Tuesday, February 16, 2010

PICTURE SHOW: Alexis Malbert's tapetronic music

If video killed the radio star, then the internet has killed the DJ star. Today, anyone with a laptop, iPod, and sizable amount of geeky tech skills can become a mixmaster if they so desire. Records are easily amassed with a bit torrent and a little scavenging; mixing beats become as simple as downloading a computer program. Online remix culture has proliferated at such bacterial rates that CurrentTV, back in 2008, coined an obnoxious term for the genre of bedroom electronica remixes posted in the blogosphere the world over: bloghouse. In theory, I celebrate that the internet has lowered barriers to entry for many cultural and educational resources. But the truth of the matter is, not everyone that can be a DJ should be a DJ. A good deal of the remixes found on hype machine are fucking horrible. I hesitate to say it, but anything that comes too easy is worth a lot less.

Anyway, all of this is just to say that I am kind of an inarticulate misanthrope when it comes to the Internet and the chaotic way it has changed the way we consume and share media with one other. It is a long and tangential aside from what I actually meant to post, which is this video of French "DJ" Alexis Malbert's "tapetronic" experiments.

I put "tapetronic" in quotation marks because that is the name of his project, and  I put "DJ" in quotation marks because I still do not know how I feel about this whole schtick.
Malbert tinkers with thrift store ephemera--old rotary telephones, Sony Walkmens, cassette tapes--to create newfangled noisemakers that, when manipulated by hand as a traditional DJ would with a vinyl record, produce the sound of squeaky tapefuzz whicky-whicky. Other gadgets gleek electronic sounds at the rotation of a dial, or press of a button. It all sounds and looks pretty cool, but something about the preciousness of this acutely 80's fetish is bothersome. I realize my value for the more tactile nature of DJ culture from days of yore makes me a hypocritical, fetishistic Luddite of some kind, but so be it. I appreciate Malbert's playful and inventive return to the analog, but from a visual perspective, it's a little too throwback for my liking (his website, after it began to load, also almost gave me a seizure). 

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