Having just been officially confirmed into the role of maladjusted fault-finding specimen after hearing (and, with rare exceptions, despising) the pillaging of Meredith Monk’s superior vocal skill in the grossly hyped Monk Mix curated by DJ Spooky, I shiver in fear whenever seeing “DJ something” associated to an artist whose work I regard. Luckily, DJ Sniff (Takuro Mizuta Lippit) is not someone who decides to use a prestigious name of the experimental scene to set up a new trend, but the artistic director of STEIM since 2007.
This project, realized with a heap of old (and expensive, as correctly pointed out in the liners) Evan Parker vinyl albums, is notable for at least two essential reasons, the first being the unforced musicality that the whole exudes. Neither excessively fragmenting nor edulcorating things, Sniff is not hiding behind the screen of “making a great name’s art available to the general public in cheap fashion with the alibi of an improved connection between different creative abilities”. He decided to pursue a vision that places the large part of ep halfway through an impenetrably overwhelming minimalism and the sort of galvanic real-timeness that lets one perceive the exact details of what’s happening while getting slapped by blurs of quickly succeeding sonic flashes.
The second, and maybe most critical factor of success is the choice of not working exclusively with Parker’s reeds as a source: you can hear cutting shards of several illustrious partners scattered throughout the program. Trombones, drum kits and double basses carry the same weight of the main figure’s saxophone, and there’s even a distinct appearance by Phil Minton, alone signing the end of “Itchy Throat”. All in all, the excellent management of the electroacoustic items – achieved via turntable, mixer and computer – highlights the composer’s cleverness more than shoe-shining the origin of his admiration, always a risk in this type of operation.