It’s been a long eight years since DJ Food last dropped his/their mesmerizing sample-based symphonies on an awestruck public. Since 2001’s Quadruplex EP, released shortly after the then-duo’s amazing Kaleidoscope album, DJ Food hasn’t made any new music available, save for a DJ mix compilation. Yet those craving the fluctuating entity’s clever blend of rock, hip-hop, jazz, funk, spoken word and anything else they saw fit, there’s been little to speak of in terms of substantive material. Of course, for an artistic project such as DJ Food, setting a schedule and charting a precision course just isn’t practical. Initially started as a side project of Coldcut, before PC and Strictly Kev joined the ranks, DJ Food has had an ever-changing lineup since day one. Strictly Kev is keeping the name alive, however, unleashing One Man’s Weird Is Another Man’s World, the first of a handful of EPs that will eventually lead up to DJ Food’s next proper full-length.
The dense and swirling, boiling and bubbling, mischievous sonic world of DJ Food is very much alive on One Man’s Weird Is Another Man’s World, but it’s hard not to be a little thrown off by the first track, “The Illectric Hoax.” Fuzzy, raw and adorned with Natural-Self’s vocals, it’s essentially a straightforward rock track, which is the last thing anyone could have expected from DJ Food. That said, it’s not half bad, but the EP only gets more interesting from there. “Excerpts from Stolen Moments” crackles with the sound of rain and thunder, as eerie horror movie ambience creeps in and characteristically quirky and unsettling spoken word bits take over. It’s on track three, “All Covered In Darkness (Parts 1 and 2)”, where One Man’s Weird truly begins to hit its stride. The sprawling seven-minute track sustains the prior composition’s dark ambience, but shuffles into something bigger, broader and more aurally exhilarating, with funky basslines and some vocal samples from Ken Nordine, who has made appearances on DJ Food albums past.
One Man’s Weird Is Another Man’s World spans around 40 minutes, which is pretty lengthy for an EP, but one track, “A Trick of the Ear,” makes up 13 minutes of it. That gigantic beast of a song wakes slowly, with cinematic, jazzy beat clatters and ringing vibraphone unfolding into a suspenseful noir opus, ultimately building up bigger and bigger beats while maintaining its restrained cool. It’s deceptively simple, but it’s breathtaking. Though three minutes long, “Colours Beyond Colours” is more like a segue than a song, with science film narration lain over atmospheric piano and electronic waves. Closing the EP is “Tricky Little Ears (The Cheech Wizard Pays Respect to All Living Creatures Who Inhabit Dark Places),” which is essentially a shorter reprise of “A Trick of the Ear,” subtly remixed but keeping intact the essence of the song.
Though One Man’s Weird is but a taste of DJ Food circa 2009, it’s an intriguing and unsurprisingly masterful display of Kev’s beats and pieces. Given that more EPs of its kind (and a full-length) are looming on the horizon, the fact that this first outing is such a rousing success shows great promise for what’s in store.
DJ Shadow – The Private Press
UNKLE – Psyence Fiction
Amon Tobin – Foley Room
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.