In the constant hunt for new perspectives on DJing, recent years have seen the uprising of the mash-up. The recipe is simple – take two tracks which should never, ever be conceptualised together in a million years, add a liberal dose of tweaking and mixing, blend well with a selection of drumbeats and samples, then serve…and let the audience be your judge, jury and executioner. Get it right and you’ll surge above a sea of bland, faceless house remixers and Saturday night club DJs to become somebody truly on the cutting edge. Get it wrong…well, there’s always McDonalds.
Proof as to how difficult it is to get the balance right can be seen from a mere glance at the music business – aside from Scandanavian legends Too Many DJs (AKA Soulwax), no other artist has really broken through on either side of the Atlantic. If his live set from Galapagos is anything to go by, Moldover may just have the talent to become the second…
A self-confessed rocker from Brooklyn, Moldover’s musical background stands out from the off. Where TMD tend to explore punk and 80s cheese, Moldover dabbles far more in American-influenced genres like blues-rock, grunge and soul. There’s no problem in terms of variety either – such risk-taking is essential in the mash-up and songs by the likes of AC-DC, A-Ha, James Brown, NIN and Kermit the Frog show the man has no fear of experimentation. Lying over the top of these are all kinds of samples from TV and film (one such being Bill Hicks legendary ‘It’s just a ride’ speech), just to add a little flavor.
However – does it work?
Technically, yes. This is a man clearly at ease with his decks and with an encyclopedic knowledge of his material – the tracks fit together beautifully, with not a beat out of place or a discordant chord amongst them (though the mix of NIN’s “Closer” and Violent Femmes pushes the envelope to the limit). If a technical criticism was to be levelled at Moldover, then it may be that he hasn’t created a fully seamless set here. Though they work fine as self-contained parts, the jumps from the blues/rock section to soul, then to grunge and then to metal tend to be very obvious (often dropping the music to a background level while the drumbeat subtley adjusts) and you wonder whether Moldover has sidestepped the idea of total continuity a little.
Musically? Mostly. In general, each section holds together very well indeed and there are moments of pure inspiration held within some of them. Before hearing this, I’d never have dreamed of using the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle” in a dance DJ set – now, I can’t believe no-one has ever done it before. In fact, I’d defy anyone to listen to Moldover’s soul/funk section (starting with Prince’s “Kiss” and ending up at a fantastically-reimagined reworking of Nirvana’s “Polly”) without feeling the urge to get up and dance. As for the use of “Back In Black” and the Chilli’s “Give It Away”, they may not be totally unique but every set needs its guaranteed floor-fillers and Moldover uses them to expert effect.
And yet…at other points, you can’t help feeling that Moldover still hasn’t completely pinned down his musical identity and who his audience is. While the set showcases the extent of his talents over different genres and styles, you feel that he needs to just rein them in a little for it to work as a whole and keep the crowd with him from start to finish. Not only that, some of the mixes may be technically excellent but you wonder whether they’d just lose people on the dancefloor. Taking Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” and giving it a drum’n’bass reworking seems a little ‘clever for clever’s sake’ – it may appeal to record producers, but clubgoers of any genre or description? Probably not.
Ok, so DJ Moldover may not be the finished article yet. But there’s more then enough genuine enthusiasm, flair, technical ability and musical originaliity demonstrated here to suggest that what’s needed is just a few tweaks rather then a major overhaul. Genuine talent, ladies and gentlemen, and a worthy listen.
Moldover: “Live At Galapagos” is available to download as an mp3 from http://www.moldover.com/ – alternatively, you can go to the site and order a copy on CD.Powered by Sidelines