Music

DJ Olive: Heaps As

Even the jokes of Tasmanian Devil cartoons are fresher than what you experience here.


DJ Olive

Heaps As: Live in Tasmania

Label: Agriculture
US Release Date: 2006-04-04
UK Release Date: 2006-04-03
Amazon
iTunes

There are a lot of DJs out there who are dying to get attention. Some of them will release fat (phat?) beats to get their name out in the elite ring of rap go-to producers (Neptunes-level! Kanye-level!). Some will make old rock samples work as big beat floor burners (Daft Punk-level! Fatboy-level!). Some just like making cut-n-paste masterpieces that challenge the very notion of genre (DJ Shadow-level! Avalanches-level!). And then there are those who are content just being well-known, making interesting albums but not furthering the boundaries of music by any means. We have now reached DJ Olive's level.

While Olive has run with some elite company (John Zorn, Jim O'Rourke), he is perhaps best known for sharing a one-off release with percussionist Ikue Mori and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, the only release on Sonic Youth's SYR-imprint that wasn't by Sonic Youth. The album is a nocturnal journey into weirdness, avant-garde experimentalism, and general all-about studio fuckery. Olive threw a few interesting hats into that ring, but the project didn't congeal in the long-run, instead remaining a distinctive collector's item. Yet, when left to his own devices on Heaps As, Live in Tasmania, he simply cannot overcome a wall that one would think would be easily demolished by him: generality.

Though props should be given to this live release for practically eliminating crowd noise altogether (making it sound like a genuine studio album), such a technical feat is lost in the sea of blandness that is released in Tasmania. Though his skills as a live improviser have been well documented, here there are no signs of wild openness with his material: he simply adds layers to other layers that were fine as they were. The faint Latin-horn sample at the start of "Dancing With Poxy Stingers" gives way to a watery drum beat … and that's it. A slight change to a keyboard happens in the final third, but you otherwise have just been subjugated to music better suited for a waiting room. The title track rides a catchy electric-keyboard groove for roughly 90 seconds before devolving into mindless percussion exercises (which half the tracks are unforgivably guilty of). At least "Snail Trail in My Arms" plays drum taps against some fluffy keyboard movements, but this is an exception rather than the rule.

Overall, it is apparent that Olive suffers from lacking any sense of dynamics. In an unfair contrast (that however remains pertinent), a DJ Shadow session with radio personality Nic Harcourt showed that Shadow could improvise wildly with his selections, tossing in things as rare as a rapper rhyming the periodic table of elements together over a shifting drumline that moved from basement-recorded to near-orchestral on hairpin turns. Even the Chemical Brothers have managed to spice up and dynamically rearrange some of their better, well-known arrangements to make their live shows worth attending. Olive, however, only unleashes pretty acoustic-plucking loops in "They Make Us All Want to Hate Each Other, Don't Do It!" … and then repeats them for the entire song. He makes admiral attempts to be interesting with "Lila Dog" and the 10-minute closing epic "Time for You…", but can’t even keep that kind of momentum going for long.

As a chill-out CD, it's a fine -- if not completely memorable -- piece of work. As an artistic statement, it's not memorable at all. Even the jokes of Tasmanian Devil cartoons are fresher than what you experience here. Change of location, perhaps?

3

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.