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DJ Spooky (1970 - )
Lifespan: 1970 -
Related: American music - turntablism - black music - electronica - DJs
Rhythm Science (2004) - DJ Spooky [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Probably the most significant name dropped in Miller's textual set is Gilles Deleuze. More than simply the French pomo du jour, Deleuze has become something of a patron saint for thinking DJs like Spooky and cybercultural critics alike, especially since his death by his own hand a year and a half ago. Briefly, Deleuze argued that any attempt at making a coherent narrative out of history impoverishes its true complexity. For DJs such as those on the Mille Plateaux label -- named after Deleuze's best-known book, written with Félix Guattari -- "immanent" complexity, as opposed to "transcendent" narrative, is an invitation to party. -- David Hudson in Salon, 1997, http://archive.salon.com/june97/21st/berlin970612.html [Dec 2004]
DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid (born Paul D. Miller, 1970), is a Washington DC-born illbient and trip hop musician, turntablist and producer. He borrowed his stage name from a character in a William S. Burroughs novel. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DJ_Spooky [Oct 2006]
Paul D. Miller is a conceptual artist, writer, and musician working in NYC. His written work has appeared in The Village Voice, The Source, Artforum, Raygun, Rap Pages, Paper Magazine, and a host of other periodicals. He is a co-Publisher along with the legendary African American downtown poet Steve Canon of the magazine "A Gathering of the Tribes" - a periodical dedicated to new works by writers from a multi-cultural context, and he was the first Editor-At-Large of Artbyte: the Magazine of Digital Culture. Currently, he is in the middle of starting another magazine with many of the more progressive aspects of the Artbyte project. The new magazine is 21C - stay tuned for further developments.
His work as an artist has appeared in a wide variety of contexts such as the Whitney Biennial, The Venice Biennial for Architecture (year 2000), the prestigious Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and many other museums and galleries.
Miller is most well known under the moniker of his "constructed persona" as "Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid," a character from his upcoming novel "Flow My Blood the Dj Said" that uses a wide variety of digitally created music as a form of post-modern sculpture. Miller has recorded a huge volume of music as "Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid" and has collaborated a wide variety of pre-eminent musicians and composers such as Iannis Xenakis, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Butch Morris, Kool Keith a.k.a. Doctor Octagon, Killa Priest from Wu-Tang Clan, Yoko Ono and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth amongst many others. He also did the music score for the Cannes and Sundance award winning film "Slam" starring critically acclaimed poet Saul Williams. --http://www.djspooky.com/hype.html [Dec 2004]
XenakisOne night last November I attended one of the oddest New Music shows I'd ever been to. The ST-X Ensemble, with guest DJ Spooky, was performing the American premiere of lannis Xenakis' 1968 Kraanerg at the Great Hall at Cooper Union. The auditorium was packed with hipsters: gorgeous girls, tattooed guys, dreadlocks, shaved heads, black leather. For 75 minutes this crowd sat quietly on the hard wooden seats as the ST-X careened through some of the most forbidding, hair-raising High Modernism ever composed. When it was over, the crowd went nuts as Xenakis, conductor Charles Bornstein and Spooky all took multiple bows and curtain calls. --Kenneth Goldsmith
Personally, I was less than overwhelmed. Spooky had missed a few cues, and while the ST-X performed magnificently, the sound in the Great Hall was horrible. Most annoying was the image of Spooky taking bows with Bornstein and Xenakis, being treated like a goddamned soprano. To my knowledge he did nothing more than what hundreds of people had done for 30 years--he ran the tape. Big fucking deal. Also, a pre-concert interview with the reticent Xenakis bombed. --Kenneth Goldsmith in HIGH POP: THE AVANT GARDE AS EAR CANDY by New York Press, New York, Aug. 27-Sept. 2 1997
Avant-garde DJsA few 'avant-garde' DJs have successfully pulled such pretentious wool over the eyes of the more academic music critics. We'd argue that DJ Spooky, the New York-based DJ who coined the genre name 'illbient' (among others), owes most of his success to the fact that he can make DJing sound really complicated. It might work on the brains of the chattering classes, but it rarely washes with the bodies on the dancefloor. The DJ should concentrate on 'finding good tunes to play' rather than 'attracting meaning from the data cloud'.-- Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
IllbientDJ Spooky (aka Paul Miller), creator of what he terms "illbient" music—a hybrid of hip-hop, jazz, techno, and ambient—states that what sampling tells us about is the big picture of global multiculturalism. Keeping a positive outlook, respecting difference, breaking out of boxes. Which, it is important to add, is not the same as liberal pluralism. There is the drive to respect difference by moving forward, traversing established boundaries, energetically creating new permutations of difference; and there the correlative drive to establish difference by looking backwards, generating boxes, and energetically making rules and regulations that police difference.
