Sporting Life 55 5’s

[R&S; 2015]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: beats
Others: Ratking, Letter Racer, Know Wave

Inside this machine, inside this rumble, this pigsty, this Mecca of coffee, bagels, and ethnicities, the zombies come out at night. They crawl out of subway cracks in an industrial part of the city, entering the back corner of a huge building, and traverse graffiti’d walls to arrive at a door with a thousand stickers on it, only to claw it down and make it to a closet with equipment strewn about on cheap salmon-colored tables, while the scent of old marijuana, mixed with asbestos and garlic, comes through the pipes.

They crawl through a window and arrive in the back of the building, where my gang — a bunch of square-chinned Puerto Ricans armed with rifles — shoot them down as quick as we can. Then we clean our equipment, smoke a joint, make a phone call to the Waste Treatment Center, and drive back to Bushwick, hungry for plátano and morcilla.

Those zombies missed something: when they were attracted to our scent, they walked past Sporting Life’s SP-555 on one of those cheap salmon-colored tables. They missed his Lucille. Good thing they did, because that thing was loaded up with samples on a 16G SD card: the stuff of 55 5’s. Those samples: they feel spun out in a cobweb, chopped and screwed, then chopped again, then deep fried, then polished with delay and reverb. They have that hardware-store smell. They have that just-got-out-of-the-subway feel. They suggest using hands. They stand near merchandise.

Nowadays, you can find an SP-555 on eBay in the $400 range. It came and went, designed as an improvement to some of the problems of the 404, but never selling so hot as its predecessor. It’s an artifact, but for Sporting Life, this is how he gets intimate: by turning that thing on and getting funky.

This object called New York City, this sticky, alive, probing thing that Sporting Life and I share as residents, is a skyscraper behind another skyscraper, and inside that skyscraper, a thousand office desks and a thousand different little stories. Sporting Life’s beats, just like those thousand different stories, just like the fire hydrants in a neighborhood or the cold cuts in a deli, or that dude on the corner eating a hot dog while checking Instagram, use New York City as a backdrop that completes the foreground: a face, a body, an artist, a musician, a group, a timeline, a culture. His beats have an ability to tolerate ambiguity and cope with new situations.

“The Sopranos,” my favorite track, has a Guggenheim-like feel to it: a rainy day with nowhere left to go but to walk in spirals, a tumbler of living silence spilling from the artwork on the walls. Meanwhile, the security guards quickly glance at your face — just for a second — and you think about how their upbringing is not here in the Guggenheim. Another world comes into view, shaking in its newness. A beat comes into construction, quivering. Making it well-looped feels akin to seeing a mermaid. A thereness not there, but still conceivable. Still warm, like an SP-555 just shut off after a long session. Or the warmth of another summer night, armed with a rifle, sitting in a van ready to shoot up some zombies.

Links: Sporting Life - R&S

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