My first exposure to mashup culture goes back to the early heady days of rap when the ganstas and daisy agers achieved notoriety by borrowing freely from old funk and pop classics to create the dance-punk propaganda that I guess now gets labeled ‘Golden Age Hip Hop’. The likes of George Clinton took offense to these collages (which, perhaps intentionally, opened me and many of my generation up to the P-Funk classics of the technicolored-haired one) and laid bare the whole discussion over appropriation of culture. Was it unimaginative stealing or the creation of a new paradigm of music-making through sampling?
Enter the internet and the battleground is prepped anew for debate over the crop of mashups that followed the emergence of mp3 file sharing. And the battle continues with new artists picking up and redeining the gauntlet: the latest being Girl Talk. For an excellent discussion on this, check out RIP: A Remix Manifesto, a multimedia soapbox praise of Girl Talk’s adroit cultural appropriation. The argument being that the originals are so transmogrified that this technique is arch creation, but the music industry and legislature are struggling to keep up.
There are the politics, and they generally seem to impose some shape on the music. The collages become intricate, throwing out new references thick and fast.
Enter SOLO, the UK tech-house maestro who clearly sidesteps this approach and deals more subtly with his historical references. In this Fabriclive mix, those references are far-ranging: funky slabs of James Brown, opulent 1920’s era bohemian dance and, believe it or not, the Flash Gorden soundtrack all pepper this storming mix of house music straddling both sides of the Atlantic. Tiny samples flutter in as staccato snippets before giving way to full unedited blasts from the past. And like being woken from a rambling reverie, suddenly the tribal beats edge back in: creating an appearance of more vigor.
We’re talking more atmosphere than politics here, with an upfront party vibe maintained throughout. I found myself having to explain to my loved one why I was pogoing around the lounge like an elephant on a yoga ball.
SOLO leaves the pontificating for his Myspace page, quoting the mighty Rick Rubin:
“FEAR IS MAKING THE RECORD COMPANIES LESS ARROGANT..THEY’RE MORE OPEN TO IDEAS…”
A change soon come?