Posts Tagged ‘Turntablism’


June 21, 2011

Let’s Dance on Planet Rock – Cut Chemist & Shortkut from Live at The Future Primitive Sound Session Version 1.1

DJs, by nature, are meant to play in front of a live audience, not having a set tracklist, judging what to play next based on experience, crates full of records, and the vibe of the crowd.  And turntablists take it a step further, creating their own sounds from the records on their decks.  So, the idea of studio turntable records is kind of a funny one in theory.

Maybe realizing that, Bay Area DJ Cut Chemist decided to record his first solo album live with the help of another premier DJ, Shortkut.  According to the interwebs, the two used five turntables as they performed the album live at the Future Primitive in San Francisco.  This cut sits right in the middle of the album and is a highlight among several other tracks.  This makes sense in the overall vibe of a DJ set, as you’ve set up a good groove and then you need something to snap them to attention.

This does the trick!  The track is crammed with all kinds of goodies that make you want you to “dance to the drummer’s beat” as one of the many samples intones at various points throughout the track.  The Newcleus sample in the middle brings a smile to my face, and the nod to Afrika Bambaataa works perfectly too.  A Beastie Boys track circa Paul’s Boutique is in there too, though it took me awhile to catch it.  There’s even some beatboxing.  The scratching here doesn’t overwhelm and doesn’t come off as artistic noodling that I sometimes think scratching sounds like.  The energy doesn’t let up, and thanks to the magic of records, the song ends with a perfunctory clapping of hands, the artists congratulating themselves for a job well done.

The amount of preparation and coordination to put all these pieces together is amazing to think about.   Having seen Cut Chemist perform the “Hard Sell” with DJ Shadow, it is really phenomenal to see these artists live, and this track and this record in general are a really good second best if you can’t catch them live.  Either way, this will get you dancing.

Exhibit A

August 31, 2010

Entropy (Part A – The Third Decade, Our Move) – DJ Shadow from Solesides Greatest Bumps

This song comes from the 17 minute Entropy piece that DJ Shadow created in the years before the classic Endtroducing. On that album, he would perfect a complex, layered approach to his DJ craft; this song hints at what was to come.  A voice sample and rolling cymbals introduces Mr. Davis.  Then the beat kicks in, a sweet snare and cymbal combo.  Vocal samples come and go (discussing the merits of “rappin”),  a horn sample comes in (right before a sample of a guy saying “he did what the kids call sampling”), scratches flit around the edges of the song, later becoming more pronounced and anchoring the middle of the song.  This definitely has more of a “party” vibe than much of the stuff on Endtroducing, the drum samples alone want you to get off your seat and dance, whereas a lot of the Endtroducing stuff has a more laid back tone (you still say, that’s a killer beat, but you’re willing to just sit back and enjoy it).  Or at least that’s how I see it.  Youtube link to the song: