Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm Free, Captain Peacock!

It's interesting how my tastes have changed since I got married. Many cheerfully diverting shows and movies that once seemed like splendid ways to wind down at the end of the day now seem like utter wastes of time. Or maybe it's just the backlash from having watched all 6 seasons of Lost even though I was done by the end of Season 4.

We recently watched the first episode of nerd favorite Torchwood and decided to stop there. Guess my nerd card will be revoked. It's safe to say my teenage self would have fixated on this show, but now it just seems like microwaved leftovers of the same light sci-fi stuff I enjoyed... when I was a teen. We also tried a show called Monarch of the Glen. It's the upteenth BBC show about a guy who grew up in the manor house but left because he wanted to get away from all the haughty uptight stuffiness, but circumstances force him to return and set shenanigans straight. Don't forget the sassy servants and working class love interest. In the single days I would have wolfed this down like cashews. Not now.

When I'm sick, though, all bets are off. A few years back I was horribly ill and stranded in another town, far from my wife. I lay in bed watching Are You Being Served on Youtube, episode after episode. I could think of nothing (other than healing and getting back home to my love) I'd rather do than listen to Mrs. Slocombe talk about how it had rained unexpectedly and her pussy got soaking wet.

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Defense of the Mashup

This review of a new book titled Retromania by Simon Reynolds makes the book sound interesting, but dismissing the mashup as a barren genre is a mistake. Mashups are the only way to resuscitate 99% of the music that gets played on Clearchannel (speaking of barren) radio.

Mashups can be salvage operations. Take a lousy song with a terrific beat, a crummy song with a catchy riff, a limp song with a powerful vocal, a dreadful song with an inspired solo, a pointless song with a tantalizing bridge. Extract the good nuggets. Blend those nuggets together with a deep love for musical structure and fresh juxtapositions. Voila! A dynamite new song that rescues the good bits of a fistful of corporate audio product.

Mashups can be glorious new sound-blends. DJ BC's Art Raps fuses hiphop with old analog electro-music and takes listeners to a sonic landscape that never existed before. Check out L'eau de Rose (second tune down the page) from DJ Earworm. Is that lovely, or what? Admittedly the source tunes are lovely too, but this blend gives me chills.

Mashups can be nostalgia-2-go. There are songs that, to use a phrase my wife detests, are part of the soundtrack of our lives, but fall into a grey area somewhere between "Need to hear again from time to time" and "Never need to hear again". Incorporating these songs into a mashup lets us enjoy what works about them without sitting through, say, a five minute song to get 30 seconds worth of nostalgic kick. By the same token, mashups can provide a relatively painless intro to modern pop confections. Who wants to sit down and listen to an hour of the latest pop jams? I sure don't. That's why selfless DJs do the dirty work for us, listening to would-be songs of the Summer and compiling them into sampler platters.

Some people are pushing sound-collage and mashups pretty far, and have been doing so for years. People like Vicki Bennett, A.K.A. People Like Us.

DJ Food's "Raiding the Twentieth Century" is a splendid tour of the mashup art, blending lecture and demonstration.