In a decade marked by the ubiquity of mashups and plunderphonics, few artists have taken compositional deejaying into such an interesting realm as DJ /rupture. The Brooklyn native created something truly inspired and awe-inspiring on recordings like Uproot and The Minesweeper Suite, blending hip-hop with drum & bass, noise with dancehall, and basically anything followed by an exclamation point, question mark or ellipsis into a focused and furious piece of dance art. Just one year after Uproot, /rupture has returned with Solar Life Raft, a collaboration with fellow New Yorker Matt Shadetek that finds the duo attempting a different sort of mashup, that being one of their own talents.
Solar Life Raft follows in the vein of DJ /rupture’s previous sets, but with more of a downtempo vibe. Created by /rupture, a.k.a. Jace Clayton, and Shadetek on a three-turntable setup, the mix is a seamless and dense mix of sounds, with source material ranging from classical composer Nico Muhly, to poet Elizabeth Alexander (who spoke at the inauguration of President Barack Obama), to experimental post-rockers Gang Gang Dance. And while the mood is often a laid back one, the product is never less than enthralling.
Given the eclectic nature of the material on Solar Life Raft, it flows together remarkably well, which is a testament to the duo’s acumen. A slightly recognizable remix of Gang Gang Dance’s “Bebey” transitions into a brief ambient piece by Finnish avant garde outfit Paavoharju, followed by a dancehall mashup that amplifies the energy considerably while maintaining a downtempo beat. The duo’s own “Underwater High Rise” is a particular standout here, a glorious mélange of buzzes and thuds, which gives way to the ethereal, dramatic reworking of Pumajaw’s “Buds.” Poet Caroline Bergvall’s voice makes for an interesting change of pace as it cuts through the sputtering beats of “More Pets,” and Nico Muhly’s “Mothertongue: pt. 1” takes the mix into a serene and spacious galaxy before Mizz Beats’ “Blue Night” gets the beats moving again.
The material that makes up the “ingredients” to Solar Life Raft (which the duo released as a free mixtape on its own), is a compelling enough mixture of pieces and songs. Yet DJ /rupture and Matt Shadetek piece them together in an even more interesting manner, finding links and bridges where there ordinarily wouldn’t appear to be any. Solar Life Raft doesn’t pull the usual trick of making for a hot dance mix, as many DJ sets are wont to do, but what it lacks in dancefloor command it makes up for in aural dazzle.
DJ /rupture – Uproot
The Bug – London Zoo
DJ Spooky – The Secret Song
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.