I feel the overwhelming urge to yell from the mountaintop about a wonderful song, a hard-hitting, densely-layered jam that should be erupting from stereo systems across this nation, and the world – but there’s a problem. I can’t post a link to a stream of the song. It just isn’t available. This is a strangely modern dilemma, and it raises an interesting question: if a song isn’t available to stream on the internet, does it exist?
The song I want to share is “Gamma Burst” from Riddim Clash, a collaborative album from DJ Spooky and Twilight Circus Dub Sound System. But I can’t share it. When I do these little write-ups and include a link to the song, I can at least fantasize that readers are breathlessly clicking the link and listening raptly to the obscure and wonderful sounds therein. They can take or leave my loopy, grandiloquent descriptions, but the sounds are immutable, the link abides.
But here, that relationship is sundered, unconsummated. I can tell you that Gamma Burst is built around a monolithic drumbeat, a looped, neck-snapping phrase that hits like a silo explosion every time. I can go on about the wailing sirens, reverbed tribal drums and electronic bloops and bleeps that swirl like purple and green fog around that marching iron golem of a beat. I can also tell you that basslines, saxophones and lilting flutes come come and go, voices emerge out of and recede into the ether and throughout it all, the beat strides heavily on.
Is this Dub? This question might matter if the song existed, but since it has to be tracked down rather than instantly streamed, the question is meaningless. Other meaningless questions include: What was the division of labor on the song? Who the heck is DJ Spooky? Who is Twilight Circus Dub Sound System? Are these samples or live instrumentation? Why isn’t this song better known?
Obscurity is strange and often cruel. The internet was built partially to house all the useless knowledge of its billions of users. Angelfire and Geocities websites devoted to anime fanfiction likely live on in climate-controlled server rooms in the suburbs of St. Louis. And yet Gamma Burst, this fantastic Dub masterpiece – by all rights deserving of enjoyment ranging from sweaty physical accolade to steely nighttime headnod – wallows in a deeper cavern of obscurity, one that takes the effort of multiple google searches and the downloading of hard data to unearth. To the millennial generation, this is an unpleasantry analogous to what past generations felt when shoveling coal or fetching a pail of water from the property well.
But I digress. Open-ended word of mouth is a powerful tool, but the word of link is king.
On the other hand, although links allow instant sharing, they remove a certain sense of authorship from music writing. Why live in a reviewer’s rhetorical universe when you can listen and judge for yourself with one click? So perhaps I can built up Gamma Burst here, make its robust cyclone of sound seems interesting enough to haunt you, to awaken a long curiosity. Unfortunately, I’m not a good enough writer to do Gamma Burst justice. It’s just too cool for words.