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DJ Wally - The Creepy Crawlies

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Artist: DJ Wally

Album: The Creepy Crawlies

Label: Quatermass

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

Somewhere between the modern noir that DJ Shadow perfected in the suburbs of San Francisco and the Gallic stonerism of DJ Cam lies New York's DJ Wally, except he's significantly weirder than both and he knows it. He'd like you to know it, too. Compared to other DJs who ooze understated coolness, Wally is an oddball, having worked with David Byrne's misfit Luaka Bop imprint and also collaborated with Luscious Jackson on the Titan A.E. soundtrack (?!). Recognizing this, the idea of his recent signing with a small Belgian label for some reason doesn't seem too strange, nor do the two costumed Children from the Corn on the cover of The Creepy Crawlies, his latest album.

Picking and choosing among his obviously deep collection of vinyl, Wally serves up a huge blend of music slathered on top of straight-ahead hip-hop drum beats. Sometimes the breaks are perky, sometimes they're foreboding, but then sometimes they're just ill. The boundaries for sound sources run as far and wide as reggae, Bill Haley and the Comets and porno orgasms, all fair game for DJ Wally's mixer. Running throughout The Creepy Crawlies are liberally used samples of tight-assed Wonderbreads saying corny things for comedic effect. It's an entertaining smorgasbord, perfectly designed for those who choose to smoke the reefer (one sample on the last cut, entitled "Out There in Dub Minor," features some guy yelling "I'm stooooned!" in case you didn't get it over the previous 11 tracks).

"The Crawlies," the third track, is probably the most exemplary of the album. Warbling strings melt on top of a very thick heard-it-before drum beat and then the whole mix is slashed with a heavy guitar riff until the kitschy Hollywood finale suddenly appears and simmers away. But wait! Those are only the main parts and there are easily half a dozen other minor things going on in the background. You could either take a Ritalin and listen to it again in case you missed something or kick back in preparation for "Walk With Limp," a mellow, psychedelic chunk of Saturday afternoon. Acoustic guitars, dub synths and loopy tracers abound on this one like so many curls of smoke. "Hybrid Sermon" is a good demonstration of DJ Wally's skill at sound manipulation. The opening beat grinds down into nothing and is then followed by more sluggishness. It's ugly and discordant but the humorous payoff comes halfway through the track when, during a momentarily pretty switch, a voice informs the listener "In fact, it's so beautiful, it has many magical powers," presumably referring to the track itself.

DJ Wally's ability to paste together disparate sounds into something clever and new deserves respect but the best aspects of The Creepy Crawlies tend also to be its problems. DJ Wally has a healthy sense of humor and he is too eager to show it off. The many, many ironic soundbites from TV shows and movies become repetitive at times. He also has a good ear for what sounds dope but too soon his attention wanders elsewhere, often leading to inexplicable alterations in his tracks just when a nice groove is being built. Maybe it's all part of having a little short-term memory.

By Noah Zimmerman

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