Electro Shock! Groundbreakers of Synth Music

Electro Shock! Groundbreakers of Synth Music

by Greg Rule

Miller Freeman

Greg Rule, an associate editor at Keyboard Magazine , has thoughtfully compiled this collection of interviews, with an astonishing (and enjoyable) array of electronic artists/pioneers. Bands in the interrogation chamber include Erasure, Nine Inch Nails, Aphex Twin, and Depeche Mode, alongside producers William Orbit and Mark Bell and even House luminaries Frankie Knuckles and Armand Van Helden.

I give high marks to Rule’s interviewing techniques, he definitely does his homework, even though some of his questions are a bit too tech-geek-buddy-buddy (“So you use the Nord Lead? Ace! The Nord is revolutionizing analogue… blah blah blah”). Each artist is interviewed by Rule and then the artist picks their favorite piece of gear, which is given an in-depth review by other Keyboard people. Entertaining and educational!

The best interview is Nine Inch Nails, taking place right before the David Bowie tour of a couple years back. Say what you will, Reznor’s a witty bastard. My personal favorite interview is Vince Clark of Erasure, who comes off as a tech-fascist! He doesn’t even play keyboards anymore! Bell reveals that engineers and musicians in the studio with him are fined if they say the words “midi,” “digital,” or “sampling!” Who’s the man? Aphex Twin and Bjork give typically impenetrable interviews, and the House pioneers finally get some overdue respect as sound manipulators. The only awkward bit is the article on Madonna Wayne Gacy of Marilyn Manson, but I suppose that’s a matter of personal taste, and Rule does seem to be asking his questions through gritted teeth.

Overall, worthwhile for both the pop-culture freak and the aspiring gearhead.

Miller Freeman Books, 600 Harrison St., San Francisco, CA 94107; http://www.millerfreeman.com/

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