Posts Tagged ‘Music’

You Betta Recognize

You Betta Recognize

I used to rock a Kermit the Frogg icon that had some iron-on 80’s T-shirt lettering at the top that simply said “you betta recognize”. No exclamation point or nothing. Kermit has some sort of Muppet hand-gesture going on, and it’s just delightful. Recognition: think about it. I’d like to recognize this phenomenon called Dubstep. It is–apparently–a relatively new and popular type of electronic music that has made its way into commercials and Hot Topic and youth culture in a way that I have not witnessed in a while. Little does the average Dubstep fanatic (or Skrillex-only brostep lover) know that this style of music has been around since the mid-1990’s. Vanity Fair is bemoaning that culture has been stuck in a rut for the last two decades, but I think that they are just not looking hard enough for novelty in this sea of multimedia we all swim in.

Those of you who have been to the Man-Cave known as Mordenkainen’s Parlour in person know that I have a lot of loudspeakers. And I have full control over the effects and equalization that eminates from these units. Kleptus, as I write this, is sanding the Saltillo tiles he laid upstairs at Edgemont as I write. Without playing music, the grinding sounds coming from through my roof sounded way too much like these 60 BPM Hybrid-esque breaks that have rocketed to public consciousness.

I am going to embed the video that I think was the springboard to Dubstep for me. I am a music fanatic; a DJ, even. I still marvel at these Video Disc Jockeys that can real-time juggle slices of video as they are mixing good tracks together–it is beyond me. However, I subscribe to the four elements of hip hop so fundamentally that I apply that litmus test to things I listen to when I detect an entire subculture developing in front of my ears. When I saw the dedication of Marquise Smith to a performance of a single track that he loved so much he believed in it, then you can understand why Dubstep is here to stay. Witness this. Recognize.

This reminds me of Mr Fantastic,  Robert Muraine out of LA who auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance? and was subsequently featured on an Ikea commercial. I really think that the expression of dance actually adds the appropriate video element to an audio element that I already am entranced with. As a DJ, I always ask myself this question: how would I dance to this? It’s a fundamental concept if you are running a dance floor. It’s actually where all good DJ decisions come from. I remember in the phenomenal documentary SCRATCH, Africa Bambaatta would just hand unknown records to his DJ and say “the break is about two thirds from the start”. Boom. Play it. Trust. Recognize.

That is musical teamwork. Think Run DMC or Beastie Boys and how fast they can trade rhymes back and forth. Have you ever witnessed freestyling rappers beyond, say, Eminem in 8 Mile? Switch gears to DJs. Now shift again to (break) dancing. If I can extend you one more time, here is the least represented of the four elements of hip hop: (graffiti) artists. Speak, Mix, Dance, Art. This is how I judge musical culture.

Tyler Rae--PEACE!

Tyler Rae--PEACE!

I am getting older–I turned 40 in 2011–and I am trying not to become calcified as an “old guy”. I shamelessly use my godchildren–Tyler, Taylor, and Bélen–as Soundwave’s “little friends” to get a real idea of what is going on in their lives as a present tense report of what they are facing in this minute in America, and like all the brilliant young minds I have seen lately, are NOT CONCERNED about the future. Because they have not lost faith in their elders yet.

Tyler Rae has a buddy who makes Dubstep music, and frankly, he is pretty damn good; I am encouraging her to use her formidable skills to manage this artist.

Taylor has been crushing it in both his schoolwork and on the basketball court.



Bélen earned $10 from me by selling me a cat scratcher that she proved that my über-kitty Brother would actually use and love–after I stepped her through the process of selling product at outrageous prices and then applying a “family discount”. Kleptus and I then showed her the Marquise Smith video and gave her an impromptu (albeit poorly demonstrated) lesson in dancing to Dubstep in my living room.

My lovely niece Michaela just brought my first “blood” nephew into the world: Breslin Franklin Geddes, who is by all pictures and reports a bundle of joy. I asked when I could start sending video games and Lego kits.

