Music: Goodbye gangsta, bonjour Derrida

DJ Spooky knows his post-structuralists. As any hip-hop producer should.

THE TERM "intelligent" drum'n'bass has always been a nebulous one. It was first dreamt up in order to separate the teeth-rattling chaos of early jungle from the more textured breakbeats of Goldie or LTJ Bukem. Ironically enough, it was this so-called "intelligent" mode that became ubiquitous in shampoo ads on television.

With Fatboy Slim's derivative beats becoming a universal sound-track for beery nights out, there is now a bid to intellectualise the remix, though this time round it is backed by a concept. The move is headed by Paul D Miller, better known as DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid.

"Records are part of a new syntax and dialect," insists the New York- based DJ. "You can pick any style of music you want and sample it, put it in a blender and reconstruct it. There are no rules any more."

On his new album Riddim Warfare, Miller talks about the "elevation in the mind", while the sounds endeavour to follow what he calls "a hidden musical continuum" that exists in all music, from classical, funk and blues to hip-hop and jungle.

While the title may smack of posturing, Miller insists that the album has a theoretical as well as an experimental basis. It contains unusually enlightened lyrics that allude to Derrida and Barthes, as opposed to the gangsta-addled prose of his hip-hop contemporaries. Track titles such as "Post-Human Sophistry" and "Dialectical Transformation" self-consciously underline Miller's academic standpoint, but its musical styles reveal an almost fanatic eclecticism.

Though the diffuse nature of Riddim Warfare makes it ill-suited to the dance floor, it offers a stylish collision of old skool hip-hop, dub and drum'n'bass, complete with eerily distorted samples of anything from Dvorak's New World Symphony to the whine of a fax machine. Some of the more peculiar sounds on the album are a result of Miller acting like a human receiver with his portable mini-disc recorder.

The wide-ranging nature of Miller's influences is also reflected in the selection of contributors to Riddim Warfare. They include Sonic Youth's guitarist Thurston Moore, Wu Tang Clan's Killah Priest, the sonic scientist Arto Lindsay and video artist Moriko Mori.

Miller wants to bridge the gap between academia and pop culture by whatever means possible. He wrote the score for the hip-hop movie Slam, which won the Grand Prize at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. He is also a contributing editor to the monthly art magazine Artbyte and is a regular participant in exhibitions of electronic media.

The hotch-potch of media, styles and voices in Miller's work can also be traced to his background. Growing up in Washington DC, he was exposed to all sorts of different music: "I grew up watching Go-Go bands such as Junkyard Band and Trouble Funk, but there was also a big hardcore scene with Bad Brains and Minor Threat."

In the late Eighties he relocated to Maine to study for two degrees - one in French literature, the other in philosophy - and he became interested in the relationship between literature and music.

"It seemed that themes in textual deconstruction reflected what was happening in electronic music. I got into arguments with professors about urban narratives - why we got to pull apart the work of great literary figures, but when it was Chuck D, that was urban so we couldn't discuss it."

By 1988, Miller had launched his own radio programme at college, called Dr Seuss's Eclectic Jungle. "It was a mad collage of sounds. If Public Enemy sampled James Brown, I would find the original Brown record, mix it with the Public Enemy version and then set it against `The Three Little Pigs'." His eccentricity proved hugely popular and provided the blueprint for his latest mix'n'match recordings.

But despite the experimental nature of Miller's music, there is still a conspicuous absence of new sounds.

"It's difficult for me to imagine a sound I haven't heard. We have reached total saturation point," he explains. "But there are more interesting ways of putting together sounds."

He pauses, to listen to a hotel coffee machine. "But if you say you can't imagine a sound you haven't heard, then you are locked in that loop already. If I can record, sample and mix anything, I will."

`Riddim Warfare' is out on 12 April on Outpost Recordings

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?