The latest release on Mikrowave is the first of a series to be released entitled Elements. Described as 'part musical experiment, part creative resource,' this release offers both full length tracks and a series of stripped back versions containing the individual sounds that make up the whole. While the tracks themselves are good quality peak time techno, (i included a couple are on a recent mix I recorded) it was the selling of the individual parts that caught me eye.
I have to say this is an interesting idea. Hawtin's DE9 Transitions and the accompanying videos showcased the huge potential of live remixing, combining elements from different records in a live DJ set. If you are Richie Hawtin, elements that make up a track are relatively easy to come by- people send you clips, basslines, syth lines etc ready to use. But for anyone else it involves complicated and time consuming clipping of the original record- until now, that is. For the digital or laptop DJ this will open up a whole dimension of possibilites, as Kevin Gorman says, a truly 'creative resource'.
But I remain intrigued by what this means for the DJ. As a traditional hardware based DJ (ie: CD's and vinyl) , I play tracks I like, i've spent a considerable amount of money buying, and want to hear in their entirety. When I make a mix there are few occasions when I have more than two tracks playing. A lot of well known DJ's on the scene are vinyl junkies, and the 12" remains their medium of choice. On the other hand, some of my favourite DJ's are much more creative, using multiple decks, efx and samplers- making loops, cutting between parts of tracks, laying sounds, and pushing the music in new directions.
This is where the crux of the my question lies- at what point does the DJ become a live artist? Should the two be differentiated? With the amount of technology available, will the DJ soon be replaced by what we would now consider live artists, using layered elements of other people's music to create unique remixes on the fly? Will this be a bad thing or a good thing? Can both continue to exist? Does it really matter?