I actually receive quite a bit of passive-aggressive shit that I don’t have kids of my own; hey, I don’t need them–I have plenty of responsibilities to insure these life forms generated by my friends and family grow up happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Belen at Sheep's Canyon

Belen at Sheep's Canyon

What does this have to do with knighting Dubstep a relevant musical phenomenon that is worth paying attention to? There are a couple of reasons, but the most important is that Dubstep is the product of young people. Music is its own language, like math–although I have always been better at music than algebra or speaking Spanish–and as a language, it has dialects, is a creative endeavor, and is constantly morphing. Dance is a physical interpretation of a piece or pieces of music. Playing music, whether a live instrument (and that includes turntables, people), singing, or pre-recorded–hell, even clapping or whistling along–is an act of creation. I grew up doing yardwork with my dad, and when engrossed in a task, he would idly whistle. This is his equivalent of Michael Jordan hanging his tongue out of the side of his mouth when he was contemplating just how to dunk on an outmatched opponent. It made the chores go by faster, and fostered my personal philosophy that everyone has a soundtrack going on in their head-space. Some of us also have a laugh track and a sound effects track as well. I’m so in love with media that this is the best way that I can describe what ADHD is like. All of this is going on in my head, all of the time. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Dubstep accurately represents how gritty, slow motion, and ridiculous the present tense is. DJ Lurk firmly believes that the BPM meter has flipped: we have had enough of trying to communicate music at ever-faster beats-per-minute. 165+ BPM craziness has been around since the drum machine was distributed to the masses in a programmable and affordable unit. For crying out loud, Google “Happy Hardcore” and try to dance to that. It was a mid-1990s staple. But now we have rolled over to the bottom of the BPM spectrum. This is a stroke of genius.

Dubstep is fundamentally SLOW. As in slow down. Look at Marquise Smith: he is interpreting everyday–nay, every MOMENT–life. He ties his shoes. He’s just waiting for a friend or public transport. All the while amusing himself–and us–with an incredible display of interpretive dance. You can WORK to Dubstep. Folding laundry–a task I loathe for some reason–becomes fun when listening to Dubstep. I mentioned (and linked) Robert Muraine before; he’s a street performer from LA. Check out his audition for “So You Think You Can Dance”; spoiler: you betchya!

Muraine is not quite using Dubstep per se, but a parallel style that can sometimes be labelled as “Glitch”. Again, this is not exactly the type of club banger that you regularly hear on your normal 128-136 BPM dance circuit, yet talented dancers thrive when translating strange beat signatures, weird synthetic noises, and general wubwubwub. This stuff is not old people music; it is a blend of new, ever evolving technology with the oldest communication in the world: beats. And I find that there is almost no better way to understand the mindset of today’s youth than to figure out what they are listening to and how they dance to it.

It is possible that technology like samplers and drum machines makes our music lazy; a great 20 minute example of this is the Amen Break, which is the most popularly over-used sample in the history of music. On the other hand, I think that all of this tech allows for more freedom, more creativity, and the awesomeness of remixing and repurposing music. There is a whole movement of people who use loop pedals and effect units to do incredible things with just their voices as the only instrument they are playing, whether it is just straight beatboxing talent like Eklips or the jaw-dropping stylings of Hyperpotamus. Here’s a fan-made video set to Benny Benassi’s track Cinema remixed by the king of brostep, Skrillex, that was brought to my attention by the mighty Woodweaver.

For me, it is really all about dropping heavy-lidded into a sort of trance and almost seeing the composition; your body will then attempt to express this feeling through dance, through singing, through art, and through making your own music. Trust me, I still love the 80’s stuff I grew up on that was new and fresh and edgy, but there is no purpose in becoming trapped in your own set of oldies but goodies just because that is where you are most comfortable–and possibly nostalgic. Today’s youth culture is more vibrant than ever, and it is less frequently older generations that push the boundaries of sound. They used to say that teenagers built the original World Wide Web because they were the only ones with enough disposable time and passion to actually figure out HTML. The same thing goes with music. And art. And dance, and song. Pay attention! Recognize!

QUICK: It is autumn, and it’s time to start organizing the fresh tracks of 2011. This year–number 16–I thought I’d be a little more agile in product and delivery. Here’s to your 2011 Halloween: originally called “2 INSPIRE”, after three tries–and I have never before “retried” an entire mix–it morphed into “The Greatest Trick” in August. Let me know what you think. 375mb direct download from my iDisk.

