INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Wired JUNE 24, 2008 - by Todd Jatras
DJ SPOOKY UNLEASHES THE SOUND
DJs, samplers and audio-visualists of every stripe will want to get their hooks on DJ Spooky's latest book, Sound Unbound, an anthology from MIT Press that probes deep into the heart of today's remix culture with an inspired set of essays and a companion CD featuring extensive remixes of the vaunted Sub Rosa archives.
Writers Jonathan Lethem, Bruce Sterling and Cory Doctorow contribute essays, along with musicians like Brian Eno and Chuck D, and every manner of thinker and practitioner in between. Lethem sets the tone with a reprint of The Ecstasy Of Influence: A Plagiarism Mosaic, demonstrating the historical blurring of music, art and literature, a process that over many centuries has reliably spun off highly derivative works that are in themselves innately original.
DJ Spooky, in his own essay, runs with that theme, calling The Matrix an updated version of Plato's cave and concluding the book is a "sound machine... a plagiarist's club for the famished souls of a geography of now-here." From there he sets the table for a riotous celebration of recent technology and the radical acceleration and increasingly globalized blur it leaves in its wake. More than thirty contributors weigh in, addressing an exciting array of subjects, like Daphne Keller, a senior legal counsel at Google, who nails the copyright issues involved with remixing and eloquently argues for the "Promote The Progress" spirit of the U.S. Constitution; and Naeem Mohaiemen, who spells out the under-recognized Islamic roots of hip-hop in Fear Of A Muslim Planet: Hip-Hop's Hidden History.
There's a lot to chew on here, and it's utterly fantastic that this philosophical Bible for the remix set comes with its own soundtrack. The ever-prolific DJ Spooky lays down some of his finest work here, relying mostly on the Sub Rosa archives for an elegant mashup that is equal parts Beatnik (Ginsberg and Burroughs, through spoken word), avant garde (Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp, never sounded better) and modern (Phillip Glass, Sonic Youth, Nam Jun Paik, Iggy Pop).