Free Activation Series Vol. 2
(Sweet Mother Recordings)

EVERY TIME I watch DJ Nasir spin records, I think, now there's an aristocrat. An aristocrat, furthermore, who is from the future--a future aristocrat. He's a hologram projected from the time of our desires, the time just ahead (the year 2019 to be exact). But what is this future aristocrat doing in our primitive city? Why didn't he just wait for us to arrive at his future time?

Because he wants to instruct us, to prepare us, to help us arrive at our desires without a memory of the journey. In a word, he is like a bankrupt French dandy whose is hired by a rich American soap manufacturer to teach his spoiled kids how to act as if their father never made a dime from selling soap. All rich people unlearn the story of their success, every city unlearns its raison d'être. DJ Nasir is teaching us how to erase the madman of the Alaskan gold rush, the mechanics of Boeing, and even the hippies of Microsoft from our future's past.

DJ Nasir's whole relationship with music (when I speak of music in this context I mean of the downtempo, drum 'n' bass, rare-groove variety) is aristocratic in nature. He doesn't really make music, he selects it; and selection is the art of the aristocrat. The production of music, on the other hand, is something for the bourgeois and laborers to work out. To be a true aristocrat, you must never make music, or be seen playing an instrument or laboriously learning how to master one. Anything less than the selection of songs is tantamount to soiling one's hands with money, or giving the impression that one actually cares about money. Thus, the aristocrat strives for the ultimate paradox: Having lots of money and yet never actually making any--and this is what DJs of Nasir's caliber are all about; they have lots of music but never make any.

It was the dandy/philosopher Walter Benjamin who once dreamed of composing a book just from quotes; the same impulse is at work in this form of art. Collection and selection displays not how well you play, but how well you listen; not how much time you spend composing a song, but how much time you squander looking for rare records. I admire this kind of art because it keeps its hands princess-clean, requires little physical effort; yet when done properly (which is enormously difficult to do), it attains a level of beauty that is unknown to any other music.

Nasir's new compilation/mix is called Free Activation Series Vol. 2. It is very different from his last compilation, Wallpaper* Mach 1.5, whose theme was luxury, "limitless luxury." "There is nothing quite as decadent as a specially engineered soundtrack to get dressed to," wrote Wallpaper, who commissioned the "kinky little collection of tracks" from Nasir. Free Activation Series Vol. 2 focuses on the world Nasir is from, the future world. It's about sky labs, interplanetary travel, hedonistic moons, and glittering C-beams near the Tannhauser gate.

The CD starts with a rocket launch set to the synthetic reflections/refractions of Plastiq Phantom. Once in space or "The Great Outside," it progresses from world to world, station to station, space disco to space disco with the exhaustion (and at times even boredom) of someone who is long accustomed to starships and strips. Indeed, as I write this review two cosmonauts and an astronaut are settling down in their new home beyond the sky. Most of the parts for this space home were made by Boeing, which means, if things go as NASA plans, Seattle is destined to build the "off-world"--our future space condominiums and bubbled space communities. Nasir's mix is preparing us, grooming us for this future, so that when we arrive there we will yawn at the marvels of aeronautical engineering.

Most of the performers on Free Activation Series Vol. 2 are unknown (Pressure Rise, Hairy Diamond, Advertising the Invisible), but that doesn't matter, because once a selected track is among other selected tracks, it no longer refers to the artist who produced it, but to the DJ who is ordering it in the mix. Also, their rarity reasserts the DJ's aristocratic values: Aristocrats care only for obscure objects, and spurn anything that has been contaminated by the vulgar tastes of the commoners. Nothing about Nasir is common, and his new mix, his effortless and erotic space mix, reflects his refined taste in our future's music.