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Deadheads, Doors and live supercuts

Jennifer Lucy Allan

Sounds that weren't meant to be recorded have an uncanny quality. It's these that superimpose scenes of animated yet soulless bodies on Oscar Powell's recent 12"s, Body Music (Diagonal), and an untitled 12" (on Boomkat's Death Of Rave). Sounds taken from live bootlegs of New York No Wave groups – like chickens jerkily strutting around the yard with no heads – pure motor movements minus autonomy and intention.

Talking to Powell for the March issue of the magazine got me thinking about these bits in between live sets. In Powell's music they are what makes his sound so uncomfortable – that which separates it, in terms of its construction, crowbarring apart beats and guitar twangs, and on a macro level, lifting it above the dense forests of hi-fidelity frequencies currently populating dancefloors. A trail of hyperlinks led inevitably to a series of live supercuts.

The first, a year of The Grateful Dead warming up: every single tune up on from 1977 spliced together in chronological order, in one hour and a half supercut. Far from being utterly unlistenable, (even for a non-Deadhead like myself) it's charged with audience anticipation, a giddy anticipation audible behind the endless meanderings, recast awkwardly as one long improvisation, scattered with rogue hi-hats and dribbling riffs.

A hyperlinked wormhole led to this, a shorter 15 minute supercut of sections in between live tracks by The Doors (by @JS_666). This is a different beast – a psychedelic wormhole of unhinged madness, false starts and MC Escher-like beginnings and endings, woven into the frayed ends of tassled carpets.

The Doors – Absolutely Edit

There's also this, 37 solid minutes of Neil Young & Crazy Horse descending into and ascending from a vortex of riffage. Here, the in-between bits are sonic manfestations of trains of thought, threads followed, and how long is a piece of string when you're talking Neil Young & Crazy Horse? They lose the thread, take it up again, follow tangents, but always loop back, to riffs on riffs on riffs. Arc was released on a major in 1991, bundled as a double pack with Weld.

These supercuts have an entirely different atmosphere than a) listening to any of these groups live or recorded, and b) listening to most other recorded music. You could compare these edits to improvisations, but that's not fair. The stuff here is a step before improvisation – these are run downs, shake 'em offs, and tune ups, the endless wind/whine down by groups that get lost – the sound of being in The Zone (or not).

As a signing off note: the difficult matter of stage banter. Joni Mitchell is rubbish at it. Fugazi were feral. And then there's this, a supercut of Geordie Venom frontman Cronos introducing tracks, squawking hoarsely about Newcastle Brown while an audience member screams "I WANT A DRINK!".

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I think sampling can be an overlooked art form. The source material Powell samples lifts his music to the next level. Sonically reminds me of early Cabaret Voltaire.

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