For this season’s Minted Chaos theme, Refraction asked four DJs who have a creative relationship to chaos to explore its full spectrum in their mixes—both from a selection and technique standpoint—and to reflect on how chaos relates to their practice.
At face value, the idea of the loop is antithetical to chaos. It is consistent, repetitive, forever the same. But underneath that circular uniformity, the loop is always at risk of being undone. It's a veneer of predictability hiding a tendency for entropy. Or, at least, that's what happens to the loop in the hands of Pure Rave. Across their Refraction Mix, the Detroit collective put together a mix using LoopTube, four browser windows, and a microphone.
As they explain: "This is fragile music in that its semblance of musical relatability is subjective. We drift in and out of this composition being considered music listening. BPM seems irrelevant, yet somewhat intact."
The result is as chaotic as it is ordered. Identifiable loops slip in and out of one another as words and sounds emerge in stuttering fits-and-starts. A saxophone briefly emerges only to be swallowed up by choppy cuts. The unmistakable techno assault of Jeff Mills' "Phase 4" turns uncanny, projected through the refracted pixelation of 1000 browser windows.
The chaos that emerges from this cacophony of internet ephemera and techno history is more than just pastiche. There's also an archaeological care to their work: "When you mash a handful of numbers together into the YouTube search bar, you get a bunch of videos that come up with little to no views—forgotten to the cloud never to be heard from again. Until now, when chaos brings these digital artifacts to the shore, and we use a split second of their content to create a percussive element."
This is, like many of the other Refraction Chaotic Mixes, as much about deconstruction as it is reconstruction. Setting aside expectations about DJing and falling into the out-of-time morass of Pure Rave's mix is to be reminded of the sheer wonder that electronic music can bring.
Pure Rave - Looptube Set 8-31-22
Vladislav Delay - Untitled Loops,Take 2
Hoon - CBL
Pansonic - Koilinen
Shigaeki Saegusa - ME
Kinesthsia - Triachus
Jeff Mills - Phase 4
Pure Rave is a collective based in Detroit, Michigan, is an ongoing experiment in "chance dance". Using various prepared turntables, "damaged" records, the occasional drum machine, rudimentary CDDJ loops, and 133.33 bpm loops. The effect is an indeterminate arrangement of patterns and rhythmic sonic collage. Real-time experimentation with the goal of hitting your pleasure center for whatever your brain thinks is interesting.
Set amidst the context of contemporary Detroit electronic music, the group has no trouble finding endless bins of trashed Midwestern dance records and no problem hosing them off in the front yard of their apartment building. Cheap or free turntables of questionable condition are also bountiful in this town.
Expanding on techniques developed by experimentalists Christian Marclay, Pierre Schaeffer, Otomo Yoshihide, Maria Chavez, Qbert, Graham Dunning, Institut Fuer Feinmotorik, and anyone who's ever enjoyed what happens when their record starts skipping, Core members Nick George, Bryan Dulaney, Will Lawson and Cy Tulip approach the Pure Rave project as a set of rules and limitations for an inaccessible academic experimental music scene and vapid modern DJ culture. In Fluxus-like fashion, the result is often humorous.
Nick - @powahgen
Bryan - @bleft_lord
Will - @perlex_
Cy - @whatnowhyohgod