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DJ Spooky: Celestial Mechanix

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You ever have one of those dreams where you’re walkin’ around in the fog? Outside? Fog. Inside? Fog. I figure it my brain’s attempt at simulating my current state of confusion and/or emotional claustrophobia.

Very often the fog will only occur during the “connecting segments” of the dream. In the transition between the scene where I’m waiting at city hall to place my vote in the all-important meter maid election and the just-scratched-my-Bentley’s-paintjob vignette…I’m walking down a tree-lined suburban street so choked with fog that the streetlights are almost completely obscured. During this walk I become aware of bits of conversation emanating from the front windows of the homes I’m passing. The fog is of course damping the sound, so I can’t quite place what I’m hearing: a cry of anguish or of sexual joy, a slammed door or a gunshot, a ringing telephone or a doorbell.

I’ve come to think of the electro portion of the electro-acoustic music that comprises Thirsty Ear’s Blues Series as the soundtrack for my foggy dream sequence. But Celestial Mechanix, DJ Spooky’s remix project, is a foggy dream sequence of its own.

Using the entire Blues Series (which is up to 30 releases) as source material, DJ Spooky has created his own interpretation of that unique body of work. The groove is deep and is punctuated by looped and twisted up phrases pulled from their musical origins. A repeated William Parker bassline becomes magnified when given this treatment. And isn’t there something slightly recursive about a looped Even Parker phrase? It all contributes to a fiercely funky listening experience…that somehow echoes Miles’ In A Silent Way, a few Bill Laswell projects and maybe even some Arto Lindsay.

Disc two of the collection contains an 80-minute club mix of the Blues Series material. This is how DJ Spooky would spin this stuff in a club setting. Not as weird as the remixes but still compelling (and kinda makes me wish I had one of those kidney-shakin’ subwoofers in my car.)

When I woke up it occurred to me that I was more concerned about the “mystery sounds” coming from the fog than the actual stories being presented to me by my brain.

Hmmm…maybe that dream made sense after all.

(First posted on Mark Is Cranky)

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About Mark Saleski

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    I didn’t even know this was out yet, Mark, so thanks! I ran out and got a copy at lunch. Great stuff – much less dense than Spooky’s Optometry (which I do enjoy a lot – I just have to be prepared for it, I guess you’d say.) Have you heard his Dubtometry yet? I saw that and almost bought it, but I’m not sure what the consensus is on it.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i haven’t heard Dubtometry yet but it’s definitely on my list.

    luv this stuff!

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/amillionmonkeys Robert Mentzer

    I actually *preferred* Dubtometry, but be warned, it is a messy, chaotic record. But in a good way! It has a great rap track with J-Live, “narrations” by Lee Scratch Perry (sample puzzling narration: “God is a monkey/ I used to ride on a donkey”).

    Nice piece on Celestial Mechanix above!