DJ Spooky e` Paul Miller, un disc jockey di Washington, trasferitosi
a Manhattan nel 1992, che divenne uno dei portavoce del movimento "illbient"
(non solo nella musica, ma anche come scrittore e artista visivo).
Songs Of A Dead Dreamer (Asphodel, 1996)
fu l'album che lo impose, un esercizio
altamente intellettuale di musica costruita a tavolino.
Le sue composizioni elettroniche esplorano gli interstizi di generi come
ambient, dub, electronica, trip hop, drum'n'bass, usando la fantasia
diabolica di un Morton Subotnick.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)
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DJ Spooky is Paul Miller, a Washington disc jockey, who moved to
Manhattan in 1992, and soon became one of the spokespersons
for the "illbient" movement
(not only in music, but also as writer and visual artist).
Songs Of A Dead Dreamer (Asphodel, 1996)
was the work that established him, a highly intellectual essay of studio
music. His electronic compositions explore the least visited interstices
of genres such as
ambient, dub, electronica, trip hop, drum'n'bass.
Spooky represents a generation of disc jockeys who have overcome the limits
of their profession and are becoming music makers as erudite as avantgarde
composers. In these tracks Spooky often displays the diabolic imagination of a
So much so that the album opens with abstract sonic vignettes of
aquatic ambient music that shows little or no dance appeal.
Things start warming up with the Galactic Funk, whose ouverture is
actually a booming dub pattern seasoned with kosmische electronica and a loop
of funky guitar, before the upbeat funky theme and the sensual vocal samples
The rest of the album never gets more physical than this. On the contrary,
rhythm is almost always one of the hypnotic elements of a trance-like piece.
whether drenched in sci-fi sounds (Hologrammic Dub, Grapheme,
The Terran Invasion Of Alpha Centauri Year 2794)
Abstract compositions continuously break the pace
(Juba's heavily distorted cosmic electronica and exotic coda,
Nihilismus Dub's chaotic drumming, psychedelic reverbs and
and restore a futuristic vision over the earthly urge to dance.
To cap Spooky's experimental ambition,
the 11-minute Anansi Abstrakt blends a multitude of sources and then
deconstructs the flow into a mechanical, metronomic signal.
Spooky's album set a milestone because it transcended the genre and created
austere, chamber music where there used to be only trivial dance grooves.
Necropolis (Knitting Factory, 1996) is an infinitely minor work in
Miller's career, a mere manipulation of other musicians' tracks, a sexy
exhibition of his musical metabolism for the sake of exhibitionism.
Death In Light Of The Phonograph (Asphodel, 1997) is the soundtrack
to a multimedia installation.
Gli EP Galactic Funk (1996)
e Synthetic Fury (Asphodel, 1998)
sono folli collage di detriti sonori che arrivano da Stockhausen come da
Zappa, da Miles Davis come dai Sonic Youth, dal funk come dal reggae.
Riddim Warfare (Outpost, 1998) ha messo a punto uno stile impressionante.
I brani valgono piu` come cataloghi di effetti elettronici che come canzoni.
Il collage di Synchronic Disjects non ha nulla da invidiare ai capolavori
dell'avanguardia. La muzak semi-orchestrale di Peace In Zaire si
riallaccia idealmente alla Virgin Forest dei Fugs e alle sceneggiate
demenziali di Kid Creole (e alla Summertime dei Sublime).
E peccato che Miller non osi approfondire le intuizioni di
interludi strumentali come Roman Planetaire (jazzato) e
Theme Of The Drunken Sailor (reggae), o la stessa ouverture aliena
Nelle sue mani il drum'n'bass diventa una sorta di sinfonia elettronica
arrangiata dai Neu come Post-human Sophistry,
o un vortice di poliritmi siderali come Riddim Warfare,
o una sorta di suite psichedelica come A Conversation e
Polyphony Of One.
L'apice del disco e` forse Quilombo Ex Optico, una lunga improvvisazione
con Arto Lindsay alla chitarra che si ispira liberamente al tribalismo
E l'album si chiude con un mantra buddista.
Le canzoni (il rap su base funk di Seein' Objects, il soporifero
jazz-rock da cocktail lounge di Rekonstruction, per non parlare dei
pomposi Scientifik e Degree Zero)
sono invece quelle che deludono e tutto sommato ridimensionano l'opera di
Spooky. Alla fine pare che Spooky abbia registrato due dischi, uno (mediocre)
per la folla dell'hip hop e l'altro (strepitoso) per i fans dell'avanguardia.
Forse in questa dicotomia sta la sua grandezza.
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Credited to Paul D. Miller, Viral Sonata (Asphodel, 1998) is one of his
most ambitious works, an amorphous aural architecture that evokes
psychic ghosts and post-apocalypse ruins.
