Moving Parts

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No, I wouldn't call this music, but I wouldn't call it noise either. Hypnotic rhythms always reemerge through a maelstrom of aural anarchy.

Otomo Yoshihide and Christian Marclay

Reviewed by Bill Mithoefer

Monday, March 26 2001, 2:25 PM


Christian Marclay and Otomo Yoshihide immediately destroy the high fidelity of the compact disc on their latest release, Moving Parts. The scratch and hiss of the needle on the LP immediately brings the listener into the alternate reality of the album's standout, highly self-referential track "Sliced and Diced." Not only is it a disclosure of these two celebrated turntablists' shared compositional methodology. It also points to the way that this record's use of collage equally relies upon the contrasting of analogue and digitally recorded sound for its source material. The scratch of the record continually devolves into the digital hedging of a stuttering sample, which itself continuously implodes into the sound of a record scratch -- from analogue to digital and back again.

No, I wouldn't call this music, but I wouldn't call it noise either. Hypnotic rhythms always reemerge through a maelstrom of aural anarchy. Nevertheless, the temptation of noise to triumph is always there: A deep chorus of vocals appears only to be destroyed by the sounds of failing electronics; a child's voice momentarily peeks through the beats but gets overpowered by an angry entomological machine. Perhaps this record is really a meditation on the battle between competing technologies, old and new, analog and digital, human and machine, where the din that breaks up the linear melodies of recorded life is an abstract representation of the fact that the everyday is neither harmonious nor all that simple.

Marclay and Yoshihide's scratching continually reappears throughout the record to "destroy" machine sounds, as though their record players were allowing these musicians to reassert their control over their own instruments of production. As the record comes to a close, we hear an amplified engine, the clickety-clack of a computer keyboard followed by the once again distorted sound of a whistling human trying to reassert it's presence amidst all of the deafening clatter. With a near close-out collage like that, it's hard not to assume that this record is really a meditation on the meaning of our relationship with all technologies, be it the turbine engine or the microprocessor. So are these guys potential Luddites then? Not if you consider that their will to power is still, after all, a turntable.

Moving Parts is available from Asphodel Records 

Copyright © 2001 by Bill Mithoefer. All rights reserved.
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