w/ Spaceboat.tv, KEXP 90.3's Expansions, Sat May 25, EMP Sky Church, $12/$15.
Ask DJ Spooky to claim the title of "Smartest DJ in the Universe," and he'll refuse--but let's face it, the glittering arrow of brilliance is pointing straight at him, and it's flashing his name.
A few shreds of evidence: His forthcoming CD, Modern Mantra, mixes Aes Rock, DJ Krush, Shinju Gumi, and about 23 others in a bumping, artful patchwork of hot dance-floor dynamics to nourish mind, heart, and feet. The record's vibe oscillates from heady, abstract, empty-space beats to clicky emceeing beneath weepy, almost klezmer-sounding violins. He writes articles on www.djspooky.com, under his birth name, Paul D. Miller, about everything from conceptual art to science fiction. Anybody who can make a party bounce and also writes discourse on digital culture's impact on art, explaining it by saying, "The imagination moves into all kinds of contexts; why limit what you do?" is pretty genius--or at least has a couple new ideas up his sleeve.
Of course, aside from pure modesty, it's possible that Spooky shuns the title of "Smartest DJ" because of his unwillingness to set artistic boundaries--he believes in malleability. "I'm into transience, impermanence," he begins. "I like to play with records as things that will eventually become obsolete, and basically, that means I'm choreographic, [like] RAMof(M)--Random Access Memory of the Invisible Machinery of the Mind--I guess it's a slogan, but I kinda like it."
RAMof(M) fits in perfectly with his gig at SIFF's "Exploding the traditional definitions of what constitutes the cinematic experience" party, in which DJ Spooky and Spaceboat.tv ax apart the preconception of "movies" and spill beats into your popcorn. Spooky--whose self-edited film clips and "visuals" for his DJ sets are amazing little splices of cinema--defines his own cinematic experience as "what draws me in and leaves me thinking about it all, even when the picture is finished. Think of Wagner's 'Gesamtkunstwerk'--total art, total environment.... I just think of deejaying as the inheritor of that kind of vibe, and cinema is all about flow, too, so they just seem to work well together." See? Smart!