Sunday, November 28, 2010

Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover . . .Or Rather Do?

Soft Targets?

The last two podcasts in the Bodytonic series have both been wonderful. The 97th by one of my
all-time favourite selectors, I-F, the 98th and most recent, by arguably the best up-and-coming house DJ of the moment, Seth Troxler. Two DJs with very different record bags, so you wouldn't really confuse them, would you? Well, Bodytonic suffered, and may still be suffering, some technical hitches this week and so the Troxler download actually went out as the I-F. The commenters on their board didn't seem to be aware of this issue though (check the comments further down the page). Kind of reminds me of the Elliot Eastwick story form when he was resident at Hard Times in the mid-nineties. Once, when guest DJ Duke failed to show, Eastwick crouched down a little bit lower behind the decks, put a baseball hat on the wrong way around, and started banging out some tunes. No one seemed to notice and the crowd even began a chant of "Duke, Duke." After God knows how long, Eastwick took his hat off and came clean, only to be met by a barrage of boos from the unsuspecting and hoodwinked crowd.

I suppose this can serve to highlight a few things. Notably the faceless disposability of this music, something that still exists no matter how much we may try to dress it up. This isn't necessarily a negative characteristic, but it's still the reality. I like it that way, and always will. One look at any photos of The Swedish House Mafia should reinforce this, especially after reading the little write-up of their forthcoming film, 'Take One' in yesterday's Guardian Guide, which describes dance music as fertile ground for the rock cliches used so effectively and humorously in "This Is Spinal Tap." "It shouldn't matter what the DJ looks like, you're supposed to be dancing," (or something like that), quoth A Guy Called Gerald. He's right of course, but certain spinners are in danger of looking more and more ridiculous. I remember an old Tina Turner video, (I think it was her); can't recall the song, just the keyboard parts when the camera focussed on some musclebound chimp using the power of Greyskull just to prod the keys.

DJing is only a spectacle, when the turntablists or similar virtuosos are concerned. No matter how technically proficient the mixing, the trainspotters were always around the box to check the tunes, not the wrist action. As this business becomes ever more sanitised so the artists look blander and blander. David Holmes, upon hearing DBX's 'Losing Control' remarked that it was impossible to have made such a track without being under the influence, then couldn't believe his ears when he heard that Dan Bell didn't dabble. I'm constantly surprised at how underwhelming and physically small and nerdy a lot of DJs are. Those in question have still played wonderfully well but a feeling of not something being missing has always lingered. Maybe that's why The Swedish House Mafia look the way they do. I've never met them, so can't gauge exactly how tall or small they are from their photos, but they're definitely trying to large it in more ways than one. Humphrey Bogart used to insist on being photographed standing on a wooden box; other famous shortarses, like Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone, like Bogart, use their small man syndrome in various ways to ensure they'll be remembered for more than their size, (maybe not too much for their acting though). They say you should never meet your heroes. Maybe not, but at least be aware of their output.

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