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POP MUSIC REVIEWS

Recombinant DJs Dazzle

November 11, 1996|D. JAMES ROMERO

The Recombinant dance music showcase at American Legion Hall on Saturday night brought together old and new beat cultures under one roof. From the dazzling disc spinning of world champion hip-hop deejays to the strange techno sounds of New York's DJ Spooky, the evening combined the various schools of rhythm for a fascinating show that ran from 7:30 p.m. to well after midnight.

The highlight was a battle between two splendid deejay crews--one from the East Coast, the other from the West--that was simply spellbinding. San Francisco's Invisible Skratch Picklz crew (which includes Mixmaster Mike, Q-Bert and Shortkut) brought down the house with a magical, richly improvisational performance.

This set often saw Mixmaster Mike and Shortkut creating new beats on a single turntable by back-spinning their vinyl and reintroducing a groove repeatedly. Q-Bert then injected his lightning-quick record scratches that were as thrilling as hearing a "live" solo.

The music by New York's X-Men, including Roc Raider, Rob Swift and Mista Sinista, may not have packed the punch of Picklz, but the crew's technical skills are unparalleled. The team combined wicked bass lines and a fat jazz sax scratch.

After that battle, New York's DJ Spooky mixed head-bobbing hip-hop with up-tempo drum-and-bass (a.k.a. "jungle"--the new school of techno). It was strange, but informative. After all, where would the new school be without the old--or the West Coast be without the East?

In the evolution of pop, it's easy to forgot that humans were all made to dance. Saturday's show was a rare but much needed event that broke down the walls of convention to celebrate the reemergence of pop's increasingly powerful primal beat aesthetic.

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