Today, HarperCollins Publishers and their Dey Street Books imprint announced the impending arrival of a new book on American EDM culture. Written by highly regarded journalist Michaelangelo Matos, it's called The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America and is due out in March of next year.
We're excited about this book. Matos, a former music editor at L.A. Weekly's sister publication Seattle Weekly and frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, NPR, and another of our sister pubs, the Village Voice, has long been one of the few U.S. music journalists who consistently writes about electronic dance music with intelligence and insight.
Still, we can't help but wonder how many EDM fans, at least here in the U.S., will actually read Matos' book.
Despite long having achieved mainstream acceptance in Europe and elsewhere around the world — with all the critical and journalistic attention that entails — electronic music in America is still viewed largely as a soundtrack for mindless hedonism. Even among fans of the music, serious discussions about EDM's cultural impact are infrequent. Most seem content to argue incessantly over what to call it.
So even though it's long overdue (amazingly, HarperCollins' claim that it's “the first comprehensive history of U.S. electronic dance music” is largely true), Matos' book may face an uphill battle in finding an audience. It's telling that the last great book on this subject, British author Simon Reynolds' 1998 opus Energy Flash (released in the U.S. as Generation Ecstasy), currently sits at #305,485 in Amazon's sales ranks, despite getting a splashy republication just last year.
But we hope we're wrong. EDM desperately needs its Greil Marcus — a combination critic, historian and provocateur who can illuminate the music's deeper meanings (yes, it does have some) and place the cultural shifts that music has engendered in their proper context. And Matos seems like the right guy for the job.
So we'll be pre-ordering our copy of The Underground Is Massive. If you're a fan of electronic dance music, you should, too.