“the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled…was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that…he’s gone!” ~The Usual Suspects

I have ranted before about this strange drive I have to create things. Being digital has helped a lot, because I can perform magick tricks that were only in my head–or I didn’t think I had the chops to do–and send them out into the world as my little wind-up creatio

n and see where they ended up. Case-in-point: my buddy Miguel runs an awesome blog/podcast/site called The Monster Island Resort Podcast. It was his birthday. Through FB, he asked what his “monsters” were going to do for his b-day. I suggested in a comment a Photoshop-Miguel-into-vintage-movie-posters contest. I really thought the amateur PSers would come out of the woodwork. Apparently, it is not such a common skill

Miguel vs Monster Zero

Miguel vs Monster Zero

; this means I am taking my own proficiency for granted. Far be it from me to suggest a contest without participating; I threw together a pic of Miguel laughing via screencap off of his FB and Google Image searched for some Godzilla movie posters. A few minutes in PS later, and I sent the composite up to Imgur and posted the link back to his FB wall. Lo and behold: I won the contest! He posted it up in his FB album. My artwork is now–briefly–his FB icon. I laugh every time I see it, and I brought a friend some birthday magick.


I am still sortof blown away that I have written poetry for something like 25 years (not so much lately), and I have 15 consecutive years of doing music compilations. I am listening to my record collection that Kleptus and Moonbow helped me move into my spare bedroom after 2 years of rotting in my garage, and every song I hear is a message I had left behind for me to discover later on. This funk phenomenon has happened to me many times over the year. It is why I am passionate about creating. “I’m not bragging; I’m confessing” ~King Fantastic

My last entry was So You Think You Can Blog. No matter how many people think that I was somehow commenting on their efforts (or lack thereof), this was nothing more than a message to myself that I will be able to discover again and again when I decide to do the painful process of reviewing shit that I have already created. I made a Nu Decade resolution to myself to blog once a week; I’m supposed to use Sundays–it’s on my personal Google Calendar. My phone blows up with SMS reminders. I’m trying to convince myself that uploading and tagging camping photos to Facebook with witty captions somehow absolves me of blogging that week. Because it is fuckin’ hard.

The Turntables are Alive!

The legendary Studios of Doom be alive and kickin'!

The more you create original content–in whatever media you choose–the more you attract people who feel that it is a breath of fresh air because it is not recycled: it is actually new. This is the act of creation. Press record. Put it out there. What do you really have to lose? How big is your audience, really? If you’re scared that someone is going to dig up some Tweets or a blog you wrote weeks or months or years ago, then you need to reconsider what you stand for. Although there is an unsettling–creepy and threatening, really–trend to use interconnected networks on the Internet to squelch your individual voice, you HAVE one, and it is your human duty to exercise it across ALL media. It’s called integrity, and it leads to serenity in troubling times because it gives you confidence. And if you can capture–or bottle–some of that in a blog post, or a mix CD, or a painting; work on a vehicle or a piece of furniture; a biz plan outline, a stream of photographs, a poem, an essay, a sketch…comprehend that it is creation and you are creating it. The world ALWAYS needs more content!

I am old enough to remember when the drum machine and the synthesizer appeared in the music market. The critics opined that now you don’t have to hire a drummer, or a string quartet, or a horns section. Then digital recording came along; now you didn’t have to rent an entire studio; you could four-track in your folks’ basement. Then came the worst evil of all: the sampler. Just go ahead: rip-off and re-use any break you could load into the computer. Music has not suffered from these advances; it has grown and proliferated and been brought to the masses. Anyone with a mind of their own now can Garage Band themselves into the public’s eye. I have to applaud the effort–or luck–that it takes to leave a message that potent in the past for yourself: you get to live with it. Did you fuck your brand up? Probably not; in fact, I bet you built it–it’s like character.

Going back through old mixes and compilations and poems and stories, I am certain that I am continuing to be sincere and amazing. It is important that I recognize that these creations are love-letters I am leaving myself; it does not matter that sometimes I feel like I have an audience of one. Someday, I might have an audience of one more: some other creature that gains knowledge or strength or spirit from some message that I have left for myself. I certainly gain wisdom, knowledge, and opinions–experience points–from other people’s efforts on- and off-line. That’s icing on the cake.

