“DJs,” the solipsistic parasites of the musical world, exist at a funny contemporary juncture. Between the entrenched vinyl purists and teenage iPod DJ-Appers exists a hinterland of frankly confused music collators, wondering which side to take. New technology, the primacy of “good selection,” open arms to new kids with affordable $50 DJ controllers from supermarkets? Or DJing as an art, a skill, a practice in the verbal sense, something that is being dramatically diluted by an explosion in cheap DJ software and a disappearing materialist edge, literally losing its grooves?
As someone who’s spent more than a few nights behind a laptop screen, swearing I’ll convert to Traktor Scratch for the next gig, trying to avoid the alluring ease of my pre-planned tracklist, feeling occasionally vindicated by the fact “you can’t even get this shit on vinyl, mate,” I can attest to the peculiar reflexive worry of the modern DJ. But what else is a DJ than a beacon of reflexivity: an ego with a sync-button screaming “LOOK HOW GOOD MY TASTE IS, DANCE TO IT YOU MUSICALLY INEPT IDIOTS.” It’s a sentiment we all have in common.
One thing promoters and DJs have turned toward to help avoid these lapses into screen-gazing automation is the humble B2B, Back to Back, HEAD 2 HEAD, in which two DJs respond to each other’s tracks organically. Here, partly inspired by the joyous mystery of taking part in the The 2013 Exquisite Corpse mix, is an attempt to propel the B2B ethos into a “long distance” (i.e., over email) online domain. We thereby get all the fun of a B2B exchange, without the actual fear of having a crowd in front of you waiting for a decent mix. Huzzah.
This mix was compiled with Blood Sport, a band from Sheffield who made one of my favorite albums of 2013, Life In Units, which you can stream for free at their Bandcamp. I hadn’t met the band in the flesh until a couple of weeks after this mix was finished, but we had fun steadily accumulating these tracks over email.
In a typical assertion of authorial primacy, I’ve granted the band one line in which to explain their experience of this process: “We’ve spent the last few years of our lives trying to chase an inexorable rhythm, through afro-beat, techno, and god-knows-what-else, and have found that our use of guitars and drums have become increasingly similar to a warped DJ set. So we were more than happy to oblige.”
They chose the first tune, I the second, sending the newly mixed, steadily growing beast we’d created between each other after each selection. The theme was loosely related to their experience of being in a band this last year, and my pining after the idea of making music again (Fix My Life, indeed). Here’s to shared solipsism.
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[00:00] Edzayawa - “Darkness” (Blood Sport)
[03:50] Melt Yourself Down - “Fix My Life” (Beige)
[07:35] Philip Glass - “Einstein On the Beach Act IV, Scene 1: Building” (Blood Sport)
[10:50] DJ Killer - “Church Song feat Chaka Chukwu” (Beige)
[15:41] Maxmillion Dunbar - “Cassette Arabic” (Blood Sport)
[17:00] Blood Sport - “Untitled Practice Rhythm #1”
[18:46] Maxmillion Dunbar - “Cassette Arabic”
[21:10] Four Tet - “Kool FM (Champion Remix)” (Beige)
[24:20] Gedeo Tribe - “Gedeo Vocals” (Blood Sport)
[26:30] Bee Mask - “Moon Shadow Move”
[28:13] Rose Nwanghonyama - “Xitsare Tsetsa” (Beige)
[31:00] Sosolye Undugu Dance Academy - “Butter Rhythm” (Blood Sport)
[32:20] Murlo & Famous Eno - “Ariel”
[35:06] Anchiskhati Choir Trio - “Adila-Ali Pasha” (Beige)