Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Over the weekend I went to Lincoln Center to see DJ Spooky do an audio-visual remix of The Birth Of A Nation, a great idea he couldn’t have executed any less impressively. The visual “remix” comprised geometric computer shapes floating on top of the grainy old film, with no real union between the two. If there was a pattern to the way he reordered scenes, it sure wasn’t evident; selective cutting did nothing more than make the movie’s plot unfollowable. Then the music: a tired set of ambient leaning into hip-hop and bits of jungle, stiff beat-matching that sounded not adventurous but just off, an occasional “harmonica” riff layered in in a totally wrong key. Sitting there, in a 1,000-seat theater, I was really disheartened to realize that this is what “DJ culture” is to people who are likely not very active in seeking it out but interested enough to spend $35 on what by all rights would seem to be a high-profile event. Hats off to Spooky for getting the commission, but man oh man we need a better ambassador.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Here's a review I wrote on Kompakt 100, which I initially hated, then disliked, then got intrigued by, then warmed up to, and then found myself pretty much totally swept up by. In the span of a few weeks it went from a flagging disappointment to a record I can't wait to have heard the 100th, 500th, 1,000th time.

Fuck pronouns and salary freezes and the writers of Six Feet Under and Coke that is not C2 and mugginess and inertia and exposed wires and unsound logic and malaria and music that is not Chicago house (not really) and serifs and the errant radio noise that makes playing ambient CDs while I sleep not only undesirable but also seemingly unhealthy and entrapment and rhetorical ticks and breakfast places that don’t just assume you want coffee and Gaspar Noe and halogen lamps that zziiiinng unless on full and affected accents and yellow legal pads and shoes with tassels and $9 drinks and editors (except for good ones) and unemptied ashtrays and weeds and silver rooftops that make you squint and sketchiness and people who don’t hold doors and pens that aren’t Uniball Micros and book covers that bow and bodies that rot and bills and milk and unbuttoned shirts and small-talk partners too as they say “slow on the uptake” and drive-time playlists and dust and belabored nut grafs and colloidal separation and disaesthetics and chat-room chumminess and creaky fans and veins in chicken wings and and and sentences that don’t get room to stretch out and breathe especially when they shouldn’t.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Here's an interview I did with Michael Mayer and Reinhard Voigt from Kompakt a little while back. It got cut short, and they only started getting really specific on the elevator ride down from their room, but it made me want to go to Cologne to eat and listen and dance.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I’ve been icing my shoulder with an ice pack so deliciously blue that it has 1) an explicit warning not to eat, 2) notice that a “bittering agent” has been added to make gross what might misleadingly appear delicious, and 3) instructions on what to do if/when the ice pack is in fact eaten. And still, I mean, yum!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The record I keep coming back to as of late is Gangsta Boo’s Both Worlds, *69, a Three 6 Mafia-affiliated relic from 2001. Specifically “Mask 2 My Face,” which does a turntable chopsssluurrr thing every minute or so that sounds like whoever did it never heard a single note of turntable music anywhere ever, such are its “here’s what I unprecedentedly cinematically imagined could be done to voices with a turntable while slammed back on cough syrup in streets darker and meaner than any of us should ever know” effects. Then there’s the big dramatic ambient hiss-sigh lingering in the background. It sounds like sweet release curdling in the corner.

This album is full of ear-craning sounds. The rapping too: Crunchy Black’s guest verse in “I Thought U Know” is like Gertrude Stein giving gang signs while Alice does the dishes. “You’re trying to be me, but you can’t be me. You’re trying to see me, but you can’t see me.” I read somewhere that Crunchy Black is still very much a practicing gang-banger, which in a moment of less guarded resistance to and/or more brusque dismissal of questions I have no clear opinion I care to go on record with would admit to finding urgently compelling indeed. He’s very scary-sounding, less for his kill-bite-whatever nihilism than for the barely human strain of his voice, which sounds old and resigned to far worse than he could even imagine in his bug-zapperified brain (which is a lot). Crunchy Black might play jacks with your entrails on the sidewalk, but he wouldn’t even be excited about it.

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