By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Silly Bulworth. Let music play the guinea pig and you'll see: Everybody fuckin' ain't always pretty. On their mulatto mix How to Kill the DJ [Part Two], Optimo (Espacio) force-breed rock and electro and novelty and noise and tech42 songs in 75 minutes, or 76 minutes if you count those annoying iPod gaps. DJs Twitch and Wilkes practice good science: With enough bridge tracks, songs cross-fade undetected, mood dictates a clean sequence, and the eclecticism's way utopian, man. The Cramps' "New Kind of Kick" smooches electro-goth Harco Pront's "Night" and nobody groans; seconds later Gang of Four babysit Langley Schools' cover of "Good Vibrations" and nobody calls out Optimo for implying autistic kids are, ahem, "Damaged Goods." By the end of disc one, they've systematically overcome pop music's genetic barriersor maybe they've just proven pop never had them in the first place. HTKTDJ2 is the bloody glove that proves the only difference between 20th Century Steel Band and the Rapture is how much the lead singer paid for his man perm.
2 Many DJs' Essential Mix poses far fewer existential questions. Recorded live a day after New Year's on BBC Radio 1, the mix contains that same bleak bastard pop message, but unlike Optimo, 2 Many DJs aren't nihilistic. If anything, they're absurd, fusing the most disparate wax for larfs and slopping together a track listing whose recklessness is its greatest virtue. Norwegian pop queen Annie sings a Brechtian boy-toy pastiche over macho Queens of the Stone Age riffing; M.I.A. galang-a-langs Jimi Hendrix (how's that for purple haze, Cam?); Jay-Z cops ZZ's cheap sunglasses; Kraftwerk, of all cyborgs, drop it like it's hot. Hedonistic and willfully lawless, 2 Many DJs' mix is its own diversion.
Oddly enoughespecially after all this "U.S. dance is dead" stuffNew York has produced a more optimistic mix than either of these. WNYU's Tim Sweeney doesn't boast Optimo's precision or 2 Many DJs' insobriety, but he respects his tracks and tells a better story: Grace Jones's "Walking in the Rain" to Yoko's "Walking on Thin Ice" to Mu's "Let's Get Sick" is good fiction. Thoughtfully reconfigured, the tracks actually sound more distinctive together than on their own, a straw in McSweeney's Sparks can. In the club, where faces and tracks inevitably become one big sweaty blur, there's always at least one strong-willed prude.