Did you catch that sample of Chef from Apocalypse Now
in the remix of DJ Spooky’s Optometry
? Not Dennis Hopper or Marlon Brando, but the crazed boatmen who transport Martin Sheen up the river and into the heart of darkness are sampled here.
There have to be cosmic implications for quoting Apocalypse Now, or perhaps Apocalypse Now Redux.
Since Peter Gordon’s Thirsty Ear label and its producer Matthew Shipp are melding hip hop culture and jazz, a remix project such as Dubtometry makes a natural next step.
But let’s back up. Shipp invited DJ Spooky to produce Optometry, an album of scratches and samples together with a cast of stellar jazz musicians. To many listeners, it was both one of the best recordings of 2002 and closest jazz has ever integrated with hip-hop.
Where in 1963 a great concept would have musicians playing covers of favorite tracks, 2003 finds DJs and sound artists remixing tracks, changing beats, adding samples, and scratching over favorite breaks.
Dubtometry spins many different forms and messages, all seemingly revolving around the recognizable voice of Lee “Scratch” Perry. There is the sleepy echoed dub of Twilight Circus, chillin’ flute and hand drumming echoes from Blend, and Colorform’s dancehouse beats. Negativland curbs Snuggles and U2 for cut-up spoken words. The different approaches maintain pieces and parts of the original music, Joe McPhee’s trumpet and Carl Hancock Rux’s violin can be found.
Fans of the amazing Optometry will catch the original recipe that is morphed into these treats. Is this as good as the original? No, because DJ Spooky’s whole concept is divided into multiple approaches and ideas. Perhaps there should have been a dozen remix projects for a dozen whole concepts.