I often joke on this blog that the vintage and vintage sounding pro-audio equipment is actually helping me build a time machine to the 80s. While I’m in love with modern times (internet, iPads) I hold the 80s in high regard as the decade man decided to come to the future. The electronic music scene was full of originality. Most of the bands I listened to in 1987 sounded quite different from each other. Of course this must have to do with my age. Or is it something else? Simon Reynolds new book Retromania which will be released on July 19th holds a mirror up to society and asks if we have run out of ideas. Do you think we have?

“We live in a pop age gone loco for retro and crazy for commemoration. Band re-formations and reunion tours, expanded reissues of classic albums and outtake-crammed box sets, remakes and sequels, tribute albums and mash-ups . . . But what happens when we run out of past? Are we heading toward a sort of culturalecological catastrophe where the archival stream of pop history has been exhausted?

Simon Reynolds, one of the finest music writers of his generation, argues that we have indeed reached a tipping point, and that although earlier eras had their own obsessions with antiquity—the Renaissance with its admiration for Roman and Greek classicism, the Gothic movement’s invocations of medievalism—never has there been a society so obsessed with the cultural artifacts of its own immediate past. Retromania is the first book to examine the retro industry and ask the question: Is this retromania a death knell for any originality and distinctiveness of our own?”

For more info: Retromania at

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

8 thoughts on “Retromania”

  1. I want to buy this book. Doesn’t seem like there is even a demand for new ideas anymore… but I am guilty of that sometimes.

  2. Our fascination with all things vintage is wonderful and shows how we come to appreciate past creations/styles. There is a seamless flow of ideas from one generation to the next that we continually borrow and re-interpret. If you are connected to your environment and at peace than new ideas will always emerge. Can’t wait to see all the emergent properties of this wonderful, interdependent system of human emotion and art.

  3. interesting – the only thing that offends me retro wise is the constant rehashing of 80’s (shit) pop around these days.

    Simon Reynolds is good – ‘Energy Flash’ is a great book

  4. I do feel we’re in a bit of a lull time musically. Much like the early 60s or late 70s it feels like the next whatever hasn’t yet arrived and hence the focusing on the past. Hopefully whatever “it” is will show up before too long.

  5. I just saw the new Woody Alan movie Midnight in Paris… it sort of touches on the theme that you always think the decade before you or the past is the better era… interesting.

  6. Of course, I also remember hearing back in the 80s how it’d all been done and 80s music was nothing but rehashed 60-style pop with mild electronic and world influences. “More fashion than music” seemed to be the mantra. I wonder what’s happening now that will seem so cool in the future? Laptronica? The resurgence in modular synths (they’re kind of having a golden age now), or maybe all the hip downtempo stuff like Thievery Corp?

  7. Prabably anything that happens at any given present at any given time seems like a cheap redo of the past, because memories are still fresh and it is easy to tell what has been taken over. But as people live, certain sounds (talking in terms of music) are charged with their memories of the time. So even if you don’t like a certain style of music, when you hear it later, it brings back the good memories, while new music is not able to do this, as it still has to be charged. That makes old things appear much more powerful than the old.
    In the ninetees that was probably the case with trance. A lot of people thought it sucked… cheep Arpeggiators on crappy synth, but if you listen to it now, you feel 15 years younger.

    Maybe that is some of what is happening now:

    Cheers Philipp

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