01 July 2011

The Pop Universe, in the Shape of a Doughnut

On a somewhat lighter note of what I was going on about previously...

Simon Reynolds, offered a temporary venue at Bruce Sterling's Wired blog, tangentially riffing on some on Retromania's content, with some comments on the topic of mash-ups, plunderphonics, and pop eating itself. A bit delighted to see that he, as I did some time back, fit The Residents' Third Reich'n'Roll into this continuum; but when he ups the ante by stacking another of my old-skool favorites atop that by citing Bernard Parmegiani's Pop'eclectic, fuck me if I'm not about ready to start doling out hugs.

But seriously. The No. 1 Astronaut/WNCL "Instant Digest" mix (via modyfier) he mentions had previously escaped my notice. The Nick Edwards testimonial sums the thing it very precisely...

"In this age of the super information highway, the problem is no longer how to access information, it is how to absorb it. The Instant Digest offers the perfect solution: sonic information compressed into short, sharp efficient byte-size chunks. After all, download culture has already removed 75% of extraneous audio information from our musical experience, so why not go the whole hog and reduce the actual duration too? Cut out all the boring bits, just give us the salient points, please. Instant Digest reduces the musical experience to the condition of Blipvert."

Simon also nods to Osymyso's "Intro Inspection" in the course of the piece. aBut while reading it, I had a couple of other related items leap to mind. Firstly, DJ Food/Strictly Kev's "Raiding the 20th Century" mix of about 7 years ago. The expanded two-point-oh version of the thing is a somewhat different beast from the usual mash-up mix, thanks to Kev's bring in Paul Morley for a bit of spoken-word narration. Apparently Kev was amazed by Morley's book Words and Music: A History of Pop in the Shape of a City and how it paralleled a lot the ideas he had in doing the mix the first time around, and asked Morley to help him with the remix. And Morley's book is a very playful and unorthodox outing, hardly your standard work of music criticism/writing/historicism.

But the Astronaut No. 1 mix brought something else to memory, a similar exercise from years ago that turned up via the site for the plunderphonics outfit Evolution Control Committee. Their site hosted a pair of MP3s taken from a mysterious tape entitled "Chart Sweep," a mix that featured every Billboard pop-chart #1 hit from between the years of 1954 and 1992, all of 'em stacked end-to-end in short snippets and presented in chronological order. As I double back to relocate the post, it appears that the ECC guys and their associates eventually tracked down the tape's creator.

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In Words and Music, Morley goes on a riff on the Now That's What I Call Music! compilation series. Which reminds me...

Before the days of "oldies" stations and the digitally-enabled culture of endless reissues, we got by however they could. Options were limited, but people did have options.

File under: Wedding DJ's "crate savers."

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ECC, some might recall, first came to attention back in 1994 with their Whipped Cream Mixes 7", in which the guys cheekily matched the vocals from a pair of Public Enemy tracks to songs by the Tijuana Brass. Which reminds reminds of this item that I bumped into while writing the previous post, in which The Wire mag gets Christian Marclay to contribute to their regular "Inner Sleeve" feature, so Marclay weighs in on the era-defining libidinal icon that was Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights.

Funny how a number of things fall together sometimes.

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