Tuesday, October 05, 2004:

cuts, crates, and scratches

Quannum -- Quannum World
UNKLE -- Be There (feat. Ian Brown)
Hop on over to moistworks and listen to Chicago Gangsters' "Gangster Boogie" before it's gone. And, at The Number One Songs in Heaven, there's an excellent track by Timi Yuro called "What's a Matter Baby."

There's a scene in Scratch where DJ Shadow goes into the basement of this music store he frequents, and it's this dimly lit place crowded with stacks of vinyl, some taller than he is. The stacks are packed in dense enough to make passages between them; the sheer volume of it is overwhelming: rich with potential and just waiting for some attentive person to come along and sort it all out. That could never be done--there's too much to listen to in a lifetime--but Shadow's there looking through it for hidden gems, quiet and respectful, knowing that each musician thought they had hit it big when they got that recording contract.

I started all that to talk about crates and how London Lee, Christopher Porter, and Oliver Wang are consistently killing it with tracks I'd never heard before but wish I'd grown up with. But now I want to post something by DJ Shadow.

Quannum is one of of the many side projects Shadow is involved in; the band's roster changes a bit but often features Lyrics Born, Blackalicious, Lifesavas, and Joyo Velarde. The lyrics on this track are swaggering, cock-sure, hilarious, and pointed: "Couldn't find a cut shaving"? Quite the difference from Shadow's point above; these men have made it and they damn well know it, and they take time to rip on some pop stars. "They be bringin' home the bacon and that validates the garbage they be makin', right?" "Wrong." ... The track is full of braggadocio: "I'll rip arms and have you clappin' with your shoulder blades," the man says, and I'll take him at his word.

Isaac from quannum.com informs me that Jumbo from Lifesavas produced this track; and DJ Shadow produced the flipside, "Put Your Back Into It." So in a post about Shadow this doesn't really fit, but I like it enough to leave it in anyway....

"Be There" is a remix of "Unreal" off UNKLE's Psyence Fiction (what is it with DJs and science fiction?--notice all the aliens in Scratch). The mix has been tweaked a bit and the muffled electric guitar has been replaced with vocals by Ian Brown from the Stone Roses. I'm not sure what the lyrics mean but that doesn't distinguish it from most pop/rock songs; allmusic.com doesn't dig it but I find it oddly fascinating.

Anyway, if you haven't seen Scratch, you should. It's a good overview of turntablism, from "Rocket" to the late 90s; it's entertaining; it's informative; it's emotionally involving. It does have some omissions, particularly DJ Jazzy Jeff, but after watching all the bonuses, I think I see why. Maybe he's well-spoken in general, but in those interviews he's not.
Quannum.com, with track previews.
Quannum World Tour on iTunes for your Quannum. The acapellas are tempting.
[OOP Be There EP @ Amazon.com]


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