Tag Archives: Illbient

Etch Gems 01 : DJ Spooky – Songs Of A Dead Dreamer

11 Feb

ImageSo I haven’t posted on here in quite a long time, for various reasons (the main being I forgot my password), In recent time i’ve been sitting on public transport, trains, coaches, more and more often listening to music and writing loops and rough drafts of tunes to work on later, but between that I’ve also been writing a few little bits on some of my most inspiring, important and generally underrated albums/ep’s/12s etc… I’m gunna start uploading a few to here instead of letting them go to waste.

I first heard this album when I came home from a club at about 7am one time while I was in my first year of college. In that year me and my mates would go to a club in Brighton called concorde2 with extremely shoddy fake ID’s (0’s on our passports taped over the 2 in 1992 or 1991, our year of birth) which somehow seemed to work flawlessly. And typically at the end of the night I’d walk all the way back to my house, roughly 4-5miles out of Brighton, taking shortcuts through cowfields and such, they were pretty profound experiences as the sun was rising. So anyway I got back home with the average comedown, couldn’t get to sleep but was really tired but also pretty relaxed, so to kill some time I went and got lost in the internet looking for new music, links lead to links lead to URL’s lead to dodgy Russian sites (this must’ve been around 2007/8) and I stumbled on this, I’d heard of DJ Spooky before via his tune “B-Side Wins Again” being featured on the soundtrack to Need For Speed : Most Wanted (I think), but it was nothing quite like this.

An extremely hazy mish-mash of dub, hip hop, musique concrete and trip hop, I hadn’t heard anything quite like it. Obviously white noise could have sounded profound to me in that state of mind, but I kept coming back to this album and to this day it doesn’t feel one bit aged. DJ Spooky was a leading light in the long forgotten, little know New York Illbient scene. Spooky himself jokingly described it as “UK Ambient going to school and getting shot”, fusing the deepest darkest corners of Dub with the crusty darkness of hardcore Hip Hop. I feel it was probably overshadowed quite a lot by trip hop that was big at the time, this album itself came out in 1996, amidst critically huge albums from the likes of Portishead, Sneaker Pimps and Massive Attack to name a few. Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky (That Subliminal Kid) named after a character from a William Boroughs story, was onto something special, his future albums Riddim Warfare and Drums Of Death were also prime examples of these fused sounds, however none quite reached the mysterious, floaty realms of Songs Of A Dead Dreamer. It’s tracks were featured extensively in hip hop classic, a film titled ‘Slam’ which came out in 1998, starring Saul Williams (another guy who’s music is well worth checking out, particularly The Inevitible Rise & Liberation Of Niggy Tardust!) as a young MC sent down when his drug dealer is gunned down, he then rises the ranks in the prison as the best rapper in there. Despite it’s pitfalls the film is a brilliant visual embodiment of the sounds DJ Spooky creates.

For those interested in Illibient and DJ Spooky as a whole you should check the compilation album released on Asphodel called “Incursions In Illbient” feat. tunes from DJ Spooky, The Ummix and a few others. Also DJ Spooky’s entire discography is crazy, he’s also a lecturer now i believe? at some university in the US, pretty sure he’s also released a few books on philosophy and science fiction.

I’ll be writing in here a bit more often now, got a few more of these backed up to put on here too very soon. Hope it’s opened a few peoples eyes to some good new music!!