Published Apr 01, 2000Man vs. machine: it's an age-old story, particularly relevant in this era of extreme dependency on technology. Music makers tend to be divided on the issue: is the sound of music any less sweet if there were no "real" instruments involved in the recording?
"There's quite a lot of machine-made music that I find too reliant on technique," ponders DJ Food's Strictly Kev. "There's not enough melody, or they've forgotten song structure and arrangement. It can then be about impressing a small clique of people with your dexterity in programming, or in writing your own software to randomise this, that, or the other. Whilst it's all very impressive, it's not necessarily something that you'd want to return to more than once or twice."
DJ Food's new Kaleidoscope, their first album in five years, is both impressive and worth hearing more than once or twice. Kev and partner-in-Food Patrick Carpenter (PC) have created a whirlwind of sound, incorporating strings, piano, guitar and other organic instruments alongside wildly cut-up breaks and snippets. With the turntable and sampler their main instruments of choice, and a mutual appreciation for avant-jazz, the duo have turned out some seriously unpredictable, artfully arranged songs.
It's no surprise then to find DJ Food collaborating with others who produce around the edges. Kev and former Tortoise member Bundy K. Brown make darn good use of technology in their collaborative joint "Full Bleed." "We'd agreed on the drum loop, tempo and a time signature," smiles Kev. "He sent me a tape that was very different from mine, but we managed to synchronise the elements. The very first quarter is mainly mine, it switches into his, the middle cuts back and forth between our drum programming, and the end is largely a composite. It took about a week to really thrash it out.
"My goal is to make tracks that sound like they're played by musicians," the producer muses. "A listener might know that it can't possibly be a live band that they're hearing, but it doesn't sound like a computer or an electronically-made drum sound. It's sort of a '90s live-ness." He pauses and laughs. "Although we are now in the year 2000."