Shake the City: Experiments in Space and Time, Music and Crisis

What is the relationship between music and radical social change? This book explores their confounding and exciting interrelations in original and engaging ways.

Beginning with how capitalism and empire have progressively twisted and atomized our aurally aesthetic experiences over the past century, Alexander Billet examines how social struggles and mass protests challenge the isolation and commodification of music, a challenge which can, in turn, suggest visions of a life lived collectively and on our own terms.

Part manifesto, part theoretical exegesis, part love letter to human creativity, Shake the City is a rigorous and poetic plea for our world to be as musical as we deserve it to be.

“This is a book about how music is used to teach conformism, from muzak, through gentrification, to the isolation of our earbud world. And it is a book about how artists have rebelled, raging against racists and authoritarians, and fighting to remake musical forms. You’ll find on Alexander Billet’s pages a dazzling array of characters, from Erik Satie and the clubbers of the 1980s rave scene, to Skepta and Lethal Bizzle, by way of the Ramones. Read, resist, and make music ours once more.” — David Renton, author of Never Again: Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League, 1976-82 (Routledge, 2018).

“For Billet, music brings people together so it is possible to imagine a utopian future collectively. His belief that this form of imagining is not only pleasurable but essential to human survival suffuses the whole book, making for a dynamic and engaging read… a welcome addition to existing writing on music and politics.” — Kate Bradley,

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