DJ SST and Superdefekt Present…
DJ-Kicks: The Black Edition
get it—the medium is the message, right? Sigh. Mash-up bollocks from A&R; DJs… or should that be ADD-Js?
Songs from all modern clichés and archetypes show up in this off-the-wall but ultimately aimless mix CD. Everything’s in time, everything flows relatively smoothly, and there are sound bytes that are funny… I guess.
Presumably, this is what automated DJing programs will come up with as they digest all known forms and perform Hegelian synthesis to produce something that can’t be empirically proven wrong but lacks the quality of rightness nonetheless. From rap to funky “bad babysitter” music to distorted swaths of metal guitars, the beat is there throughout the CD, but… there is still some kind of error in there.
Are you familiar with the writings of roboticist Masahiro Mori? (That’s an intentional non sequitur, to keep this monograph as jarringly disconnected as the material under review.) Mori conducted experiments to prove that anthropomorphic robots like C3PO or Bender seemed cute or amusing to human test subjects, because although the robots imitated human form, they did so in such a crude way that humans weren’t threatened by them. But when the robot technology approached a certain point—like a photorealistic automaton—humans were repulsed by the androids because they were too close to human, but still not human enough. When Mori mapped this phenomenon on a graph, he dubbed the low point of “70-95% human looking” the Uncanny Valley. Case in point: that Final Fantasy full-length movie.
I’m convinced that this effect can be observed in other forms, not just robots—and this CD is an excellent example. It comes very close to sounding naturally mixed but stops just short—it almost attains the humanity of a smoothly mixed DJ set. It’s like a DJ set mixed by a zombie, or a Neanderthal. A Neanderthal with a very large vinyl collection and a powerful computer, perhaps, but one who still eats mammoth every day for lunch. It’s theoretical DJing.
It ain’t all bad. As an exercise in technique, I suppose it has its redeeming qualities. I have to admit that I did like the creepy Tiga cover version of “Hot In Herre” with a bit of “Wordy Rappinghood” thrown in. Ditto for the dub version of Blur’s “Song 2”. As is true with many albums, if you heard it in a club with a lot of people dancing, it could definitely work. But it’s not worth selling your labor to those who control the means of production in order to purchase this. It’s like mixing jellybeans with assorted nuts and handfuls of pebbles, and putting a bowl of the final product on the dinner table during a party.
Besides, according to unnamed sources, the new version of iTunes will be able to mix tracks together in a similar fashion.
Reviewed by: Francis Henville
Reviewed on: 2004-07-06