How to Wreck a Nice Beach by Dave Tompkins (Stop Smiling Books)
A book about the Vocoder, a speech-encoding & decoding device invented by Bell Labs in 1928 to guard phones from codebreakers during World War II. This technology was later adapted and used in various ways and the Vocoder became a tool to multiple generations of musicians (including
arguably being the ‘voice of electro funk’ – one of the sub-genres of early hip hop).
It is not written in the traditional style of music books and the colour photos are mostly illuminating. As well as a diverse cast of characters, it focuses on Afrika Bambaataa (often not given enough light in relation to his contribution to the creation of hip hop) and Rammellzee (who is rarely mentioned in books on hip hop). It is stylistically a breath of fresh air and it highlights the linguistic synchronicities between the language of politics, the military & espionage and early hip hop slang (e.g. Winston Churchill, who boomed, when vocoderised on V-E Day, “We must go off!”)
A fuller section on Autotune would have been a welcome in this newly expanded paperback
edition. It seems that the musical use of Autotune has an equally strange origin: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120309autotune .