Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk
I expected more
|von Nathan Brackett|
As a book on the artists behind techno, Sicko's work is quite good. It is packed with names, dates, albums, tunes, clubs, and so forth, as one would expect from a music journalist. But as a work on techno, the art, I found the book to have some glaring holes. He does not discuss the technology of techno, he does not discuss the techniques developed by techno artists, and he does not really explore the question of what really aesthetically distinguishes techno from other music forms (I would expect a chapter devoted to each subject). But this book did not set out to answer these questions, I don't think -- an indication perhaps that the critical thinking on techno is still in its infancy.
Great on Detroit Techno, so-so on everything else
Dan Sicko deserves credit here for being the first person to attempt to put together a definitive history of techno as a musical genre. Being from Detroit, his strength is his encyclopedic knowledge of the evolution of the techno scene in the Motor City. Although the ultimate relevance of some of the early material about dance parties and such is never adequately explained, Sicko reveals the early development of Detroit techno skillfully and thoroughly.
For some other aspects of the history of techno, perhaps a second book by someone else will be necessary. For one thing, once Sicko reaches the point in his narrative where techno becomes a "world-wide" phenomenon, his survey of its proliferation and evolution is sketchy at best, and misleading and partial at worst. With the exception of some acknowledgment of the seventies techno-pop act Kraftwork, he shortchanges throughout the significant contributions by Germans (e.g., no mention of Sven Vath, Paul van Dyk, or Oliver Lieb, and in his discussion of current and future directions in techno, including offshoots into new musical genres, some unknown artists (undoubtedly of Sicko's acquaintance) are featured prominently, whereas important styles such as trance and progressive house are ignored completely.
He also has difficulty conveying what the music is actually like. I realize that expressing the essence of one artistic medium in terms of another is difficult, but someone who has never heard techno would finish the book with no clearer idea of what "techno" actually is than when he or she started. Exactly what techno fans "listen for" in this music and the role that techno plays within their lives/subculture are also important, but never discussed adequately.
Still, Sicko is a pioneer here, and deserves credit for what he accomplished in this first attempt at a "history of techno."
Good techno backgrounder and reference guide
I ordered this book the moment I got a notification from the Betalounge.com. Techno Rebels gives a historical overview of the origins of techno including detailed descriptions of the major players. Interesting details like pictures of "Techno Boulevard", Inner City's Saunderson (someone's music I always have admired) organizational talent to bring the right people (writers/singers) together to bring techno to the masses (allways thought Kevin did all the writing by himself). Even if you're not much of a reader, the last part of the books gives a reference of influential techno records together with availability info. As these records get re-released it will be fun to dig these songs up again. It's nice to see that someone took up the job to write this book and succeeded very well.
| > Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk|