at the Troubadour, Oct. 12
As a Pre-Columbus Day party (ain't that a joke), the dueling electronics of New York's DJ Spooky (cut n' paste turn table wizard) and London's Scanner (cell phone voyeur/improvisational composer) could not be beat; two more interesting electronic alchemists you'd be hard-pressed to find.
It was a surprise to find Scanner (who has only performed in New York stateside) intercepting live cellular telephone calls and improvised moody music (employing miniature shortwave radios, a table-top Theramin and small keyboard) around the atmospheres they created.
Spooky jumped on-stage to create a "Cell phone/turn table duet"; an experiment for "rockin' L.A. back at ya". And boomerang this town they did - as Scanner's music accompanied cell-phone tales of one night stands, real estate deals and star fucking.
New York's DJ culture is about more than shaking your tail feathers. Spooky had no steady back beat to satiate the dancing fools; he had to ask the crowd to brace themselves for the 'experimental set'. DJ Spooky is an artist, not a dance DJ nor hip hop purist. Beck was incorrect when he claimed 'two turn tables and a microphone' could set the world on fire; replace the mic with a mixer with vertical faders and a sampler, put them in capable hands and you won't believe the fireworks.
Spooky's hands! Hands that create universes, hands like doves; Spooky's hands fused old school hip hop, Anglo pop and various avant garde electronic compositions into tiny magic carpets helmed by the words of Hitchcock and Batman and the Joker. The precision with which he reconstructed big band jazz, circus music and Hendrix' 'Star-Spangled Banner' was astounding, and accompanied by elegant flourishes of those incredible, earthquake-making hands.
Scanner's work, highly conceptual and guided by chance, and DJ Spooky's grandiose, illbient layercake had the kids transfixed by night's end when Spooky scratched Porky Pig's 'That's All Folks' into the abyss. Unfortunately, the duo's ingenuity wasn't rewarded by the club - they kicked everyone out an hour early - it wasn't drinking hard enough.