The collage technique is pushed to the extreme. Method becomes meaning
and spawns more method.
Miller is a pop culture theorist, half Andy Warhol and half William Burroughs.
Miller the erudite musicologist reached full circle with his tribute
to 20th century avantgarde,
File Under Futurism (Caipirinha, 1999), performed
with help from the avantgarde ensemble Freight Elevator Quartet.
Cubist paintings come to mind before futurist symphonies.
File Under Futurism appends a cello sonata to a thick texture of
frantic, syncopated beats.
The grinding tempo of Experimental Asyncronicity is subjected to
all sorts of tortures and degradations by instruments whose timbre has been
warped to the limit and by electronic effects that sound as unpleasant as
sledgehammers and caterpillars.
Downtempo Manifesto is a manically percussive track, built around
an ominous industrial thumping, phenomenal bass rumbling and atonal synthesizer.
The two short Interstitial pieces, as well as the closing Chromatic
Aberration, offer an odd integration of
modern avantgarde and vintage dadaism, with results that resemble
Fugs' Virgin Forest and psychedelic music.
The quartet augments Miller's eccentric genius with a few gems of baroquely
aristocratic chamber music in the vein of the Penguin Cafe` Orchestra
(the middle-eastern motif of Infrared, the exotic adagio of
The Revolution Will Be Streamed, the romantic aria of
This Is What Happens) and Miller floods them with his rhythmic
This is a delicious excursion off the beaten track that showcases Miller's
potential as a full-fledged composer.
Kaotik: Transgression (Manifold, 1999) is a pretentious and disappoint
collaboration with noise guitarist Totemplow.
The Quick And The Dead (Sulfur, 1999), a collaboration with
is noteworthy mainly because of a reworking of his dub masterpiece,
With Optometry (Thirsty Ear, 2002) Miller realizes another milestone
recording, one which marks a new beginning in jazz music.
The difference between live and sampled music is blurred to the point of
The jazz quartet of Matthew Shipp on piano,
William Parker on bass, Joe McPhee on sax and trumpet and
Guillermo Brown on drums delivers incendiary ballad-oriented jams
that Miller dresses up with invisible maquillage.
The captivating, swinging, super-charged Ibid Desmatches Ibid
starts the album on a path of creative convergence.
the band shuns harsh tones in favor of discrete consonance, as proven by
the soulful Latin leitmotiv of Reactive Switching Strategies for the Control of Uninhabited Air
and by the bluesy, jumping It's a Mad Mad Mad World.
More often than not, the real action is in the background.
The atmospheric hip-hop of Asphalt - Tome II is notable not for the
rapper's metaphysics but for the subliminal noise by Pauline Oliveros
against buzzing, dissonant horn fanfares.
The nocturnal tension of Sequentia Absentia I is overwhelmed by
percussive and electronic events that lend it a psychedelic quality.
But the experiments are no less bold. The trancey drones and resonating bells
of Variation Cybernetique - Rhythmic Pataphysic - Part I, the erratic,
cascading tones of Rosemary, the flute vertigoes and harmonic hypnoses of Dementia Absentia II,
the asbtruse sonic jelly of Absentia Absentia III,
the surreal belly dance of
Variation Cybernetique - Rhythmic Pataphysic - II
dot the landscape of distorting mirrors, of emergency exits,
of wormholes to other universes.
The 11-minute Optometry opens with a random sequence of sounds, a
futuristic collage of mechanical nonsense. Then a violin intones a sentimental
melody, only to be interrupted by a dj. A deep funk groove and drum'n'bass
ambience briefly transport the song to the dance floor, before the violin
regains its melancholy lead. The rhythm mutates into syncopated hip-hop,
plunges into cacophony, the horns concoct a childish rigmarole, and the
bacchanal continues unimpeded, like a colossal rehearsal for some
Periphique is a sonata worthy of atonal classical music, each
instrument playing against the other while contributing to the overall
flowing and ebbing of dementia, until the strumming turns into a weak, frail,
tenuous melody. Periphique is not chaos for the sake of chaos: it is
organized chaos that favors emergent structure.
Extraterrestrial piano playing, booming bass, romantic sax solos,
neurotic drumming are all blended in sophisticated textures that capture
the zeitgeist of the early 21st century.
Present Drums Of Death (Thirsty Ear, 2005) is a collaboration with
Slayer's drummer Dave Lombardo, featuring
Public Enemy's Chuck D,
Meat Beat Manifesto,
Living Colour's Vernon Reid.
System Error (2007) is a mix.
"Terra Nova" was a multimedia show that premiered in 2009. The music, however,
was rather trivial minimalism inspired by Philip Glass' operas of the 1970s.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
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