“An exhaustive, widely researched, lovingly written book about the mythic roots of folk music originating in the UK... Beautifully panoramic in scope.” — Suzanne Vega
Rob Young was born in Bristol in 1968. He has worked as a music writer and editor since 1993, when he joined the staff of The Wire magazine. He was Editor between 2000-04 and continues as a co-owner, contributor and editorial member. He regularly presents The Wire's 'Adventures in Modern Music' on Resonance 104.4 FM, and edited the collections of Wire articles, 'Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music' (Continuum 2002) and 'The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music' (Verso 2009). He also wrote the first two in Black Dog Publishing's Labels Unlimited series of illustrated record company biographies: 'Warp' (2005) and 'Rough Trade' (2006). His latest book is a 650-page history of folk music and the British imagination, from the late 19th century to the present...
“Rob Young’s ambitious Electric Eden presents a flip side to the well-known story of the evolution of electric rock in Britain in the 1960s, a story of the rediscovery of England’s native folk music in the early 20th century by the likes of William Morris and Cecil Sharp, who went from town to town recording and notating the music that would hold great sway with those musicians who became associated with England’s less loud, more earthy music—the likes of Vashti Bunyan, Davy Graham, The Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, and many others would each deploy traditional folk music to their own ends in various recombinant ways, writing new songs laced with the idealism of the exploding sixties youth culture, while paying homage to the spirit and traditions of old. Eventually the tide of this music swelled to inspire some of the most influential names in electric rock, from the Beatles and Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin and David Bowie. Thoroughly researched and well written, this book uncovers the secret history of British popular music in the sixties and beyond. Highly recommended.” — Lee Ranaldo, Sonic Youth
“Encyclopedic and often mesmerizing... [Electric Eden] creates its own sort of timeless music.” — Tom Nolan, San Francisco Chronicle
“Rob Young has written such a richly detailed, evocative, and readable account of Britain’s fascination with folk music that it’s hard to believe it exists. Electric Eden begins modestly as an account of folk rock in the sixties and seventies, and soon is sweeping boldly through time, turning up an alternative and often darker history of England, and subtly undermining the received wisdom on tradition, nostalgia, pop song, and high modernist theories of culture. Those who care about American music have much to learn from this book.” — John Szwed, author of Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World
“Rob Young’s theme—the visionary instinct—allows him to treat British music of the 20th Century as a continuous narrative rather than one that begins or ends with rock music. As such, Electric Eden deserves to be shelved next to Alex Ross’s The Rest Is Noise.” — Wesley Stace, author of Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer
“The author is blissfully quotable... These lines about the early years of the British psychedelic movement are so terrific that they contain the seeds of a sour, funny, lovely Philip Larkin-ish poem... Electric Eden is a lucid and patriotic guided tour, as vigorous as one of Heathcliff’s strolls across the moors... [Young’s] book throws plenty of lightning, and it will have you scrambling to download some of the music that’s filling his head.” — Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“I’m currently on my sixth album purchase because of this book. The guy should be getting a kickback from Amazon, he really should.” — Robin Turner, Caught by the River
“Hugely ambitious... A thoroughly enjoyable read and likely to remain the best-written overview [of the modern British folk phenomenon] for a long time... I’ve already made several precious musical discoveries thanks to this book and I expect to make more.” — Michel Faber, Guardian Book of the Week
“Young’s grasp of context is enviable, his knowledge encyclopedic... Electric Eden constructs a new mythography out of old threads, making antiquity glow with an eerie hue.” — Peter Murphy, Sunday Business Post
“Stunning... The thread of mapping modern instruments on to traditional folk tunes leads Young from Peter Warlock to Bert Jansch, Steeleye Span and the Aphex Twin, via the bucolic psychedelia of the Incredible String Band, the Beatles and Pink Floyd. This is no easy path to navigate but Young rarely wavers.” — Bob Stanley, Sunday Times
“A comprehensive and absorbing exploration of Britain's folk music, which serves, too, as a robust defence of the genre... Folk, be it traditional, mystical, mythical, radical or experimental, is a living, breathing form, Young believes. It is everywhere, in all the music we hear, in every song we sing. Electric Eden defies you to disagree.” — Dan Cairns, Sunday Times
“Electric Eden is a stunning achievement.” — Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up and Start Again
Faber and Faber; ISBN-10: 0571237525, ISBN-13: 978-0571237524.
More information here, here and here.
Sunday, 5 June 2011
"In the past two years, the concept of ‘hauntology’ has emerged as a name for the zeitgeist. The shades of the past become more vivid than anything turned up by the present. The spirit of the times is itself spectral. Faced with the apparent triumph of global Capital and the collapse of cultural innovation, artists and critics impatient with postmodern culture’s ‘nostalgia mode’ are forced back to a time before the End of History.
They engage in mourning and melancholia for what has disappeared and what never came to be. Everyday life becomes ghostly… a saturated culture is unable to forget that things were not always like this. Coined by Derrida in his Spectres Of Marx, ‘hauntology’ now has an unlife of its own. It is in relation to sound, in particular, that ‘hauntology’ has gained its second – or should that be third life.
Recent releases by Burial, the Ghost Box label, Mordant Music, The Caretaker, Philip Jeck, Gavin Bryars and Chris Watson have in their different ways exemplified a hauntological sensibility. The revival of attention upon the post-vinyl status of groups like Joy Division, The Gang of Four, The Fall etc. presents a parallel narrative that conditions development in the present.
This May 12 event will be the first to deal with the relation between sound and hauntology, and will focus in particular on the role of space in generating hauntological effects. Why do certain places retain the traces of past sonic events? Why is so much hauntological music tied up with particular spaces? What has the disappearance of the concept of public space to do with hauntology?
The day will be divided into afternoon and evening sessions. The afternoon will be devoted to theoretical explorations of sonic hauntology, with presentations by Mark Fisher (The Wire, k-punk weblog), Jon Wozencroft (Touch, Royal College of Art), Paul Devereux (author, researcher into Archaeoacoustics, Royal College of Art), and Steve Goodman, better known as Kode9 (University of East London). The evening will be given over to performances and interventions, with The Caretaker, Kode9 and The Spaceape and Philip Jeck headlining".
More information here, here and here.
'Atmospheres 2: Hauntology Now' took place at The Museum of Garden History in London, from May 8th to May 12th 2008, with an introductory talk on March 13th (Royal College of Art, Jay Mews, London SW1). You can read a review of the 2nd night here.