The Hip Hop, Trip Hop, Ambient, Big Beat, Trance, Goa, BreakBeat, Gabba, Drum n Bass remixology sex revolution is in full swing and going nowhere but up, so get used to it music lovers. For a solid decade Ive listened to fans of live music and the musicians themselves dis on the worth, or rather the soul, of the turntable generation. Critics call the scene mindless beats numbing the already drugged-up rave kids, or even better, that DJs are over glorified jukeboxes. That may be true for the spin doctor spittin out tired top 40 grooves at the local meat market, but just as there are extremely bad rock bands assaulting the airwaves, there are DJs that propagate the lo-fi; but that accounts for about one percent of the real story.
Case in point, DJ Spookys tour of the great NW made our world that much greater. A show consisting of mad, multi-layered visuals, a blend of presidential debate news footage, pornography, anti-war films, and commercial fodder, blistered the senses to a consistent hype level. Even Oliver Stone would have given pause. Arriving in two fully laid tour busses, Spookys multi-racial entourage sported a synthesizer/samplist, a street rapper, Tabla player, two DJs and a live drummer that single-handedly made drum solos not only hip again, but artful and completely entertaining. And when the white boy DJ from Harlem broke out his turntable solo, the rooms fervent dancing crowd quieted as if they were witnessing the talents of a young Hendrix revisited.
The sell-out crowd covered all ages, with the beer gardens at capacity and all eyes on the stage. Plenty of shirtless boys and tight, T-shirted girls reminded everyone that belly buttons have not gone out of fashion. For the most part, its a self-proclaimed asexual crowd, perhaps too rapped up in the scene to even be proud of their statement. Obviously, the approaching year 2000 has given a dose of reality to this generation. The artists and the audience would rather change the quality of the night than change the state of the world, leaving that lofty task to more qualified dignitaries like Mr. Clinton, the LA Police Department and the FDA. The turntable society is about bearing witness to soundscapes and grooves that are absolutely new, riding that experimental wave of what the Buddhists call living in the momentno hopes, no regrets. Bliss. Or, as close as we humans can get to it. Not losing yourself in some monotonous beat, but finding meditative rhythms inside the trance of the groove. A zone where sex, drugs, religion, politics, capitalism, computers, nature, your parents fighting and the X-Files all make perfect sense.
As for you die hard rockers out there, worry not, for rock and roll WILL NOT die. Just be aware: The rock face is changing rapidly. Next time you plug in your Marshall stack and start humpin your Gibson SG, go ahead and break out your turntable and your dads camcorder. Blow the dust off, and get to know them on a new levela multi-media, webbed-out world where they are your friend. Or an enemy to be feared.