Riddim science

DJ C and Area C
By SUSANNA BOLLE  |  November 14, 2007

For more than a decade, JAKE TRUSSELL (a/k/a DJ C) was a central figure in Boston’s electronic-music underground, first as a founding member of the influential avant-junglist Toneburst collective and then as one of the resident “riddim scientists” at Beat Research every Monday at Enormous Room. And though he left Boston for Chicago this summer, his influence continues to reverberate, not only through nostalgic memories of parties past but through his label and Web site, Mashit, which he radically retooled and relaunched this fall.

Trussell started Mashit in 2003 as a traditional vinyl-only label specializing in jungle and breakcore 12-inches. But like many DJs, he’s been moving away from vinyl. With the emergence of intuitive DJ programs like Serato, his record crate has been all but replaced by his laptop’s hard drive, and Mashit is different too. “Mashit’s transformation is an adaptation to the changing industry. The Web site is now the focal point and the distribution hub. We write about music and DJ culture in the blog, give away free tunes and DJ mixes on our podcast, and have opened up an MP3 download shop to sell our releases. Not only does this model make more sense in the current industry landscape, but it has freed us up to spread out stylistically. As a DJ and music fan, my tastes are extremely eclectic, and now the music we release on Mashit can more easily reflect that.”

One of his most interesting recent Mashit posts was a tutorial titled “Bass Research” in which he offered a how-to guide (complete with screenshots and sound samples) for creating the wobbly, “wub-wub” bass sound that’s a hallmark of dubstep. You can read this tutorial here. Given the enthusiastic response to “Bass Research,” Trussell sees more tutorials in Mashit’s future. “I want Mashit.com to be a place people know they can come to in order to get useful, entertaining, and educational content related to music and DJ culture. I also believe in a kind of open-source model in which the content we share will create stronger bonds with a community who will in return share content back. In addition, the content that we give away helps to spread the word about the content that we sell — we have to eat, too.”

In keeping with the theme of musical education (and the letter “C”): once you’ve finished creating a dubstep bass line, how about a field trip to the planetarium? I mean the Cormack Planetarium in Providence, where guitarist ERIK CARLSON (a/k/a AREA C) will be performing with the avant-folk duo Black Forest/Black Sea on November 17. It’s the last in a series of concerts that he’s arranged at the planetarium. Each performance has featured Carlson, who as Area C creates looping, contemplative drones, collaborating with a local experimental musician.

An architect by profession, Carlson chose the planetarium in part because of its unusual acoustic properties. “The most interesting part of the first series of concerts was discovering the amazing effects that the dome had on the sounds in the room. There is this sense that the sound is coming from everywhere yet from nowhere specifically.”

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