kid606 and friends vol.1
kid606 and friends
Reviewed by Steven Rubio
Monday, May 15 2000, 12:42 PM
It is a time-honored aspect of rock and roll mythology that the camaraderie of the rock and roll band is an essential element of the larger rock community. Friends and fellow musicians band together to make a statement that simultaneously places them within that rock community, sets them off from the non-rock world, and elevates their status from watchers to doers. That this mythology is problematic should go without saying, but the utopian roots, based in communal production, are not merely charming. The rock and roll band can represent collective action to their listening public. Eventually, nearly every such band falls victim to ennui, or backstabbing, or simple drifting apart. But while the band exists, it can exert a romantic appeal over its listeners. Even its Boys' Night Out ethos can be translated, in girrl bands and queer bands and mixed bands and the rest, into a celebration of working and playing together that is more inclusive than exclusionary.
In contrast to this myth, we have contemporary artists like kid606, one of whose ultimate goals as a musician, his web bio tells us, is to "become president of Apple computers." The Powerbooks of today can conveniently be seen as just the 21st century version of the electric guitar, a relatively cheap way for anyone with the desire and the nerve to create their own music. Seen in this light, the tools of production are not revolutionary, no matter how different kid606's music might sound from Chuck Berry's. But even Chuck Berry needs a pickup band if he wants to perform; even the solo rock and roller collaborates with other rockers. The Ramones taught the world that all you needed was a cheap guitar, a cheap bass, a cheap drumset, a cheap mic, four cretins, and a few thousand bucks to create a great rock and roll album; artists like kid606 eliminate the need for three of the cretins, which makes it easier for the individual to pursue his or her muse, but also removes the need for communal production that, in the past, has at least pretended to make rock and roll utopian in a collective sense.
What does an artist like kid606 do when he, too, desires the communal experience? Based on kid606 and friends vol.1, he simulates collectivity, much as electro simulates "human" music. Various electronic musicians and friends of kid606 construct remixes of his earlier work, which are mixed in with the occasional "new" work of the kid himself. The result is reminiscent of the "Supergroup" syndrome of rock's past, where celebrated musicians formed a faux-band, not out of a spirit of collectivism, but because they could make a quick killing on the charts. Blind Faith, indeed. The work on kid606 and friends vol.1 is as strong as kid606's prior work; there's no reason for it not to be, as long as he chooses talented remixers. But as a concept, it's merely Blind Faith II. And if the Blind Faiths of the world are ultimately little more than public circle jerks, then kid606 and friends vol.1 is the same thing for the wired world: instead of a bunch of guys pulling their puds in tandem for a rabid audience, we're left with a group of solo artists masturbating alone in their rooms while playing their favorite songs on their computers. Group sex has been replaced with onanism.
kid606 and friends is a tigerbeat6 release