Friday, April 07, 2006

New Strategies

Let’s just get one thing straight right now: DJ Spooky, aka Paul D. Miller, is one of the coolest performers working the music scene today. He's so cool that when my very generous friend asked me if I wanted to get on the list for Thursday's show, I wrote 'yes,please' and hit reply without giving it a second thought. For that reason, it would only make sense for DJ Spooky's musically inclined friends to be as cool as he is. So when he gathered a handful of these friends on stage last night at Symphony Space, it was hard not to feel cool yourself, even if you were sitting on the sidelines.
DJ Spooky, the curator of the event, introduced himself as the host, of a loft-like party, set on stage, presenting a live mix tape in which a few of his favorite musicians performed.
All musicians performed solo pieces that presented groundbreaking, multi-cultural innovations that combined digital media with old, acoustic and analog media. This reformulation of the old into the new included: Matthew Shipp, a pianist in the traditional sense yet using unconventional modes of composition; Vijay Iyer, another pianist, whose accompanying laptop composed minimalist pieces in the vein of Philip Glass; Guillermo E. Brown, who did a bunch of technical acts with a dub system that I’m still struggling to comprehend; Ben Neill, with a trumpet/laptop combination that would have impressed the progressive side of Miles Davis; Rob Swift, whose last name aptly sums up his Grandmaster Flash inspired DJ style of spinning break beats; Pamela Z, presenting the most eclectic combination of operatic vocals with a dance/laptop synthesis and effects pedals; and, finally, Suphala, with, of all things, the tabla, in combination with an iPod. Oh, and DJ Spooky performed, too, although it did seem for him to be a challenge to translate his usual club vibe to a stationary audience on the Upper West Side. For the record, DJ Spooky is much cooler when he's playing music than when he's lecturing. For the encore, everybody arrived on stage to perform together and the effect was nothing less than spectacular.
I’d never seen anything like what these musicians presented last night and I was thoroughly impressed, if not blown away, by the ease at which each performer managed to bring together a 21st Century update on old style instruments. As DJ Spooky so elegantly said, in between as many verbal prods at Bush as he could muster, the presentation was a practice in collaboration versus conflict. It was all about using new media to ones advantage, as opposed to struggling against technology.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why didn't you take me!?!? You know I have no life!

your friend(i thought),
Kelley Anne

8:25 PM  
Blogger ultrafknbd said...

Funny, I just be reading ‘bout the Shadow in the latest Rock @ Rap Confidential. They be talking about Entroducing (old '96/97 spins):

It’s all like a stained-glass window, in which the multitude of small pieces come across as a seamless whole. Not to be missed are DJ Shadow’s liner notes – mediations on music and mortality surrounded by a sprawling love letter to hip-hop culture.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Franny said...

Toby Shuster, of Nashville/Seattle/New York, I just wanted to let you know that tonight, I googled your name and "alongthoselines" popped up, right after the Bed and Breakfast.


1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey little one, good luck in your interview tomorrow!

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Oh, Toby, you are SO out of the music loop. Not! This is only reinforcing the idea that I know nothing about music, because I have no idea what this blog is about.
(I mean, I understand it, I'm not retarded, but I don't listen to this stuff.)

9:20 AM  

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