Hip-hop’s pioneers — Afrika Bambaataa, Kool DJ Herc, and Grandmaster Flash — are often acclaimed as the originators of the cut and paste technique in music: a boogie down brand of sonic collage. But, while they were rocking the block, artist Christian Marclay was sculpting his own intricately offbeat soundscapes. Perhaps more famous for dissecting clocks, the performer appeared on the late 80’s series Night Music, hosted by jazz cat David Sanborn, showcasing his adventures on the wheels of steel.
As WFMU points out, the show’s guest list was a veritable who’s who of experimental sounds, with Pere Ubu, John Zorn, Diamanda Galas, and others performing for the telly. This 1989 performance by Marclay finds the artist mixing up raw electronics with a bit of exotica — textured, dissonant, abrasive turntablism. He creates a disorienting weave of textures, lurching from a music concrete style barrage of bleeps to soothing tropical sounds. Using skips and pops etched into the discs to create repetitive rhythms, Marclay’s desecration of dusty LPs creates a beguiling synthesis. It’s a discomforting sound, but that’s what we love most about these uneasily pleasing early works. Hit the jump for the video: and brace for the horror that is Sanborn’s hair.