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to mention that I was in a band in high school. This usually provokes mild interest because the immediate assumption is that Monster Zero was like that standard high school band that was doing covers of classic rock or Bob Marley or something similar that everyone heard once or twice during their secondary school career while drinking cheap beer out of red keg cups in someone’s backyard. But when I mention details like “we had a full horn section”, “seven to eight members rocking original ska and funk”, and “covered the likes of Fishbone, Bad Manners, The English Beat, and The Specials” — well, that’s usually when eyes go wide and I get full attention. Ska was perfect for Point Loma High School at the end of the 80’s as a decade: rambunctious, feel-good, jump around, hyperkinetic party music balanced out with a healthy dose of dirty, filthy, get-yo-hips-innit funk as a chaser.

MZ was truly a labor of love; we worked hard to cover covers as faithfully as we could and we poured our best efforts into writing originals that would rock a party. I can’t even recall how many hours were spent in the epic soundproof room built in Alex’s basement under the stern but approving eyes of George Kohrt trying to organize, focus, and practice while figuring out marketing, our next gig, and how on earth we might get paid a little bit for loading 1000 lbs of gear into multiple vehicles and showing up to play somewhere on the spur of the moment. What is amazing is that 20 years out, I STILL fuckin’ love these tracks and cherish the memories:

  • Early on we played a gig for some classmate’s birthday party at the Kona Kai Club; we had no lead singer so I had to sing while playing all of the horns and organ on my keyboard — this is the only time that I fronted the band vocally, and the trumpet solo on Ackee 1, 2, 3, is NOT easy to play
  • MZ played a gig at my (then) girlfriend Jamie Peterson’s house while her dad was away; somebody was so inspired that they climbed on to the roof and stage dived into the mosh pit — unlike Coolio he was caught and I don’t think the band missed a beat
  • Monster Zero had some influence in the subsequent phreshness that was Ed’s Cat [citation / link needed], The Unsteady when sister Sian White was fronting that shiznits, and just setting the bar high for PLHS talent in general

I even remember the early days of formulating Monster Zero — big love to Tyler Lusk (drums), Frank the PLHS TA (bass), and the lovely Adrianna (vocals). I have always regretted never being able to pull off Fishbone’s Lyin’ Ass Bitch when we didn’t have Ms Lazzarini as the centerpiece of the band. I have to acknowledge that even though I had a lot to do with convincing people to give this concept ska-funk revue a try, most of the critical effort came from three planets-are-aligning events:

  1. Imploring friend and Arkanoid-crusher (at Brown Bag Deli, no less) Chris McGee to take a shot at fronting the band with his incredible charisma and vocal chops — McGinty has gone on to his own spectacularity with outfits like 008 and Brass, Beats, and Bows
  2. Putting out an ad in the back of the Reader for horn players, from which we encountered the sax-rocking sexual tyrannosaurus known as John Roy — JR went on to continue keeping it real to this day on the San Diego music scene — and introduced us to Steve Pratchner, our trombonist
  3. Getting awesome volunteer support from fans, friends, and classmates; examples include Security by T. Charman and roadie / sound tech / speaker-schlepping-sherpa Chad Gautier

This goes along with my theme of Press Record; it amazes me that we — Galstefus, actually — spent the time to actually record what we were doing at that time, and that I can actually post these recordings 20 years later…and they still sound good and bring back all those memories. Every time a Monster Zero reunion is mentioned, we all get hordes of messages that people would fly in from other continents and bring their SO’s and / or their whole family including their children and requests for “Camel Jack” or “play Party at Ground Zero!” or “I will throw my panties on stage if you sing me Naked Ladies while looking deep into my eyes”. This sort of behavior can be chalked up to cheesy reminiscence of high school and the end of the eighties, but I put a win in the column of love: that’s why I have spent this Saturday rebuilding the Monster Zero tribute page out on my blog.

