Demolition Men

On the Internet, no one knows you're a lanky, bespectacled laptop nerd with too much software and not enough time (or inclination) to leave the house. But they assume it anyway. Why else would you be sifting through hip-hop tumbleweed, grabbing snippets of doggerel verse and matching them with messy, pungent beats twice the intended speed? Techno's glitch scene, originally the domain of straight-faced post-Aphex noisemakers, is suddenly glutted by crossover moves, no artist's oeuvre complete without the requisite reworked rap track. It used to be that the sound of digital malfunction was enough to satiate the brainiacs, but now they want cred, too.

But is it fear (those guys are the real sonic renegades, so let me immolate them beyond recognition) or loathing (I hate those sounds, so I'll make them into something that works for me) that drives this trend? Strangely, neither. Consider the unauthorized mixes tribute tracks, cover versions that not only bring new life to the original songs, but often erase any trace of the old life in the process.

It's aesthetic hijacking—no different from what white kids have been doing to black music for years (hello, Moby Mezzrow!). For that matter, it's no different from Puffy pimping Mtume and the Isleys. Add all the effects and vocals you want, but this kinda borrowing presumes the listener knows the original well enough to at least give you props for flipping it. DJ Premier or the Avalanches might take a sound and render it so obscure that even the most devoted record enthusiast would be stumped. These new glitch guys crave no such trickery; radio-ready, they're showing you their hits.

Now you're messin' with a son of a glitch: Kid606.
photo: Courtesy Tigerbeat6
Now you're messin' with a son of a glitch: Kid606.

Details

DJ/Rupture
Gold Teeth Thief
Soot import

Freakbitchlickfly
Violent Turd import

Kid606
The Action Packed Mentallist Brings You the Fucking Jams
Violent Turd import

To wit, the caveat on the back of The Action Packed Mentallist Brings You the Fucking Jams: "all songs not written by kid606." It's part liability-fucker, part artistic concession, and all shtick. 606 (a/k/a Venezuelan-born Miguel Trost Depedro) has been reverse-engineering hip-hop for some time, masterminding 2000's Attitude comp of N.W.A. assaults and sprouting a whole bootleg phenomenon. (606's Tigerbeat6 label features culture jammers like Baltimore's Cex, who's progressed from beat biting to kicking original gold-tooth rhymes, and Toronto's knifehandchop, whose "Bounty Killer Killer," in its various permutations, preserves the dancehall original's primal energy while, simultaneously, completely denaturing it.) So as much as Mentallist, the Kid's latest album, is the work of others, the lens and filter are squarely his. There are the epic inside-joke song titles—"Sometimes I Thank God I Can't Sing Because Than No One Can Blame Me for Anything" for a three-minute feedback trip, "MP3 Killed the CD Star" for a winking mash session—and the by-now trademark high-speed gabber chases that end in a nasty crash in a dark alley.

Half the fun with 606 is the trainspotting: D12, Kylie Minogue, Splack Pack, Black Sabbath, Craig David, the Bangles. On "This Is Not My Statement," the kid takes what's probably some liberal-arts college a cappella group's rendition of Radiohead's "Creep" and distorts it so badly it makes AM radio sound crystal. Afterward, a repetitive loop drones, "I don't belong here," but it's a lie. 606's agenda has no boundaries, geographic or stylistic. Inherited context is as fleeting as the memory capacity of the sampler—instead, we get the now sound from way back. "Never Underestimate the Value of a Holler (vipee-pee mix)" revisits Timbaland's "Get Ur Freak On"/"Ugly" sleight-of-beat, then lets Eminem get open over Tim's other third-world production, "Big Pimpin'," and that's all minutes before 606 makes the dancehall/Sabbath connection and finishes on a high note with A-Ha, a rude bwoy in repose.

On the same track, 606 drags out Missy's "copywritten, so don't copy me," pulling endless seconds out of the last two words. For his purposes, she'd better not be scared of the remix. Indeed, he makes her beg for it. Accordingly, on FreakBitchLickFly, Missy is the node that feeds Kid606 and his extended family. Last time out, N.W.A. provided unwitting, and provocative, source material for the network. But Timbaland's sonic eclecticism has proven alluring to the clicknoscenti (Tim, after all, was breaking the rules before the Neptunes rode roughshod all over urban radio), so the selection of his masterpiece as target of the second 606, et al., assault is a logical one. It's homage; students at the feet of the masters, chopping them up to bits.

FreakBitchLickFly, released on the alleged New Zealand imprint Violent Turd, comprises seven bootleg Missy mixes, varying in quality, but not mission. Max Tundra's "Typify Dialup Toll Amateurishness (fuck coldplay)" (again, titles count for a lot in this world) is warm and fuzzy laptronica. Tundra mimics rain patter—it's a remix of "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"—with what sounds like gentle synth-pad hits, and at the end, dips into a choppy Billy Joel excursion. Kevin Blechdom morphs "She's a Bitch," an otherwise sinister, bottom-heavy affair, into "She's a Bitchhole," which spins spare electro shots into space, instilling the sly track with dancefloor euphoria.

606 himself takes two separate stabs at "Get Ur Freak On." "Take the Piss On," at drill'n'bass speed, layers a thick line of synthesized bass and assault-rifle snares on top; "I Got Mine" edges towards funky pings and feedback. But unlike his radical surgery on N.W.A., these procedures feel merely cosmetic, a tuck here and an implant there. Cutting in "Take On Me" (once again) seems to prove the endeavor's levity.

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