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How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from…

How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop, The…

by Dave Tompkins

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Great fun. ( )
  chriszodrow | Jun 23, 2013 |
Fascinating crossover between conservative WW2 and Cold War history and flaky (even "degenerate" :-) late 20th century music making. It shows the enourmous connectivity inside the electronic music world, though towards the end it starts to feel like the author wanted to include (and thus preserve) *all* of his interview notes, it gets kind of fragmented. ( )
  eichin | May 10, 2013 |
What the funk? This is a brilliant concept for a book, turned into an unedited collection of incomprehensible (unless you already know a lot about funk and early hip hop, not to mention a lot about voice synthesis!) vignettes, gonzo recollections, interviews, and histories. There's a lot of great stuff in here, and Tompkins had incredible sources and insights into how the encryption tool turned into a pop music tool. But I think that this would make a vastly better film documentary, or interactive web site, than book, particularly for an audience that's not nearly as culture-aware as Tompkins is. ( )
  Harlan879 | Nov 25, 2010 |
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"This is the story of how a military device became the robot voice of hip-hop and pop music. Though the vocoder, invented by Bell Labs in 1928, was designed to guard phones from eavesdroppers, it expanded beyond its original purpose and has since become widely used as a voice-altering tool for musicians. It has served both the Pentagon and the roller rink, a double agent of pop and espionage. In How to Wreck a Nice Beach{u2014}from a mis-hearing of the vocoder-rendered phrase "how to recognize speech"{u2014}music journalist Dave Tompkins traces the history of electronic voices from Nazi research labs to Stalin's gulags, from the 1939 World's Fair to Hiroshima, from Manhattan nightclubs to the Muppets. The result is an amazing chronicle of postwar music and culture, filled with unexpected and surprising encounters. We see the vocoder brush up against FDR, Solzhenitsyn, Stanley Kubrick, Stevie Wonder, JFK, Eisenhower, Neil Young, Kanye West, the Cylons, Walt Disney, Henry Kissinger, and Winston Churchill, who boomed, when vocoderized on V-E Day, "We must go off!" And now the device is a cell phone standard, allowing your voice to sound human. From T-Mobile to T-Pain, How to Wreck a Nice Beach is a riveting saga of technology and culture, illuminating the work of some of music's most provocative innovators."--Publisher description.… (more)

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