I’d be interested in hearing any tales that you have to tell about the rise and fall of Monster Zero in 1989-1990 if you have them. Even if you don’t, check out the page, download the tracks, and play them to your family, friends, and progeny so they subconsciously develop a love for ska and funk music, Godzilla movies, learning to play an instrument beyond Rock Band, and insuring that illicit backyard high school keg parties entertained by cover bands continues to be part of the fabric of growing up, wherever you are in the world.

That’s a lot of work. I sortof miss doing the fun stuff, like designing the covers and labels I used to do, but that’s even more work. Here’s the list of the main compilations from DJ Lurk in chronological order.

  1. 1996 – DJ Lurk – Excursion on the Version (1 x 90 min cassette, mixed)
  2. 1997 – DJ Lurk – Volume 0 (1 x CD)
  3. 1998 – DJ Lurk – Volume 1 (1 x CD)
  4. 1999 – DJ Lurk – Volume 2 (1 x CD)
  5. 2000 – DJ Lurk – Volume 3 (2 x CD)
  6. 2001 – DJ Lurk – Volume 4 (2 x CD)
  7. 2002 – DJ Lurk – Volume 5 (2 x CD)
  8. 2003 – Deceptikons – ElektroBubbleGum (2 x CD, mixed)
  9. 2004 – Deceptikons – Obey (3 x CD)
  10. 2005 – Deceptikons – Destroy All Monsters (2 x CD)
  11. 2006 – Deceptikons – Universal: Past, Present, Future (3 x CD)
  12. 2007 – Deceptikons – Soundwave’s Old Sk0ol Hip Hop Mix (1 x MP3, mixed)
  13. 2008 – DJ Lurk – Angels + Demons (2 x CD)
  14. 2009 – DJ Lurk – UP and DOWN (2 x CD)
  15. 2010 – DJ Lurk – FESTIVUS: Grievances and Strength (2 x CD)

Doing some last minute audio cleanup on The Airing of Grievances and the Feats of Strength for release later this month. Anyone else out there still have old physical media? Big Love from DJ Lurk.

“it’s been a long time…I shouldn’t have left you / Without a strong rhyme to step to”

That is the opening lyric to Erik B and Rakim’s legendary and elemental “You Know You Got Soul“. It always humbles me to re-learn this fundamental fact of life every time I am alone and I turn up my stereo. Because my sound-producing systems are a power-sucking, overwhelming, disgustingly 70’s speaker-studded monstrosity that has not stretched its wicked claws in almost a year. With Kleptus and teh Office Qween (and the loveable brats) moving upstairs, the animal is waking from slumber. It misses it’s counterpart, a big stainless steel bear affectionately called Teh Kegerator. I might point out that using a Kegerator (especially if you have a Kvar system in place) is actually greener than recycling all those cans and bottles. Walk the walk, bitches.

So I am totally head-over-heels in love with Chicane featuring Natasha Bedingfield – Bruised Water. That link is specifically the Adam K Remix. It’s been a long time…since I have heard a track that every single version is stellar. Plus, it helps that Natasha Bedingfield is crazy fuckin’ hawt. I had to search for this, but check out the original video with the updated mix. But let’s not get twisted; the message and the mermaid from the original remix outing is drool-fuel, too.

“so let down my guard / drop my defenses / down by my clothes…I’m learning to fall / with no safety net / to cushion the blow”

That’s about where I am at, but moving steadily on radar. Stay tuned; especially to Mordenkainen’s Parlour.

Here’s the backstory: currently on Facebook, it is all the rage to use your Notes application (read: blog) to write up 25 random facts about yourself, then “tag” 25 other people to make them have to do the same thing. Personally, I think that this was started by the Facebook people themselves as a way to introduce people / drive traffic to the Facebook blog functionality, and since my WP imports via RSS to FB, I figure I’d do it here so that people can get their fix and stop tagging me.

