[PREV - LIMITED] [TOP]
July 3, 2004
Do DJs really do much of anything?
mixes often sound
So, there's no
point in carefully
arranging a sequence
of music, right?
As a counter-argument,
I point at my mistakes.
Every now and then I do
something so completely
bone-headed, I think it
demonstrates what's going
on when working with a
more hollow skull.
An intersession fill-in
show I did recently was
following a relatively
show (the DJ on before
me was lamenting that
"Slow Dive" wasn't more
widely recognized). She It's not one I was
ended her show with one familiar with, so I
of the slower, poppier presume it was
Velvet Underground something like a CD
tracks. It struck me as bonus track that
a great closing track; the youngsters grew
you could go almost up with and that I
anywhere from there. didn't.
I got on the mic, did
a few tentative
and introduced my
first track, then hit
I was going for X-tal's
"Good Luck", off the Myself, I'm inclined to
album of the same lament that X-tal was
name... never more widely recognized.
It turns out I'd Perhaps it was not the
neglected to advance best strategy to do
the CD player from sincere lyrics about
track 1, so that's the futility of
what I got: "Stating the idealistic endeavors,
Obvious Again". in the midst of the
early 90s quirky irony
Both of these are
great tracks, by You had to *be*
a great band. futile, not just
sing about it.
The one I was going for was
a slower, more downbeat track, POETS
the one I got has a fast,
upbeat, bouncy quality.
This has to be one of the *worst*
segues I've ever inflicted on the
world. Listening to it again
weeks later, I still wince at it.
Let's consider another one, from
a show I did a few years ago.
I decided to play the second release from
"Maybe Monday", a really impressive trio
of creative musicians: Fred Frith, Miya
Masaoka and Larry Ochs. I really liked
their first release, which has a
droney atmospheric quality, a step in the
direction of industrial ambient which is
unusual for these performers (and the Bay Really,
Area Improv scene they're associated it's not
with). clear what
the "Bay Area
The second release had come out Improv Scene"
recently, so that's what I was going is really
to play. But I'd only listened to it called.
once or twice, and I had the sound of
of the first CD lodged in my brain, and IMP_PERVERSE
I put it in the mix where I wanted a
droney, ambient sound.
Make no mistake, the second release is
an excellent CD, but it's sound is totally
different. It focuses a lot on Fred Frith
doing a more extreme, noisey guitar. The trouble with
Playing a great track, by some musicians is that
great musicians, at the wrong they can do everything
time, in the wrong context and want to do everything.
produced a truly horrendous
segue. You never know what
you're going to get
Oh well, that's what I get
for not being more familiar They never produce
with the material I'm working "reliable product".
Sometime later, I played these
tapes for some people at
Burning Man one morning. The camp next door
to us had an excellent
The relatively soft, sound system, but
restrained music in this little in the way of
mix was going over pretty taste (I think their
well with the folks in concept was to provide
my camp at any rate. a platform for different
DJs, without making any
I was watching the setlist effort at quality control).
with the cassettes. I would
take the volume down on tracks So I volunteered to go
I thought would seem too harsh next door and "spin"
for the early morning. some cassettes I had
When the "Maybe Monday"
track was coming up, The people wandering
I decided to take a break home from the dance
and run next door to get party up the street
something to drink. I thought were giving me some
vaguely "Ah, the Maybe Monday funny looks, standing
will be a good track I won't on top of a shipping
need to watch the volume on." container, holding
a bright red and gold
Then Fred Frith's warped, noisey Balinese parasol to
guitar kicked in... I was suckered keep the morning sun
a *second* time, by the same track, off while I was manning
in the same context. I couldn't the sound system.
get the sound of the first Maybe
Monday release out of my head.
A friend in our camp went:
"Joe, joe... tell me that this
isn't your show!"
So, I headed back over to
deal with it (kill the volume,
maybe advance the tape), but
they already had the hook out.
A fellow in a green
shaggy mohawk -- fighting
who knows what kind of
hangover -- was sullenly
getting out his records,
mumbling things under his
breath about how that guy
needed guitar lessons. If you know anything
at all about Fred
Frith, you know how
funny that is.
Have you ever seen
the Andrew Goldsworthy I'd argue that he's
documentary, "River the greatest living
and Tides"? That's guitar player.
a Fred Frith soundtrack.
I saw him do a solo
If I'd played anything performance at the
off of that soundtrack, old Beanbenders in the
I guarantee it would mid 90s, and his
have gone over well. control of extended
technique was an
And if I'd led up absolute revelation.
to the Fred Frith
track that I did I'd seen people mess
play a little with the tuning pegs
differently, let's while playing, but
say Jimi Hendrix, Frith could do that
Sharkbait, then and end up on a note.
Maybe Monday --
I bet that would've A few weird wah-wah
going over well sounds, and the guitar
also... or at least was still in tune,
a lot better than just tuned differently.
A friend's comment:
"I don't know if
this makes me feel
like studying the
guitar, or just
giving up on the
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