The saga of the wandering
All Tomorrow’s Parties is only the most high-profile of beleaguered avant-garde offerings from this (or rather last) year’s UCLA Performing Arts schedule. Most distressing was the delay, relocation then sudden cancellation of Turnament, an unprecedented weekend-long showcase for several dozen of the planet’s most celebrated and obscure turntable artistes, ranging from Grand Wizzard Theodor (inventor of scratching) to outlaw Canadian plunderphonic sampler John Oswald and Japanese new-music renaissance man Yoshihide Otomo. Happily, Turnament’s mastermind/impresario David Cotner (also keeper of the indispensable experimental music resource www.hertz-lion.com) has persevered and organized a pared-down version for Friday night at the Derby.
While most of the more familiar names have disappeared from the roster, Cotner has managed to retain the stylistic sweep and international flavor of his original vision. With DJs as well known as local hero Icy Ice (radio star, one of the dozen or so Beat Junkies, and Stacks Records mogul), Frisco’s battle-circuit veteran and Hamster Breaker Quest and San Antonio trainspotter Jester (late of Lonestar crew the Underdog Turntablists, funky sampler of St. Shooby Taylor, both driver and grillman for the Boca Burger Mobile Kitchen), and as hardcore noisy as Aussie contender DJ Smallcock (who employs Freddie Krueger–glove styli on a platter spinning 3,000 RPM to sometimes mutilating effect) and Emil Beaulieau (RRR figurehead and master of the four-armed turntable), Turnament is sure to have something to offend everyone.
In addition to holdovers from the original lineup, Cotner’s dug up a few surprises. You ask, whatever happened to The Rappin’ Duke? Ask no more — the John Wayne sound-alike MC who in the early ’80s rapped “Sure I rustled some cattle and tended the sheep/but my main concern was rapping to the beat” is the sick glue holding together this evening of wildly divergent styles, making his first L.A. appearance in 15 years. Another historical milestone will be the appearance of 1970s freak enclave Los Angeles Free Music Society founders Ace and Duce in what seems to be their second live show ever. Their rare original recordings included on archival collections like Transparency’s Blorp Essette sound far out to this day, so it’s anyone’s guess what this reunion holds.
Other local luminaries include longtime racketeer AMK, whose sound-generating strategies include rotating stitched-up Frankenstein flexi-discs on Califone decks; beat-sensitive Internet collagists Dublab Soundsystem; and David Woodward, who headlines the Derby Room with a demonstration of the hallucinogenic turntable-driven strobe-generating Dreamachine developed by Brion Gysin (William Burroughs’ other third). This second stage will also host a 7-inch dancehall set by Dutch DJ Meeeuw and an “anti-concert” delivered by English power electronics pioneers the New Blockaders, best known for their long-term collaboration with drone legends Organum.
From its inception, Turnament was intended to be the first in a series, and Cotner is already laying plans for the next installment. Attendees at Friday’s proceedings may sense they’re at ground zero of a new Zeitgeist, or they may just be getting into gear for the following day’s sonic buffet aboard the Queen Mary, but it’s a sure thing they’ll come away with a radical redefinition of the record player.
Turnament at the Derby, 4500 Los Feliz Blvd.; Friday, November 7, 9:30 p.m.; $25, $20 UCLA students with I.D. (323) 663 8979; firstname.lastname@example.org for advance ticket sales info; more info at www.the-derby.com.