Dear Pan-Spiritual Internet Aether,
I’ve seen your ghosts screaming for attention behind my computer screen, frames from the minds of artists, musicians, businessmen and other children who will never stop growing, though the tracks they have left in your virtual sand, Internet Aether, have all the trappings of completion, awaiting a death by trampling. Are they screaming, or is it my own mind echoing into the cavernous imprints on the other side of my laptop? Forgive me, Internet Aether, but your charms have got me chatty. Let me get to the point. I’m here to review DJ Ole’s East Village Radio Friday Night Special, which aired on December 9th, 2011 at 6pm. It looks like this will be a weekly thing for him now. I enjoy a blast from the New Wave past, and DJ Ole is my boy, so I’m looking forward to it. I, of course, make no claims of this review’s impartiality…
I’m listening to the show as I’m writing this, so this is not even so much of a review as it is simply a view. Or rather, a listen. DJ Ole introduced himself as the dirty half of Jetlag, the clean part being none other that Andy Rourke, the bassist of Smiths fame, whose East Village Radio show is on Mondays at 2pm. The Human League’s Reflections was DJ Ole’s first blast of the evening.
Background makes things alive and the background here is that I was just starting to open my mind enough to eventually consider listening to the Human League when I first met DJ Ole in high school. I did not meet him as a DJ, but rather as a bass player. He had just moved from Brooklyn to the George Washington Bridge area of Jersey, and came with an ancient Hofner Violin Bass with the strings so far from the neck it was virtually impossible to play it. Which was probably why he technically didn’t, though he impressively slapped it around, which meant he was in the band. My heavy metal band. Which brings me to the point that the Human League was not on my musical palate yet, though I was already too cool for all the metal stuff and ready for something subtle, like Joy Division, which came with black lipstick, which came, incidentally, with the Smiths…
It was much later that I learned to appreciate the Human League’s English perspective on Motown and the whole Northern Soul thing. As a matter of fact, I just checked out their early stuff, as I had been meaning to, and so far their ’79 Reproduction album sounds like early Eno. They were too ever-present on commercial radio for me to give them a chance, even in the 90’s.
DJ Ole, however, brought a piece of Brooklyn with him in late 90’s Jersey, and as everyone knows, Brooklyn operates with the constant cultural backdrop of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Certain things never get uncool there, including the soulful side of New Wave. DJ Ole has a knack for picking out the gems from that current. His set so far has included Grace Jones’ Pull up to my Bumper and Cameo’s original Word Up – tracks that will inspire even the uninitiated.
Another flavor from DJ Ole’s early set was old-school hip hop with a double blast of The Boogie Boys and Ice T right off the bat. DJ Ole, a definite contemporary hip hop fan, holds the old school dear as more than just a historical reference. Brooklyn, where he lives again these days, may be the last place one can find rap fans who appreciate Kanye West and the Beastie Boys with the same passion.
DJ Ole and I became passionate about the darker side of New Wave in high school, and The Smiths were a definite threshold between intricate, deeply lyrical song writing, and pop music. Strangely enough Ole crossed paths with Andy Rourke and now they have a stellar project on the rise, namely Jetlag. Oleg’s compositions associated with the outfit are poetic and mature.
As for his DJ set, the early Brooklyn soulful influences have returned and flavored the poetry that has taken root in Ole’s heart since our high school days. The result is an intelligent party, equal part nostalgia and discovery of what you may have missed. Freestyle jams with class come to mind, like Surrender Your Love by Clear Touch, playing now. DJ Ole is a man of just enough words during his show, enough to provide context (“This is, after all, New York City,” he says as he eases us into the freestyle track). “Talk to me if you love New Order,” he says, and puts Shellshock on.
Memories of my days of falling from grace with style, like a punk band that discovers New Wave rush into my mind, and perhaps I’ll talk about that in my next entry. For now, I’m going to let DJ Ole do his thing. Listen along, here is the link.