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Christian Marclay: djTRIO

Christian Marclay: djTRIO


By Marc Masters | Posted 8/4/2004

For an artist whose work is so conceptual, Christian Marclay can really bring the noise. Known best as an experimental DJ (which he’s been since the 1970s, when there weren’t even many nonexperimental ones), Marclay has produced a wide range of impractical museum-only art, such as unplayable instruments, pillows crocheted out of unspooled audiotape, and floors tiled with CDs. But the commercially available recordings of his innovative turntable work, as abstract as they are, still deliver as much gut-level force as brain-level electricity.

DjTRIO, a collection of live performances by Marclay in trios with other turntablists, continues that stomach-punching/head-drenching tradition. Working at various points with DJ Olive, Toshio Kajiwara, Marina Rosenfeld, and Erik M., Marclay concocts a dense stew that often sounds like multiple soundtracks battling to cover a single film. Nothing here could be called a song, but there’s more drama, humor, and general attention-grabbing sound than most composed music can muster. Unidentifiable noises dart in and out, mixing with sly samples, clicking anti-beats, and slashing bursts of blare. Olive and Kajiwara are Marclay’s most frequent collaborators, and the tracks involving all three are the highlights: a set from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh pops and bites with every sound imaginable, while a show at Washington’s Hirshhorn Museum is fluid and wavy, a cresting pool of massaged clatter. But all of djTRIO is endlessly inventive—a barrage of lofty abstractions that’s as heavy as concrete.

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