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The Quick and the Dead

DJ Spooky vs. Scanner

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Album Review

The Quick and the Dead is a collaboration between Washington, D.C., turntablist Paul Miller (DJ Spooky) and London-based experimental electronic artist Robin Rimbaud (Scanner). The release has been credited to DJ Spooky vs. Scanner in the tradition of classic dub remix battles, though it's impossible to tell exactly who's reshaping the music of whom. One would guess that it's DJ Spooky's hip-hop influence guiding the sliced and diced rap sample collage of "Uncanny." Likewise, it may be Scanner crafting the buzzing tectonic plates that glide over the music. Yet Miller is an artist equally familiar with the musical avant-garde as he is with the urban sounds of the U.S., and Rimbaud's electronic creations had evolved into more coherent structures by the time of this release. The Quick and the Dead is more a morphing set of sonic landscapes than an independent collection of songs. Tracks are seamlessly linked together by interludes of dialogue snatches and tattered sheets of white noise interference. For the most part, ideas are generated and then submerged in the album's sea of sound. On more than one occasion, the influence of dub takes hold. On the opening "Journey" (an appropriately ambiguous title for anything here, or indeed, the album itself), a light keyboard skank is backed by a lo-fi, crunching beat that turns to liquid midway through. "Channel Float" takes a reverb/echo-soaked dub workout and removes the instruments, leaving only the effects. Elsewhere, the duo has come up with other, stylistically stranger combinations. "Ngugi" is based around a murmuring of exotic thumb pianos that become engulfed by a tide of chilling ambience. "Guanxi" juxtaposes halting rhythms that shift and slide over a tiptoeing, cinematic bassline. Though the music establishes very little direction, The Quick and the Dead is nonetheless a captivating aural experience.

The Quick and the Dead, DJ Spooky vs. Scanner
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