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V/A - How to Kill the DJ, Pt. 1

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Artist: V/A

Album: How to Kill the DJ, Pt. 1

Label: Tigersushi

Review date: Aug. 22, 2003

Let This One Live

In the film 24 Hour Party people, the character of Tony Wilson juxtaposes how the famed Hacienda club went from being a place where punks could dance to live bands, and thus celebrating the punk art, to a place where they stopped paying attention to the bands and celebrated the DJ; how we got from celebrating the artist to celebrating the conduit that played the artists.

Now in 2003, you can’t swing a dead fashion statement in a town without hitting a DJ. Its almost as if there are too many DJ’s and not enough parties; maybe if there were compilations as good as this one, letting the kid with the extended dub mix of “Easy Lover,” would just extinguish a burner.

For Tigersushi’s recent compilation, the irony level is exceeding in its title, How To Kill The DJ. Not only is it a mix, but it showcases Ivan Smagghe – a resident DJ at the monthly “Kill The DJ” nights at Paris club Le Pulpe, a club that boasts “Paris’ most beautiful lesbians and Paris’ shittiest soundsystem”. Here he gets to showoff his live skills as adhered to the aesthetic of said night (naughty, subversive dance music, relentless mix with little breathing room, and an emphasis more on bass than ironic mashups). Opening with “Helsinki Blondes,” by the artist Roger, Smagghe sets the tone of the evening: heavy bass, 4 on the floor beats and swirling synths as the chant of “Helsinki Blondes” leads into the rhythmic whip and cowbell drive of Captain Comatose’s (aka Khan Oral) airy “Wonderkidd”.

The other ironic factor in this collection is the use of ’80s songs; one would assume that with such a title, the DJs at Le Pulp would not adhere to the popular style of “mashups” or as James Murphy put it, “borrowed nostalgia from the unremembered eighties”. But maybe Smagghe was there; here, he throws in two songs by Ministry and Soft Cell. The former – “I wanted to tell her” gets a proper re-working from Naom Gabo, and while it is from the groups worst time period (the With Sympathy album, far from the industrial beat assault they became popular for), Gabo’s remix finds a middle ground between the b-side “dub mixes” of yore, and Tigerbeat6’s relentless bootleg chicanery.

The latter, “Memorabillia” gets re-worked by the “Kill The DJ” crew – Smaghee and members of the Scottish mash unit Optimo to name a few. Eight minutes of blazing electro house bleeds into a mob of screaming dancers with one girl frantically chanting “LSD” as her mantra. Thankfully, the use of ’80s music is not overdone at all; it’s more of a subtle nuance, unlike many “electro-dance” compilations of today.

In the end, it’s not often that you can find a mix CD that truly conveys the party aspect of the club it attempts to represent; often times it comes off hallow and uninspired. Thankfully, How To Kill The DJ is a wonderful passport from a part of Paris that you can only hear.

By Stephen Sowley

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