From the opening of “Intro”, which quickly bleeds into “Bedroom”, it’s quite clear what exactly U.S.M! is and what it will be doing – which doesn’t detract from the pleasure of hearing it unfurl over 31 brief minutes. DJWWWW has created a mix that is entirely for, and entirely of, the internet age.
U.S.M! plays like a microworld representation of the digital age – a schizophrenic party mix at an ultra-hip house party being held right now. DJWWWW blends snippets of songs seamlessly together, but in such a way as to remove the initially intended pop sensibilities many of them once held in their original contexts. Whilst the majority of the samples are themselves taken from internet age artists, your AG Cooks, Death Grips, Oneohtrix Point Nevers and so on, there’s a unique pleasure in hearing them juxtaposed with the likes of Janet Jackson and Coldplay. Positioning such artists in the realm of avant-garde electronica is as bizarre as it is honest to god fun.
And that’s a huge part of this release. For all its avant-garde experimentalism, which to be sure is its core aesthetic ideal, U.S.M! is a goddamn delight to listen to. A huge part of this stems from the ‘can you pick the sample?’ bingo you can’t help but play when listening. For the large part, the song snippets are taken too far from their origin and presented in too short a presentation to quickly identify, which makes noticing that obscure bandcamp only electronica sample all the more satisfying. Though this isn’t the only pleasure of the album – again, for all the weirdness of it all, it ultimately remains an utterly listenable and enjoyable record, not something that can be said for every so-called avant-garde or experimental album. This is a release that revels in the dorky pleasures of mashing together samples to create the sentence, “Welcome back to be building of Yes!”
It’s all too easy to deride ‘internet music’, like that of the PC Music label or the vaporwave scene in general, as being based in novelty or too steeped in irony to hold any lasting value. Those who harbour such beliefs will not be won over by this release, but that doesn’t make such claims any more valid. Like many great records, U.S.M! is representative of a moment in time – a moment we’re experiencing right now. The rapid fire blending of samples and irregular appearances of traditional beats and actually recognisable song sections plays out like a typical evening of alt+tabing between windows and programs. We’re present, but how much are we absorbing? How much should be absorb? How identifiable are these Giant Claw samples meant to be? DJWWWW doesn’t answer these questions, nor does he judge the inherent modernity this reality represents. U.S.M! isn’t a statement or critique of the age we’re in, it’s a time capsule; open it as needed.