Apropos here is a statement by Deleuze, whose writings DJ Spooky draws on to describe his artistic projects and what they accomplish culturally. Deleuze, in his essay collection Essays Critical and Clinical, writes that "in order for music to free itself, it will have to pass over to the other side—there where territories tremble, where the structures collapse, where the ethoses get mixed up, where a powerful song of the earth is unleashed, the great ritornelles that transmutes all the airs it carries away and makes return" (104). For DJ Spooky, this translates into taking a request at a party for MC Hammer and playing it at the wrong speed with a dub record playing backwards underneath it. The anger of the crowd—the musically conservative element anyway—is the sign of the territories trembling and the structures collapsing. Perhaps they ask, who is even the artist here: the first record, the second, or the DJ bringing them together in ways they have never been heard before? But the anger of the crowd is just one element is the giant assemblage that the sample and the mix bring into becoming. It all comes down to multiplicities that arise in the splices and interstices of samples, mixes, and re-dubs: any sound can be you. In the mix, through the sample, new subjectivities can be brought into becoming… which means, also, never imitating. The sample, as the reproduction of an existing moment of sound/vision, collapses into its opposite: the never inimitable, always unique moment. -- Byron Hawk et all http://www.utdallas.edu/pretext/PT3.1/ensample/spooky.htm
- DJ Spooky - Under the Influence [Amazon US]
Probably the most significant name dropped in Miller's textual set is Gilles Deleuze. More than simply the French pomo du jour, Deleuze has become something of a patron saint for thinking DJs like Spooky and cybercultural critics alike, especially since his death by his own hand a year and a half ago. Briefly, Deleuze argued that any attempt at making a coherent narrative out of history impoverishes its true complexity. For DJs such as those on the Mille Plateaux label -- named after Deleuze's best-known book, written with Félix Guattari -- "immanent" complexity, as opposed to "transcendent" narrative, is an invitation to party. -- David Hudson in Salon, 1997.
[Who says postmodernism can't be fun?]
- Dubtometry (2003)- DJ Spooky [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
A companion piece to last 2002’s DJ Spooky/Matthew Shipp collaboration Optometry, Dubtometry features a hodgepodge of techno, turntablism, and experimental trip tunes. Despite its title, Dubtometry features little of that familiar rumble, though dub master Lee "Scratch" Perry does drop in on "Jungle Soldier" and "Sequentia Absentia." The album, however, is concentratated around clever samples from the likes of Karsh Kale, I-Sound, and Negativland. The jazz-oriented material on Optometry survives only in spirit, as Spooky's reinterpretations keep the emphasis squarely on the electronic. While John Coltrane fans will appreciate lithe lines in "Parachutes" and "Rosemary," this dreamy, extraordinary effort has a heart made of Spooky’s natural medium--wax. --Matthew Cooke, Amazon.com
Rhythm Science (2004) - DJ Spooky
Rhythm Science (2004) - DJ Spooky [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
DJ/conceptual artist/author Paul Miller's pseudonym is at once an arcane reference to William S. Burroughs's Nova Express and a childlike recognition of the sometimes eerie, disembodied sounds he gathers—an immediate indicator of the gleeful enthusiasm with which both his "mixes" and his first book juxtapose cultures high and low, new and old, avant-garde and "street." Son of Howard University's dean of law (who died when Miller was three) and a mother who ran an international fabric shop off Dupont Circle, Miller spent much of his childhood in Washington, D.C.'s nurturing bohemia before studying philosophy and literature at Bowdoin. That his thesis was on Richard Wagner—whose theory of gestamtkunstwerk (the total art work) presages much of today's "new media" revolution—is no surprise. The emerging aesthetic he describes is one in which the proliferating technologies of sampling and studio manipulation have eroded the distinction between music's producers and consumers. From "dub" in Jamaica to the turntablism of the South Bronx, how music was manipulated by listeners after the fact has become as important as how it was "originally" made. The range of reference Miller brings to his description of these phenomena reaches back to Vico and Emerson and forward to Eminem, giving "DJ culture" the broad contextualization its innovations have long warranted. Though much of what Miller describes is hardly new either to listeners or practitioners, his insights as a practicing and successful DJ are fresh and unpretentious. The enclosed CD, an expert full-length mix that moves from Artaud to Morton Feldman, then Patti Smith without blinking, paradoxically points out that Miller is still a better DJ than writer; its effortless juxtapositions cohere in a way his text (including 45 minimalist illustrations) rarely manages. But even such writer/musicians as John Fahey and Glenn Gould rarely accomplished that, and Miller has certainly earned a place in their company. --Copyright © Reed Business Information via Amazon.com
"Once you get into the flow of things, you're always haunted by the way that things could have turned out. This outcome, that conclusion. You get my drift. The uncertainty is what holds the story together, and that's what I'm going to talk about." --Rhythm Science The conceptual artist Paul Miller, also known as Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid, delivers a manifesto for rhythm science--the creation of art from the flow of patterns in sound and culture, "the changing same." Taking the Dj's mix as template, he describes how the artist, navigating the innumerable ways to arrange the mix of cultural ideas and objects that bombard us, uses technology and art to create something new and expressive and endlessly variable. Technology provides the method and model; information on the web, like the elements of a mix, doesn't stay in one place. And technology is the medium, bridging the artist's consciousness and the outside world. Miller constructed his Dj Spooky persona ("spooky" from the eerie sounds of hip-hop, techno, ambient, and the other music that he plays) as a conceptual art project, but then came to see it as the opportunity for "coding a generative syntax for new languages of creativity." For example: "Start with the inspiration of George Herriman's Krazy Kat comic strip. Make a track invoking his absurd landscapes. . .What do tons and tons of air pressure moving in the atmosphere sound like? Make music that acts a metaphor for that kind of immersion or density." Or, for an online "remix" of two works by Marcel Duchamp: "I took a lot of his material written on music and flipped it into a DJ mix of his visual material--with him rhyming!" Tracing the genealogy of rhythm science, Miller cites sources and influences as varied as Ralph Waldo Emerson ("all minds quote"), Grandmaster Flash, W. E. B Dubois, James Joyce, and Eminem. "The story unfolds while the fragments coalesce," he writes. --Book Description via Amazon.com