Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Simon Reynolds

Simon Reynolds is a music critic whose writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Village Voice, Spin, Rolling Stone, and Artforum.

His latest book is Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past.From the author's Q & A at the Guardian:

How did you come to write Retromania?

One day I realised that there was something strange going on in terms of rock and its relationship to its own past. There were specific things I noticed from the mid-2000s: the popularity of the "don't look back" template, where bands play their iconic album all the way through in sequence, or the multiple simultaneous revivals (80s synth pop, late 70s post-punk, late 60s folk-rock, etc). But it also came from everyday use of the internet: downloading out-of-print albums from file-sharing blogs or trawling through YouTube, and entering a state of atemporality where the past and the present are intermingled and indistinguishable, in an eerie way. But retromania could be good-eerie, as with so much of my favourite music of the 2000s: operators such as Ariel Pink or the Ghost Box label, where the music was all about memory, nostalgia, the past as a haunting.

What was most difficult about it?

The sheer mass of material to deal with. Retro is a culture-wide paradigm and it crops up in fashion, film, design, all over. The book was pulling me in all kinds of directions, towards things I'd never written about before. In the end I focused mostly on music, because that's where retro most alarms and perplexes me. But even there, the potential scope was vast, because many of the syndromes I was investigating could be tracked back a long way into rock history. One of the challenges – and I expect this applies to any kind of broad-range non-fiction – was deciding what...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue