Geeta Dayal

  • culture May 19, 2011

    Electric Eden by Rob Young

    Rob Young's new cultural history does for English folk music what Alan Lomax and Greil Marcus did for its American counterpart. Arcane and wide-ranging, the book contends with Rudyard Kipling, faeries, and Paradise Lost as much as it does still-influential artists such as Nick Drake and Incredible String band.

    There are countless books on the history of British music in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Consider, for example, the eight hundred-odd books that Amazon currently has about the Beatles, or the numerous volumes chronicling the roots of mod, glam, punk, and post-punk. The veritable mountain of literature on David Bowie alone could take a lifetime to sift through.

    In Electric Eden, Rob Young uncovers a hidden seam of British music, a fascinating tangle of stories that have not been told in great detail. This encyclopedic tome, which weighs in at over 600 pages, grapples with the unwieldy history of

  • culture October 01, 2010

    Listen to This by Alex Ross

    “I hate ‘classical music’: not the thing but the name,” writes Alex Ross in the opening chapter of his new book, Listen to This. “It traps a tenaciously living art in a theme park of the past. It cancels out the possibility that music in the spirit of Beethoven could still be created today . . . [the] phrase is a masterpiece of negative publicity, a tour de force of anti-hype.”

    This collection of Ross’s essays from the New Yorker, where he has been a staff critic since 1996, is a forceful argument for this music’s continued relevance. Though Ross is best known for his writing on classical

  • syllabi March 31, 2010

    Sound and Vision

    Visual art and music are often studied separately, even though seeing and hearing are inexorably linked. What if we could hear the silence in a Vermeer painting? Is it possible to simulate the experience of a certain city by playing its soundscape through loudspeakers in a city on the other side of the world? What would a Brian Eno song look like as a painting? The books listed here examine the myriad connections and convergences between sound and painting, architecture, and film.

    Geeta Dayal is the author of Another Green World, a book about Brian Eno, published in Continuum’s 33 1/3 series

  • Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music

    Music journalism in the mainstream press has been on a downward slide for years. Word counts for reviews are declining across the board, readership is drifting to blogs and other online venues, and downsizing of editorial staff at former strongholds of arts criticism, such as the Village Voice, are making for exceedingly grim times. Few print music magazines allow for the sort of memorable long-form features and lively, perceptive analysis that characterized Rolling Stone and Creem in the ’70s, Melody Maker and NME in the ’80s, and Spin in the early ’90s.

    Academic writing on popular music is