Whoa! Did you hear that? What was in that stuff we smoked? Dude, your nose just turned into a pineapple. What? Stop touching me! Wait. Hello? Is there anyone there? Whoa. Just me and a copy of DJ Spooky's Subliminal Minded EP. At
just under 37 minutes, the EP qualifies as a (to paraphrase the Dead) short, strange trip, one that finds DJ Spooky and a few others revisiting work from last year's Riddim Warfare.
Even if you don't usually get yer ya-yas out listening to a meld of electronic sound fields, fuzzed-out club beats, reggae dub rhythms, scratchy Ornette Coleman jazz freak-outs and the clack-clack hustle of a passing subway, this is
a trip well worth taking. Though remixing songs that were sound collages in the first place may seem redundant, songs such as the energetic "Dialectical Transformation III (Peace In Rwanda Mix)" (RealAudio excerpt) and the free-jazz-meets-Big-Beat "Grapheme: Ghetto of the Mind" demonstrate that one good tweak deserves another.
The tracks on Subliminal Minded generally lack beginning-middle-end structures, but they do seem buoyed by an oceanic ebb and flow structure that forbids DJ Spooky from indulging in mindless noodling. "Rapper's Relight," (RealAudio excerpt) for example, starts off like an assault of industrial soundwaves. And then at about the halfway point, when DJ Spooky fades in the bass from Chic's "Good Times" the track is transformed from a mass of seemingly random electronic distortion into a futuristic disco song.
Somewhat surprisingly, the most interesting songs on Subliminal Minded are remixes from other artists. Keef DeStefano's "Peace In Zaire" (RealAudio excerpt) transforms the Riddim Warfare jungle excursion into an expedition into drum & bass, while Karsh Kale's take on the same song speeds it up and strips away most everything but the drums (both electronic and analog) and some faint ambient noise in the background. Less impressive but still a gas is the Dub Pistols' version of the song, which lays a bouncy ska horn foundation underneath the ethereal ambient and electronica noise of the original. It's a testament to DJ Spooky's art that three remixers can take the same song as raw material and create three very different and engaging songs from it.
If you've ever hung out on a crowded street and heard how a variety of performers' songs melded together to create a glorious noise that's more feeling than sound, you've had a taste of what awaits you on Subliminal Minded.