There is DJ’ing, and then there is turntablism. The former lends context to existing music by putting pre-recorded sounds into a sequence, sometimes locating parallels through the creative use of layering. The latter takes the medium itself as its subject, working with familiar tools but often driving into abstract territory that provides a unique vantage point.
Take, for example, the bracing work of DJ Sniff (born Takuro Mizuta Lippit and pictured above), a Tokyo-educated musician who is associated with the experimental music labs at STEIM in Amsterdam. He has posted numerous files of his work up at djsniff.com, including “drum studies1” (MP3), which is an exemplary window onto his musical tactics.
The track bears the hallmarks of a DJ in action — the backward motion, the surface texture, the way that familiar sounds are distorted by tactile techniques, and the use of variable speeds. The result, though, is a work that at first sounds chaotic, yet slowly reveals its own sense of responsibility to the listener, building up bountiful noises that verge on the orchestral, but always bringing it back to the basics, rarified bits that bring to mind funky gears. More details, video, and music at djsniff.com (from which the above images is borrowed).