, fuck off!".

      (In "Experience", Amis recounts his father's tale of an Alsatian which tells him to "fuck off". At the reading I went to, Amis impersonated his father impersonating the dog so perfectly I was nearly brought to tears. As he writes: "Kingsley did one of two things. Either he made the bark sound exactly like fuck off. Or he made fuck off sound exactly like the bark". Amis nailed the delivery. So I had to ask him to sign it that way. He seemed delighted.)

    3. Lovely story.

      Experience is full of wonderful stuff, from the stories about his dad (I always remember the scene when they are in a restaurant and Amis Snr gets into a fight with the waiter about pepper) and Philip Larkin (dad's dearest friend, on visits he would dolefully dole out half-crown coins to the Amis sons, "tipping the boys" being a strange Amis Snr-initiated custom designed to anguish the tightfisted Larkin) to all the stuff about his dental woes.

      Sounds like you got one of the ones where I either tried to speed up the process and dash them off OR develop a kind of dashing, illegible yet distinctively authorial signature, but it just looks I'm using my left arm cos the writing hand's in a plaster cast, or I'm 3 years old.

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