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Listening to the Music the Machines Make - Inventing Electronic Pop 1978 to 1983: Inventing Electronic Pop 1978-1983

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My book has the sub-title ‘Inventing Electronic Pop’ and I’ve chosen to define ‘pop’ as ‘popular’ so in my telling of the story there’s no career without an audience. It then goes on to look in detail at each year and the careers of the bands who emerged, plus occasional context such as the Musicians’ Union being worried about synthesisers, the introduction of CDs and the ‘home taping is killing music’ campaign. I was drawn to this weighty book initially by its title, taken from an Ultravox classic, which I am glad it did as I got into the likes of Heaven 17, Human League, OMD, Tubeway Army/Gary Numan and Kraftwerk (discovering them during this time period) back then. So much of the text feels like it was written by an AI programme that had been fed the contents of the music press from the period in question with little of no colour added by the author.

In the book, Evans spotlights the impact of early innovators such as The Normal, Cabaret Voltaire, Gary Numan, OMD, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode and more, and includes input from Clarke, Mute Records founder Daniel Miller, and Martyn Ware of The Human League, B. I went through all these things, page after page after page and every time I saw something that I attained to this story like a news item, review or interview, I took a photo of it on my phone. Other artists inspired by these authors would include The Normal, Throbbing Gristle, John Foxx, Cabaret Voltaire and Joy Division and therefore their influence on these pioneering artists cannot be ignored.The book kicks off with a chapter on INSPIRATION in 1977, namely the acts that hugely influenced the pioneers of the electronic music genre. It also would have been nice if chapters would have started with a bigger picture as to what was happening with the technological development and the culture along with the specific bands that the author followed. It was also the catalyst for many pop stars of the electronic music genre to start making their own music. Although I enjoyed this I couldn't help thinking the subtitle could have been Reading the Words That Machines Make. The chapter goes on to discuss the importance of the Sex Pistols and similar punk acts that were born out of the revolutionary wave of punk.

There were quite a few artists that I wrestled with myself over whether to include or not and ultimately decided leave out – I’m not going to mention them because that will draw attention to the fact that they’re not in the book – but I don’t think I’ve missed out anyone whose contribution to the story was crucial. I’d invested so much of my myself and spent so much of my money in my teens in their music, that it wasn’t such a big jump to continuing that support of them 10-15-20 years later. Using many sources the author details a month by month evolution of the popular British electronic Music scene starting in 1978. I put together a proposal document for the book which I showed to a friend who works in publishing, and she introduced me to a literary agent who liked the idea of the proposal and agreed to to show it to some publishers.She was reporting the way she was responding to the things she was exposed to and that felt much more interesting and real to me. With a foreword by Vince Clarke and a focus on source material such as the music press and the charts, this is a detailed and thorough exploration of how a number of bands, mainly British, developed their sounds from 1978 - 1983.

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