Paul D. Miller, best known as DJ Spooky, is about to release his first full-length solo album in nearly a decade. But he’s been far from idle. In the new millennium, he’s issued conceptual mix CDs (from Modern Mantra to Under the Influence), collaborated with other musicians (including pianist Matthew Shipp for Optometry and Twilight Circus Dub Sound System for Riddim Clash), created audio/visual projects (including last year’s Antarctica adventure) and written a few books. But for those of us who remember the 90s “subliminal kid” who called his dub-strained beats “illbient” and worked with Kool Keith and Pharoahe Monch, The Secret Song is a long-awaited event.
Set for release on October 6 via Thirsty Ear Recordings, The Secret Song features collaborations with Thurston Moore, the Jungle Brothers, the Coup, Rob Swift and Mike Ladd. Check below for an excerpt from the press release. As is typical of the loquacious Spooky, it goes on a bit, so pull up a chair.
Thirsty Ear Recordings is excited to announce the release of DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid’s latest manifesto titled “The Secret Song.” Set for an Oct. 6 release, the new record marks DJ Spooky’s sixth full-length album and will feature guest appearances from notable artists and musicians such as Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, The Jungle Brothers, The Coup, Rob Swift, Mike Ladd and many others. “The Secret Song” is a groundbreaking meditation on hip-hop and electronic music’s relationship to philosophy, economics, and the science of sound in a world where the steady drumbeat of the financial meltdown has made music the last refuge of young people with less and less time and money.
It’s been a while since DJ Spooky has released a new album of his own material, but this constantly and famously creative force, also known as Paul D. Miller, has been anything but idle. Over the last couple of years, Miller has shot films in Antarctica, remixed a controversial piece of cinema history, and produced two of MIT Press’ top-selling recent books.
In his role as DJ Spooky, the recording artist and producer, Miller has worked with or remixed everyone from Metallica to Yoko Ono; from the Kronos Quartet to Killah Priest. Even the master of collage rock, Beck, remixed DJ Spooky for his first series of mixes online. Miller’s most recent work was a series of compilations and remixes of Jamaican dub and reggae. Now, after endless touring and a vast array of projects in just about every conceivable media, Miller found time to lock himself in his studio and lay down the tracks for this new project, “The Secret Song.”
With material taken from collaborations with people as diverse as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, to Vijay Iyer, old school African hip-hop legends Zimbabwe Legit, stunning turntablist Rob Swift (the legendary leader of The X-ecutioners), to political hip-hop from The Coup, The Jungle Brothers, Mike Ladd, and Abdul Smooth from India, DJ Spooky connects the dots between jazz, classical music, and the struggle to create new, dynamic relationships between old school hip-hop and the 21st century’s rapidly changing info-culture landscape. Showcasing Spooky’s eclecticism and ever-present desire to spotlight a great amount of musical genres and causes from all around the world, the album’s lead single “Azadi” (which means “Freedom” in Farsi and is sung by Iran’s Sussan Deyhim) was released in conjunction with “A Day of Solidarity With the People of Iran” as a free download with Artists 4 Freedom.
On “The Secret Song,” DJ Spooky looks to bands like Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead for inspiration, as he flips old school and new school sounds into a sonic fiction landscape where rock meets dub and experimental jazz; where he can re-construct a classic song of a band that is one of the most sampled bands in hip-hop, like Led Zeppelin, make dub out of it and add strings by the Golden Hornet Project. “The Secret Song” is an album that puts DJ Spooky’s brand of conceptual hip-hop front-and-center with eerily accessible reconstructions only an artist such as himself could possibly formulate.
According to DJ Spooky, his new album ironically refers to a few notable elements. The first being that “The Secret Song” is made by failed ATM transactions, credit card fraud, jazz motifs made into stock exchanges, and the futures market. Secondly, it is an album that says 2012 isn’t the end of time, like the Mayan Calendar says – it’s just the end of the last Walmart. Additionally, the album exposes the economics of music as the music industry as we know it goes through massive transformation – it’s the new Stop and Shop of the Mind. And lastly, “The Secret Song” has tracks hidden in barcode throughout most of downtown Manhattan. Don’t believe him? Swipe your IPhone anywhere you see a barcode. And so with “The Secret Song,” we look back at the 20th century and see a couple of massive changes that put it in, what DJ Spooky calls, “history through lens of the sample.”
Following in the steps of The Cinematic Orchestra’s rescore of Dziga Vertov’s cinema classic “Man with A Camera,” “The Secret Song” album will be accompanied by a DVD of a rare film from the Russian Revolution, the 1924 film “Kino-Glaz” (Cinema Eye) by the renowned Russian Director Dziga Vertov. DJ Spooky rescored the film and remastered the footage in New York for the DVD to serve as a companion-piece to his new album.