Thursday, February 21, 2008
AOKI GETS ROLLED
The good peoples at Pitchfork have slammed Aokis first commercial mixed CD release with good reason. Aoki has always been more gimmick then anything to me and Im glad to hear some media folk start to recognize this. Im all down for a good gimmicks - wearing masks,funny names, and the whole girl talk everyone party with me up close steeze, when the music and skill can back it up. However Mr. Aoki pooring vodka on himself, the dj equipment, and audience has always seemed a bit like an excuse not to dj as much which to me seems a bit weak. Paired with his not always effective attempts at crowd surfing I am again glad pitchfork has said something. Gimmicks will only get anyone so far.
Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles
This mix, the first (and hopefully last) from Dim Mak major domo Steve Aoki, kicks off with Refused's "New Noise", a 10-year-old track that mixes Fugazi-loving ruckus with the merch-friendly electronic ambiance now heard on the quiet moments of your average Linkin Park single. After two minutes of this enjoyable ruckus, the disc jumps into a 16-track mix of modern-day post-punk and indie-approved dance tracks that I assume by the incongruous Refused intro is meant to signify the "new noise" of a 21st century American Apparelled rock/dance zeitgeist that's not at all played out in the slightest.
Granted, this thing passes the American Bandstand test just fine, which is its primary purpose. That said, a broken dishwasher also has a beat to it, and sticking someone's gussied-up 1987 Maytag front and center at the trendiest L.A. hot spot would undoubtedly get both scene-stealers and scene-makers on the floor in time for a Cobrasnake photo op. So we have a guitar-flavored version of the the boundary-busting credo offered in Green Velvet's "Shake and Pop"-- "I like electro/ I like retro/ I like ghetto/ House & techno"-- never mind that kicking those doors down in a Daft Punk world doesn't take all that much effort. That said, whenever Aoki tries to bring two (or three) purportedly great tastes together, the end result is the aural equivalent of mixing toothpaste and orange juice. In Aoki's mind, Mickey Avalon can offer a verse on a perfectly fine little electro squiggle like K.I.M.'s "Wet 'N Wild" without gumming up the works, while Pase Rock can pinch a horny-backpacker loaf on one of two Justice tracks and not sound like an assclown. For what it's worth, Pase does his business all over "Waters of Nazareth"-- take a wild G.U.E.S.S. what the other Justice track is (and guess which indie-rooted RMXGRP worked their magic on it).
Guests of similar quality pepper the disc, with only Kid Sister's turn atop "Shake and Pop" being worth a damn. Turns by the vocalists for Hot Hot Heat and the Faint come off more like extraneous cameos than the spotlight-grabbers they should be. If only other folks followed suit: Har Mar Superstar fronts like Licensed to Ill is the be-all and end-all of hip-hop, Spank Rocker Amanda Blank manages to make a turgid remix of Does It Offend You, Yeah? even worse, and Santogold damages one of the mix's more enjoyable tracks ("Licky [Work It Out]"), with her bargain-basement-Peaches turn at the mic.
If you're the sort that accepts no substitutes, then you'll be happy to know that the original shows up on this thing as well, thanks to Weird Science, a remix duo featuring a member of Moving Units and a certain Mr. Aoki. Peaches emerges relatively unscathed on their manhandling of "Boys Wanna Be Her", but then there's her turn atop a castrated version of Bloc Party's "Helicopter". Weird Science take a perfectly fine guitar-driven track, strips out its frenetic drive, adds a lumpy sea-sick strobe-bass beat, and puts the track's focus entirely on Kele Okereke's and Peaches' vocals, because that's supposedly where the party is.
After 50 minutes of this tired nonsense, with the highlights (like the bloops and bleeps of Yelle's thankfully untouched "Je Veux Te Voir", or the bits of Datarock's strummy "Fa-Fa-Fa" that aren't beset by hot hot air) sorely outnumbered by the lowlights, the mix ends with another turgid rock-meets-dance-with-guest remix, this time a track by Dim Mak group (and post-punk aficionados) Scanners with additional words of wisdom offered by Justice labelmate Uffie. By this point, whatever "new noise" Aoki seemed to promise at the start comes off as just futile sound and fury signifying the number of folks he has in his iPhone and/or under contract.
-David Raposa, February 20, 2008
Case and point.
MP3: Steve Aoki? - KIM - Wet N Wild (with Mickey Avalon guest drop)