The Art of the Turntablist

In a sense, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are music historians and preservationists. In "The Hard Sell," they take us on a scratching, mixing, looping journey through musical genres and fads, from the wildly obscure to the completely commercial, while employing not one, not two, but eight turntables and a collection of original 45rpm seven-inch singles that would make Mikey Fremer's hair go straight.


The dynamic DJ duo has been on the road for many months, touring Europe and selling-out London's Roundhouse, but they've now returned to the States for a few final shows. If you were fortunate enough to make it to an earlier US performance, you might still consider returning for a second dose. No two sets are alike. Shadow and Chemist will perform tonight at Brooklyn's popular McCarren Park Pool. With the summer heat pushing the low 90s and NYC's humidity on the rise, I can't imagine a more appropriate venue.

Tomorrow, the duo will perform at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, NJ. For more info, and a list of all the final dates, visit the official Hard Sell Myspace page.

And check this out:

Finally, you might also enjoy George Reisch's "The Art of the Turntablist," originally published in the September 1999 issue of Stereophile.

Alan in Victoria's picture

A turntablist is the modern equivalent of that lady who played "music" on a big old saw. One is compelled to listen for a minute or two, but, the novelty soon wears off....

Stephen Mejias's picture

I love that lady! Can you play music on a big old saw, Alan? Can you seamlessly match the beats between two or more seemingly disparate records? I fail to see how the "novelty" can wear from something that is purely impossible for so many others to achieve. If you don't like it, fine. Don't listen. But why should you discredit its value as an art form?

Alan in Victoria's picture

Sure, it's a cute trick. If you like it, fine. But, an "art form?" And why would I want to match the beats between many seemingly disparate records? Really, why? Just because you think it would be hard to do? How about I just listen to many seemingly disparate records?

john devore's picture

As is often the case, new forms of art, or really even new forms of media, are dismissed by many as being gimmicks, less-than-art, or inferior to existing media. And just as often, the the degree to which the art form, or new media is revolutionary is directly proportional to the initial outcry against it.

Austin K's picture

Something is only "old" and "outdated" if a majority of the population percieves it to be old, and outdated. Even if this if this is currently the case, as more and more individuals discover(and rediscover) vinyl, it will less and less be considered outdated as time goes on. and isn't that counterintuitive to the very idea that it is outdated?.I think I am a good example of that trend. I am 16 years old and I recently discovered the "wonderful world of vinyl." this is 2008, vinyl began to be considered obsolete decades ago. isn't that funny... By the way, your blog got me into vinyl, keep up the good work!

Jorge in Miami's picture

Think about it... The turntable is the *only* piece of Hi-Fi equipment that can also be used as a musical instrument.You could argue that a tube amplifier is an instrument too, but it is only just half of an instrument - you still need to plug a guitar into it.Some types of equipment are just more inherently musical than others.Give "Preemtive Strike" a listen to see what DJ Shadow can do. Amazing album.

ken micallef's picture

What decade/century is this? You lads should hear Kid Koala recasting Audrey Hepburn singing "Moon River." Now that is a freaking religious experience. KK adds strings, seagulls, more strings, alien cries, layered and doubled Audrey for an overload sensory experience. It is bliss. And if you think that is not cool, you might enjoy his album where he recreates a full Dixieland band, horn by horn. Then there's the masterpiece, Entroducing...or Cool Herc, Metaform, Daedaleus, heck, Thom Yorke for that matter. Get with it!