Artist: DJ Spooky & Totemplow
Label: Manifold Records
Purchased From: Reckless Records / 1532 N. Milwaukee / Chicago, IL
Price: $13.99 + tax
Purchased on: 02/22/08
Review: Paul D. Miller is one of the more creative and thought provoking DJs in the vast and murky world of turntablism. Mixing intellectualism, art theory and history with dance beats and textural soundscapes, his appeal runs broad, but occasionally thin. Spooky’s refusal to remain inside of one musical genre and willingness to reach out to musicians and sound dabblers of all sorts has resulted in a catalog that could have a modern music theory course sculpted around it.
Of course, even armed with a willingness to try new things, DJ Spooky has a few time tested tricks, samples and scratch routines that act as fundamental standards he tries to instill with new context. In collaboration, these old tricks can become more than experiments. They become necessities. Sometimes, this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Kaotik:Transgression is a collaboration between Miller and noise artist, Totemplow, released on the now defunct Manifold Records label, and I hate to admit that this is one of those times that the attempt to re-contextualize doesn’t work.
Released in 1998, during Spooky’s transition from his signature illbient sound to his foray into straight hip-hop and drum-and-bass experimentation, Kaotik:Transgression suffers the unfortunate effect of sounding rather stale and phoned in. All of the elements of Spooky’s signature sounds are present, but laid out in a straight line that even the most casual listener would recognize as ingredients in need of a good stir. The strangely melodic noise samples contributed by Totemplow provide an additional layer, but fail in creating a sonic texture or challenge worth your attention.
Drum and bass breaks puncture a slow buzz of a rhythm on the tracks Transgression and Eracism while the creeping “dance” track, Hallucination tries and fails in recreating the catchy one-word repetition style of Kraftwerk. The other tracks on the album follow suit and continue to highlight the weakness at the heart of this experiment: everything is expected.
DJ Spooky is always an artist I keep an open eye for while digging through the crates, but Kaotik:Transgression is barely worth the dust it collects. Those in search of genre bending sonic experimentation, I recommend almost any other DJ Spooky release. For the more adventurous, I recommend the brilliant and challenging , while those in search of more straight hip-hop drum & bass peppered with interesting collaborations should try .
If you simply want infectious, repetitious grooves and simple production, you’ll be much better off with your crazy uncle’s copy of .
Rating: 1.75 / 5