Journalist and author David Stubbs has announced the new book Mars By 1980: The Story Of Electronic Music, which will examine the entire history and evolution of the genre. Over nearly 500 pages, the book charts the history of electronic music from early avant-garde forms such as Italian Futurism and musique concrète into modern day house and techno. It also aims to examine the genre’s shift into mainstream popularity.


Electronic music is now ubiquitous, from mainstream pop hits to the furthest reaches of the avant-garde. The future, a long time coming, finally arrived. But how did we get here?

In Mars by 1980, David Stubbs charts the evolution of electronic music. It is a tale of mavericks and future dreamers overcoming Luddite resistance, malfunctioning devices and sonic mayhem. Its beginnings are in the world of avant-classical composition, but the book also encompasses the cosmic funk of Stevie Wonder, Giorgio Moroder and unforgettable eighties electronic pop from the likes of Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Laurie Anderson, right up to the present day innovators on the underground scene.


Praise for Future Days

‘A weighty and wide-ranging genre history full of mystic moments and insightful analysis.’ Mojo 4*

‘Krautrock’s broad church is detailed and enthused about with skill by Stubbs, a man immersed in the music he adores. It’s informative and full of fantastic interviews – a must for any fans of the man machine.’ Q 4*

‘His book is so well researched and filled with such enthusiasm for its subject that it absorbs from start to finish.’ The Observer

‘Musically literate, historically astute and socially smart appreciation.’ The Times

David Stubbs is a British author and music journalist. Alongside Simon Reynolds, he was one of the co-founders of the Oxford magazine Monitor before going on to join the staff at Melody Maker. He later worked for NME, Uncut, Vox, as well as the Wire. His work has appeared in The Times, Sunday Times, Spin, Guardian, The Quietus and GQ. He has written a number of books, including Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany, a song-by-song profile of Jimi Hendrix and Fear Of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don’t Get Stockhausen, a comparative study of twentieth-century avant-garde music and art. He lives in London.


Look for Mars By 1980 August 2 via Faber & Faber.

Here are some Faber Social favorites featured in the book. Although not sure they are necessarily our favorites:

More on the history of electronic music

The theremin also provided graphic inspiration for James Quail, the designer at Dorothy who worked on the Electric Love Blueprint (about $54). The data-viz project maps out over 200 electronic music innovators, connecting them according to “common link[s]—whether that’s a style, or instrument, or an influence on one another,” Quail says. To organize all that, Quail based the chart on diagram instructions used to build theremins—specifically, on instructions from the mid-1950s. The result is a series of modules and arrows connecting Kraftwerk to Africa Bambaata, Morton Subnotick to Steve Reich, and Brian Eno to Depeche Mode. Don’t expect to emerge a scholar in electronic music; the Dorothy team doesn’t share much context in the way of dates or technical details. Think of this blueprint more like a cheat sheet to a surprisingly historic genre—and a very pretty one at that.