DJ Spooky/ Plastilina Mosh | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

DJ Spooky/ Plastilina Mosh 

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On his major label debut, Riddim Warfare (Outpost), DJ Spooky comes off less like the "custodian of aural history" he claimed to be in 1996 than a highbrow homeboy digging all the high-profile help corporate bread can buy--and despite his usual aggravating pomposity, it's his most listenable effort yet. Earlier this year Spooky (aka Paul D. Miller) released his indie label kiss-off, Synthetic Fury EP (Asphodel), and it hinted at what was to come: his abstract sound collages were upended by both garden-variety breakbeats and some air-raid drum 'n' bass produced with Teutonic maniac Panacea. Now he's almost completely left behind the "illbient" constructions with which he made his name in favor of richly flavored hip-hop: Kool Keith, Sir Menelik, Killah Priest, and Organized Konfusion all rhyme for him on the new album, and the straight-up hip-hop tracks that feature them are the best of the bunch. But Spooky's got his bases covered: Thurston Moore provides noisy guitar cut-ups on "Dialectical Transformation III (Soylent Green)," Ben Neill toots his lyrical "mutantrumpet" on "Theme of the Drunken Sailor," and Nacao Zumbi (the band that backed late Brazilian superstar Chico Science) and Arto Lindsay orchestrate a Bahian breakdown on "Quilombo Ex Optico." Thankfully Spooky hasn't burdened this record with the ponderous liner notes that nearly sank his 1996 splash Songs of a Dead Dreamer, but the trade-off is that now he's spewing his quasi-philosophical drivel in the music itself. In "A Conversation" he muses, "It's all language, because if I make my mix out of my own stuff, then it's like a recombinant, I'm like pulling all this stuff from historical shit, whatever, but, if you do your style on my take who owns the mix? Is it you, is it me, is it the beats that came from the other records? All this needs to be questioned." OK, we'll get right on that. Between Spooky and insufferable opening act EBN on this bill, the Mexican duo Plastilina Mosh will make mush of marketing terms like "rock-en-espa–ol": though Alejandro Rosso and the one-named Jonas sing mostly in Spanish, their music has more in common with Beck, the Beastie Boys, and the Chemical Brothers than it does with Cafe Tacuba or Mana. On their U.S. debut, Aquamosh (Capitol), outsize breakbeats, jazzy guitar chords, raspy shouted raps, loungey piano tinkling, and samples of everything from the Meters to the Minutemen jostle in a motley, inconsistent mix that gets by more on energy than execution. Thursday, October 15, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-527-2583 or 312-923-2000. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): DJ Spooky photo by Phyllis Galembo; Plastilina Mosh photo b Yvonne Venegas.

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