The most banal attack on critics is the one in which they’re accused of being frustrated musicians. But musicians tend to have terrible taste in music: the good ones, anyway. If they’re not holed up in their rooms practicing, then they’re sucked into the vortex of scenester mediocrities destined to be recalled a decade later when, while moving out of his folks’ home, an early thirty-something finds a collection of worthless 7”s hidden behind his old collection of masturbation towels.
The most musically complex of the performers I‘ve interviewed in the past – masters such as, say, Robert Wyatt or McCoy Tyner – usually claim to not listen to music at all. But the times, they are a-chagrinin’ and, as the only money to be made holding an instrument is to hand it over to a pawn shop, more musicians are DJ-ing, which is another word for playing their iPods over a soundsystem that can expose the poorly recorded quality of the MP3s format.
I apologize to those musicians out there who actually bring records to their gigs and pride themselves on the structure of their sets, and will only criticize them on their discernment.
But then, the murk of low-bit fizz is the hallmark of THE HORRORS, DJing at Bang Bang Club, and once best known for a tangy combination of low-rent Milkshakes-ism and repeatedly entering the Peaches Geldof Scientology sweepstakes. Bringing in Portishead producer Geoff Barrow pepped them up considerably – their last album was one of last year’s best – but then Barrow’s Beak> project revealed most of the Horrors album to be Barrow and friends jamming in the studio. Why doesn’t the Krautrock-obsessed Barrow ever DJ in Berlin? He’s tasteful! Is it because his hair doesn’t measure up to the widow’s peaks of The Horrors? Or because, as man of actual talent, he can actually be employed for more useful endeavors.
There’s no avoiding it if you’re a musician in Berlin of repute: you’re going to find yourself DJing. And if you’re a musician of any renown, you probably blankly repeat the name of sunglasses manufacturers while machines do the rest, so the working paradigm shift is mostly minor. This is unfair to the local-living Matt Didemus of the duo that make up JUNIOR BOYS who, like The Horrors, released a corker in 2009 and, as that record sounded like Giorgio Moroder on downers, one hopes their gig spinning includes chopped-and-screwed versions of Donna Summer hits and “Looky Looky”. Should they refuse, then one will have to settle for art-world up-‘n’-comers AIDS-3D, who made their name on such shenanigans, and whose first Berlin solo art show will present a funferal in which, according to the press release “the maternalistic life-force is perverted into what amounts to abject MILF porn”. This couldn’t be any more perverse than a world of indie rock bassists spinning Akon remixes for slumming Easyjetset aristocrats.