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Avant Rock: Experimental Music from the Beatles to Björk   by Bill Martin  Foreword by Robert Fripp

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ISBN 0-8126-9500-3
$35.00    paper
292 pages
(March 2002)

Avant Rock
Experimental Music from the Beatles to Bjrk

Bill Martin
Foreword by Robert Fripp

In Avant Rock, music writer Bill Martin explores how avant-garde rock emerged from the social and political upheaval of the sixties. He covers the music from its early stages, revealing its influences outside of rock, from musicians such as John Cage and Cecil Taylor, to those more closely related to rock like James Brown and Parliament/ Funkadelic.

Martin follows the development of avant rock through the sixties, when it was accepted into the mainstream, with bands like the later Beatles, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground, King Crimson, and Brian Eno. His narration takes us into the present, with an analysis of contemporary artists who continue to innovate and push the boundaries of rock, such as Stereolab, Mouse on Mars, Sonic Youth, and Jim O'Rourke. Martin critiques the work of all important avant rock bands and individual artists, from the well-known to the more obscure, and provides an annotated discography.

"...Vital and balanced, intellectual but engrossing, this is rock criticism in which to sink one's teeth while shaking one's hips."
—Mike Tribby, Booklist

"An invigorating, broad-minded survey of pop music's experimental fringes . . .

"Martin addresses excellent analysis to a smart selection, including Cecil Taylor Sonic Youth, Jim O'Rourke, John Zorn, Totoise, the New Klezmir Trio, and Game Theory (one of many artist whose chess obsession he discusses). Martin relates their music to parallel developments in philosophy and literature, citing influences from Adorno and Debord to Nahokov and Harry Crews, and manages the neat trick of combining the the sharp personal enthusiasms of underground rock's fanzine culture, with the cooler head of academics explorations, so that the reader perceives why rock enthusiasts have stuck with it all these years . . .

"A trenchant and witty exploration, several cuts above typical surveys written in the wake of the 'alternative' era."
Kirkus Reviews

"A warning to the reader: Watch your wallets, because Bill Martin is very good at what he does. He makes the supposedly esoteric music he covers in Avant Rock sound like so much fun, so full of possibilities, wonder, invention, and mischief, that his readers will want to instantly buy all the albums he writes about so persuasively."
—Greg Kot, ChicagoTribune rock critic

"In the era of the Backstreet Boys and Limp Bizkit, Britney Spears and Eminem, it's unfashionable to talk about the music of ideas—even (or especially) among people who write about popular music for a living. Bill Martin refuses to accept this, and he five into the deep end of what he calls 'avant rock' to write with the insight of a superb critic, the perspective of a scholar, and the passion of a fan."
—Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times rock critic Author of Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs


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