Newsweek: Techno going mainstream

Jim Whitehead (
Wed, 5 Feb 1997 13:34:29 -0800

In this week's Newsweek (February 10, 1997), there is a three page article
titled, "Electronic Eden," which discusses how major record labels are
working to move techno towards the mainstream. Some juciy quotes:

"But if the music business has its way, techno culture will be coming to
your neighborhood soon. And by the time it arrives, rest assured that most
of the danger will have been wiped from it. Shrewd music-business minds
will strip it of its seedy drug roots, add catchy pop choruses and package
it neatly for mass consumption."

"Until fairly recently, the mainstream U.S. record industry left the techno
world to its own devices. But now, after a year of flat sales and poor
showings by big rock acts like Pearl Jam and Hootie & the Blowfish,
executives are desperate for a new big thing. Genres like alternative,
gangsta rap and country, which drove the industry for much of the 90's,
have lost commercial momentum amid a glut of identical-sounding bands. ...
Techno, in all its varied forms, is being touted as a cure. Artists and
executives who scuttled to the alternative-rock bandwagon five years ago
are now stampeding to techno."

"If techno artists really are to sweep the U.S. mainstream, a nifty haircut
will have to lead them. And that haircut belongs to Keith Flint of the
Prodigy. ... The sad thing is, of all the techno acts coming to your
neighborhood, the Prodigy is probably the least interesting. ... When the
Prodigy hits America, audiences will see the strangely disemboweled
remnants of an astonishingly diverse and eccentric movement."

The article does say nice things about Chemical Brothers (mentioning an
upcoming album release April 1, "Dig Your Own Hole"), and Orbital, and
places Aphex Twin on a pedestal so high that Richard James (lead DJ) will
need a parachute to get down.

And just remember, you heard it first on FoRK! ;-)

- Jim