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Blackhouse DJ

Published in 'Leaving Jericho' by Arthur Watson and Doug Cocker (Johm-David Mooney Foundation, 2003)




‘A long time ago in a bothy far away, a collective of electronic musicians from Scotland were subconsciously drawn to a higher purpose.’[1]


‘[The DJ/producer] appears as a paradoxical avatar of the popular music of oral tradition, ignorant of authors’ royalties and the copyright economy.’[2]


Underground electronica from the bothy. The songs and the tales of the bards, their old looping melodies and repetitive refrains resonating in bothy and blackhouse.

Caught in an ancient evolution of song, thriving on mutations and transfigurations which cloak the inner narrative – the bard is sampler and processor in his own mind, maintaining momentum whilst managing memories laden with landscapes phantastic. Browsing for the song or the melody deep in the record-racks of his memory, searching for verses like samples. Fresh new song every time. Extra verses, ne’er before sung cut like with crossfader into the mix. Re-work the melody, hijack old tunes like nothing is sacred. With mnemonic sampling, there is no original, there is no author. Just the bard, spinning yarns teased apart then re-spun to a different pattern... spinning the threads of the tale like tracks on records. This mix will not be bootlegged.

In the singing blackhouse are different rules: apocalypse down the glen... fairyland at the croft’s foot. Repetitive melodies ribbon into liminal realms of elves and god, ghosts and lucifer, or run overland to castles remote and loves unrealised. Secrets revealed within the hieroglyphs of the tale – twisted, fractured, and re-assembled, yet within an inner thrust that thrives on modification. This is the never-finishing, the always-alive story at the centre remixed and re-edited and performed only once. Share this performance – one, only once. One chance to re-activate memory here. Active repertoire like throbbing beat or backbone story, fluffed-out with nods and winks to the great mythopoeic network of signs, old songs and recognised melodies. Tune!

Forever unfinished, always deferred in a performance that oscillates between appropriation and disappropriation, translation and critique. This is DIY culture.


‘[The DJ] is listener-performer, but first and foremost a “ferryman” or programmer: connoisseur and collector, musical archaeologist and evangelist, he appropriates what he hears and redistributes it to others’[3]


Ferryman on the sonic fjord, sonar-listening to memory like currents underneath.

Don’t pay him. Underground, or underwater: from kelpie’s lair to electrobass boom there are no author’s royalties, no copyright economy. Psychic tradition of archives of verse or vinyl. Straightest course hijacking the currents. Weave thru.

The thinking is that we are linking back. DJ as bard.

Sonic stitching tweed mottles to fractal fronds – rhizome knitting. Recognise the refrain, the repeat tessellation. Recognise the sample. Check. Tracking through with the bard who leads from memory like frantic record-browsing. This is surrealist strategy: collaging heterogenous sound-events. Melodic landscapes subservient to syntax, remembered like echoes and peopled with fervent beings.

Bard and DJ are sonic cartographers making new maps. Into the focused out of the unfocused. The face of the devil, the race of the Sidhe, the witch and the lover over there deep in memory-thickets. Nonverbal or verbal, sonorous mediators for otherworlds. Behind the song and the loop sits the hallucination, collective unconscious mapping thru sound. Listener gripped by this collection of minds and carried ecstasy-bound whisky-eyed and shaman-led across the meta-glyph land and back again, only once... only this time... Carry us through the terror of black mountaintop transaction of spirit or bass-driven abyssal journey under tapping hi-hats and back again.

A bard with headphones – listening...


[1] Review of Alba Absurdia album (Alba ABsurdia, 2002) Boomkat website (

[2] During, Elie  Appropriations: Deaths of the Author in Electronic Music in Dávila, Mela (ED) Sonic Process (Museu d’Art Conremporani de Barcelona, 2002)

[3] ibid p53

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