Getting back in the mix

The Legend Returns The past few weeks I’ve been writing about the music that “made my list” for 2010. I had a snippet column where I gave some hints and I have talked about three of those four releases. But as I approach the fourth mix I do need to let you all in on a little secret. In my teaser list I mentioned a CD that came attatched to a magazine. I’m gonna write about that release but I must admit that I did now know that this disc came with a magazine or vice versa. No, I didn’t buy a magazine to get the music, I downloaded it. Online. For free. There. I said it. Come and get me FBI!

In all seriousness I bumped into the mix commissioned to accompany the July issue of Mixmag, the venerable UK magazine devoted to club culture. The mix was by Fatboy Slim, an old favorite of mine. Much like with the Chemical Brothers (whom I wrote about last week) I had used to absolutely love him but he slowly got less interesting to me. The reliance on vocalists is really what did it. I guess in my heart I just love the dance music that isn’t too reliant on vocals, I prefer there to be snippets of words of phrases that set and encourage a mood.

The mix is titled The Legend Returns. Clocks in at just under an hour. Fifty one minutes. Goddamn is it great. When I listen to it I think about the people who clam DJs aren’t “musicians” due to the fact that DJs don’t make their own music. I think that this is the biggest misconception about DJs: They don’t make their own music, but depend on the creations of others to make their living. There is some truth to this but the way a proper, talented DJ uses the music of others is what makes their art individual and their own. They are using the songs, the art of others, as their instruments. They use those instruments to make a cohesive whole and in a live setting they alter and vary them to generate a response in the crowd.

I spent many a Friday with a friend of mine who was a club DJ. It isn’t simply playing a few CDs in a row and setting a mood. It is much more intensive. You listen, you read the crowd, you make sure that the music flows together, is the right tempo, is something that you control to get the crowd into the music. It is something that takes true skill.

Now I saw Fatboy Slim in the late 90s, at Clutch Cargo’s in Pontiac, Michigan. The show was tremendous, watching the crowd was tremendous. The old church turned into a giant throbbing mass of sexual energy and intense vigor. I remember a lot about that night that had nothing to do with the music being played.

Back to the mix. I think I discovered it over the late summer when I stumbled into the Fatboy Slim website. There was a new song released by Mr. Slim (“Machine Can Do The Work”) that I had listened to then downloaded. The song touched on the old spark, great to run to and enjoy overall. Then I found the mix.

I have many Fatboy Slim mixes, some I bought on CD, some I downloaded off Napster 10 years ago. (Really.) This is one of the best I have heard, maybe because all the music is so fresh, things I hadn’t heard prior to listening. Like with other mixes I sought out a few tracks to purchase to enjoy outside of the mix. Then as I surfed back over to the Fatboy Slim website I discovered that he lists charts of the music he plays on the website Beatport AND offers up FREE mixes on his website. I’ve downloaded all three and while some of them are a bit short (around 30 minutes) they just kick ass and make me feel that thrill, that tingle up the leg, that I felt back in the mid-90s when I first got into his music. And in the time when I feel old, like ancient sand, hearing this music livens me up and makes me feel. . . alive? I don’t feel relevant, I don’t feel a connection to anything outside of my day-to-day life. I feel more and more like I wasted so many years, thousands of days and thousands of hours and somehow listening to this music, while it does bring up the feeling of waste in life, does make me smile, make me want to dance and makes me want to keep at things. See, Fatboy Slim is in his mid-to-late 40s. Different circumstances, sure, but turning a certain age is only as damaging as what you do with it. I’m trying to not feel 100 years old. This music makes me feel my age, in a good way, and reminds me through its effortlessness and its fun energy that you really are in control of your own feelings, and you really are as old as you allow yourself to be.

One Response to “Getting back in the mix”
  1. Mike Vincent says:

    A little known fact about me is that when I listen to music (at home) I dance to it. Nothing too extreme or dumb looking, but I do cut the rug and sometimes I miss those mornings of dancing around getting ready for work.
    When I hear Jumping Jack Flash by the Stones it is VERY hard to not dance like Mick Jagger in the promo film. In fact I have a hard time not imitating Jagger in the Dancing In the Street video!
    As I listen and relisten to this Fatboy Slim mix I dance to it, but not in a traditional way. I dance to it like I was a DJ. Pumping the air, dramatic finger movements, the whole act. I feel like I can FEEL the crowd that is bearing witness to the mix, the highs and the lows and the parts designed to bring oxygen back onto the dance floor before unleashing a cut to make 5500 people not touch the ground.
    I love that feeling.

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