And he’s still trying to break down barriers. At the “Experiment” night of DJing, he says he’ll be trying to find a balance between dance and “non-dance” mixes. “Once people get that kind of cliché about what you do in their brain, they really stick to it — it’s amazing. And I exist in a lot of different styles.” With “Subliminal Strings,” he’ll be trying to reconcile improvised and written music, his live DJing in dialogue with the string section. His three weeks of filming the frozen landscape and recording ambient sound in Antarctica are part of his expanding global vision.
Of course, Spooky’s recordings can be experienced for musical pleasure as well as historical significance. He’s collaborated with everyone from Pierre Boulez and Iannis Xenakis to Kool Keith and Thurston Moore. His Drums of Death was a collaboration with Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, with raps by Chuck D. and thrash-metal guitar that looked back to Spooky’s teen years on the Washington DC hardcore scene. His latest release is a Creation Rebel: Trojan Remixed, a 40th-anniversary celebration of the Jamaican Trojan reggae label, with icons like Bob Marley, Barrington Levy, Augustus Pablo, and the Upsetters getting the Spooky treatment.
But then, Trojan is itself of historic significance, and as Spooky says in his press notes: “Early dub and instrumental music out of Jamaica showed how non-European and non-industrialized countries could use technology in completely unexpected ways.” When the dub poet Mutabaruka declaims on Creation Rebel, “Dis poem is time/only time will tell/dis poem is still not written/dis poem has no point,” his intent may be more political than abstract, but he sounds a lot like Gertrude Stein.
DJ SPOOKY | “Rhythm Science” | January 24 at 6 pm | “Experiment” with DJ Spooky + Ghostdad + Kingdom + DJ Lone Wolf + DJ Die Young + Baltimoroder | January 25: 8 pm–midnight | “Subliminal Strings” | January 26 at 8 pm | ICA, 100 Northern Ave, Boston | 617.478.3103
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