Original rules (as in, I didn’t write this schlock):

“Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)”

25 Random Things:

  1. I am a better human beat box than Justin Timberlake
  2. If you ask me what one word describes me best, I will always reply with “lucky”
  3. I still suffer from ADHD just like I did when I was a child, but I am better at masking it; I do wish, however, that my metabolism had kept up with the rest of the handicap
  4. I have always been in love with being in love, with music, with friendship, with my family, and with you
  5. I have been known to embellish a story or two, but usually it is due to my tendency to describe my friends and acquaintances as movie-worthy comic book heroes, which is born from a deep respect for their individuality
  6. I often wonder what would have happened if Monster Zero had accepted the gig to open up for No Doubt on their first West Coast Tour in the summer / fall of 1990
  7. I would be happy if I could just listen to music, select cool tracks, and play them at loud volume to interesting people all of the time
  8. For some reason, in some election I was not made aware of, I am the de facto communications hub for a bazillion people; you look up Murdoch if you want to randomly communicate with someone who you lost track of years ago, and somehow I have some sort of last known contact info
  9. Possibly the greatest thing I have ever done is the eulogy I gave Chris Feher after he died doing what he loved: rock climbing Half Dome in Yosemite by himself
  10. I hate children, especially babies, but apparently, they love Unkle Mike, and this fact never fails to humble me
  11. Speaking of luck, I was lucky enough to be adopted at birth by the best parents in the world — Diane and Gordon — and what I can piece together about my biological parents is pretty crazy: Mom was from Massachusetts, married, and had three other children, aged 8, 9. and 11 when I was born; her husband was NOT my father; she was short, Swedish, and had blond curly hair; my dad was an Italian steelworker, son of an immigrant shoemaker who woke up one day to find a note from his wife that she was leaving him and half of the closet was gone; Mom’s husband had a nervous breakdown and was committed; this explains a lot of what is running around in my genetic pool — don’t blame the Murdochs
  12. I am the best party liaison this side of Van Wilder
  13. I have three home-produced album to my name under various alter-egos (see Pus & Zero Boy) and one professionally released 12″ single called “Everybody” that I did with Grant Goad and Andres Mijangos
  14. I am still very proud of all the work I did to become an Eagle Scout
  15. I wrote poetry every day for almost 15 years; most of it is available — tagged and searchable even — on my WordPress blog; my current favorites are “Cellardweller“, “I, Ape“, and, of course, “Froggacuda
  16. I often wish that everyone else could hear the soundtrack and audio effects track that accompanies my life
  17. I am a pack rat, especially for things that provoke nostalgia; for example, I still have many of my childhood toys — Legos, Transformers, Micronauts, etc. — and a box full of the stuff I had pinned / nailed to the walls of my room when I was in high school, such as Fishbone ticket stubs, a referral from Coach T (R.I.P.), and extra pictures of hot chicks I had crushes on from Yearbook class
  18. I have always owned a “strange” pet as well as my beloved cats ever since Linda Nickel bought me my first Emperor scorpion; currently I have Tuonetar Mac Mordenkainen, who is the third Mexican Red-Knee tarantula in a long line of wonderful arachnids I have loved
  19. I don’t code Web 2.0 anywhere near as well as I did Web 1.0
  20. I love jackets; first and foremost is my ska-patched black jacket, which used to be a bomber, but out of all the clothing you can wear, nothing beats the right jacket for the right occasion or situation
  21. I have been a true (4 elements, y’all!) fan of hip hop ever since seeing the Sugar Hill Gang perform “Rapper’s Delight” live on Solid Gold 1979; this seminal moment changed my life forever
  22. There is nothing better in life than having a good conversation filled with enthusiasm, a meeting of the minds, and laughter
  23. Being rejected in junior high school by the popular white folks as a glasses-wearing, uncool, too-smart nerd has served me well; I have good friends and strong cultural ties to non-white communities who have accepted me for who I am from then until the present day; this is one of my greatest sources of pride and what makes me wince when I have to choose “caucasian” on “optional” survey information
  24. I love language, especially since the world is made of it (see the collected works of Terence McKenna), and I have a fierce propensity towards sesquipedalianism just because long, multisyllabic words sound cool and are sometimes the key to doing what Salt & Pepa, Madonna, and Dr Dre during his NWA tenure said best: expressing one’s self
  25. There is nothing I value more in life than my friends; they are the Desiderata of my happiness, the real value in social networking, and many times, the only reason that I keep on keeping on, because I can’t do it all for myself

There we are: 25 random things about me. Feedback — as always — is very welcome. Have at!