Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Contemporary Sonic Interloper

“The thing that both Herc and Jones did was release the music on the record from linear and temporal constraints. But Herc, Flash felt, was sloppy. The break went around, but it never came back on beat because Herc was dropping the needle all over the place. Flash saw Pete ‘DJ’ Jones seamlessly extending disco records by mixing two copies of the same record, and realized he could apply the same technique to the music he really loved—the breaks Herc was spinning. Flash wanted to lift these slices of recorded time out of the progression of time, to re-enclose a song’s break in a perfect new loop.”
- Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

In the beginning, Hip-Hop DJs dealt in smooth transitions, looped breaks, and unexpectedly delightful musical pairings. Sadly, this legacy of erasing music’s temporal constraints has been forgotten. Today, overdubbed shout-outs of record labels, rap partnerships, and even dates are all-too-common. The contemporary DJ has abandoned euphony for dissonance, swapping the skills of subtlety for the pure artifice of self-promotion.

The “added value” of a DJ’s performance on a mixtape, the radio, or in person now amounts to little more than a haphazard, disorienting assortment of sirens, airhorns, and gun-shots. While I will admit that nothing gets me pumped quite like the complexity of a high-fidelity gunshot (shell casings trickling to the floor have an especially bone-chilling effect), these sounds are surely a sign that the DJ is no longer the smooth operator he once was. He has become a frustrating interloper. A trigger-happy bullhorn-blaster.

And yet, the interruption and casual defacement that has become the currency of the mixtape game has also become an art form unto itself. Below, please find a couple of these DJ noises for your enjoyment. My hope is that by extracting these jarring, ephemeral disruptions from their background beats, they too can become…timeless.

Readers are encouraged to pass along their favorite DJ noises to be posted at TYHIVN!

1 comment:

Joe said...

"Yell and gunshot" could be the hottest ringtone of 2k8.