How to Wreck a Nice Beach The Vocoder from World War 2 to Hip Hop the Machine Speaks

Author(s): Dave Tompkins

noise / industrial / experimental

This is the fascinating and wonderfully quirky story of how a military device became the voice of hip hop and pop music. Though the vocoder - invented by Bell Labs in 1928 - was designed to guard phones from eavesdroppers, it is now widely used as a voice-altering tool for musicians. How To Wreck A Nice Beach is born from a mis-hearing of the vocoder-rendered phrase 'how to recognise speech.' 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 nightclubs to Muppets.


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"It's unquestionably brilliant, not only one of the best music books of the year, but also one of the best music books ever written."
--"Los Angeles Times"
"Dave Tompkins is seven steps ahead of science and several leagues outside of time."
--Sasha Frere-Jones, Pop Music Critic, "The New Yorker"
"The best hip hop writer ever born."
--Jeff Chang, author of "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation," winner of the American Book Award
"One of the most bugged, brilliant guys I know."
--Oliver Wang, NPR music critic
"No one knows more about the vocoder than Dave Tompkins, not even the dude who invented it. [A]n awesome book about the vocoder and its cultural impact... read it immediately."
"--The Fader"
""How to Wreck a Nice Beach" is much more than a labor of love: It's an intergalactic vision quest fueled by several thousand gallons of high-octane spiritual-intellectual lust. Outside of, say, William Vollmann, it's h

General Fields

  • : 9781612190921
  • : Melville House Publishing
  • : Melville House Publishing
  • : December 2011
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Dave Tompkins
  • : P
  • : 1111
  • : 350