Sunday, 10 October 2010

Introducing Endtroducing

In a hiatus in my ability think about philosophy or philosophy of psychiatry, I can at least add another comment on cover versions (adding to comments here, here, here, here and here for example). Last night I went to hear Introducing playing DJ Shadow’s album Endtroducing at the Bewery Arts. Endtroducing is an album played almost entirely from samples (possibly the first such album). Introducing, by contrast, play it live as a nine piece band, held together by impressive drumming.

There is something simply admirably gonzo about the project, the mere fact of it. But I realised in advance that if they produced, through some miracle, an exact copy there would be no aesthetic value in it. If on the other hand, what they produced was too different (like the reggae version of Dark Side of the Moon), I would feel cheated, in the presence of mere pastiche.

(This seems vaguely akin to Harry Collins' comments (in Changing Order) on the replication of scientific results. One needs some differences: the same scientists in the same lab count for less replication than a distinct lab. But they must replicate the same experiment: mere coincident insight from tea leaves would not count.)

In fact Introducing played it straight and as close as they could, I suspect, to the original. Nevertheless, the inevitable differences in emphases, mix and singing style had some overall interesting effects. I could, for example, hear the album as an instance of trip hop, a label applied to it at the time but which made no sense to me. Played live, it clearly was. But I also suspect that I will hear the original, when I next play it, differently: in a relation to last night's performance..

The effect was less a cover version of an original than a relation to an abstract template like a particular production of Hamlet standing in the context of all the others one has seen