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What's new in iJamming!...
Tue, Oct 23, 2001
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
HEDONISM:
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
MUSING ON A SEPTEMBER MOURNING
PART1:
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 4: LINKS
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured albums
(Hub, Slumber Party, DJ Harry, Spearhead, The Who tribute
)
Albums that sound different since September 11
(Charlatans UK, Arabian Travels, Cafe del Mar, Sugarcult)
Featured wine region 3:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE WHITES
Featured wine region 4:
SOUTHERN RHÔNE ROSÉS
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother (DB, Spooky, Jody, RSW, Bad Boy Bill)
FEATURED Wines (Langlois Cremant de Loire, Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Campbell's Muscat, Brumont Gros Manseng, Dr Frank Gewürtztraminer, Daubree CoteRotie, Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, Mas Saint Laurent Picpoul, Quivira Dry Creek)
The iJAMMING! interview: DAVID SYLVIAN
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
From Homework to the Disco:
DAFT PUNK
grows up and dumbs down
The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
The Return of Shoegazing:
DOVES take New York by swarm
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
Musing with SALLY TAYLOR:
"I'm not interested in what the major labels have to offer."
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
LLOYD COLE
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
VIOGNIER:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
SUPERDRAG
They love rock'n'roll but they don't want to deal with the hassle
From the JAMMING! archives: RAYMONDE in 1985
The full iJamming! Contents
musing news

I've seen the future and it hurts
I have seen the future of DJing and it works. . .to paraphrase Prince, into whose catalogue DJ John Acquaviva delved extensively while spinning a Paper magazine party at the Manhattan (Bridge) club Fun that I attended Thursday April 19. Acquaviva, Richie Hawtin's longtime partner in the Plus 8 label and an increasingly popular DJ in his own right, also played all manner of disco classics, a host of funk, and enough contemporary techno to keep the different sub-sets of a potentially difficult Manhattan crowd - trendy, uptown, downtown, club kids - jumping for three hours solid. And all this with one crate of records. So what was the secret? Did he successfully anticipate the crowd's mood and pack all the right records before leaving Detroit? Or did he cheat, and bring boxes of compilation CDs like the most hokey of mobile jocks?

Neither. Acquaviva and Hawtin are test-driving a new application out of Holland that's as genius in practice as it is simple in theory. Imagine a system whereby you can load your laptop up with sound files (eg MP3s, .AIFF, .WAV), and then play them off your turntable as if they were vinyl. Now imagine that system exists.

Ok. Pause for breath. Read the above para again. Yes, it exists. The system, from what I could tell by getting an on-the-spot demonstration from John while he was playing, is called Finalscratch. It's a three-pronged application. At the 'back' end, you store your sound files in a database on your laptop. The computer connects via its USB port to a box which serves as the 'hub' of the program; from this box RCA jacks connect out to the 'Line' or 'Aux' channels of the mixer. At the 'front' end, i.e. the turntable, you use a special 'Finalscratch' piece of 12" vinyl, the groove of which, instead of sending out musical information, sends out time code back through the 'hub' to control the sound file on the computer.

That's the complicated part. (And go back over it; apart from figuring out the contents of the Finalscratch vinyl, it's surprisingly straightforward.) Using the application is almost unbearably simple. Just select an audio file - John scrolled down his database and chose 'Theme from Shaft' for demonstration - and it opens on the computer screen, allowing you to actually see the sound waves as they're being played. Ensure you've switched the mixer setting from 'Phono' to 'Line' or 'Aux' (just as if you were selecting a CD or some other external source), and place the needle at the start of the 'Finalscratch' dummy 12": on the computer screen, you will see that the 'handle' (the cursor within the software) position itself at the start of the sound file. As the 'Finalscratch' vinyl plays, so does the sound file, incredible though it seems.

But Finalscratch also does everything else a piece of vinyl will do. Fast forward the vinyl with your hand and on the screen, the handle fast forwards through the sound file. Increase or decrease the tempo with the pitch control and the sound file speeds up or slows down accordingly. Back-scratch and the file plays backwards. Hold the vinyl steady, and the sound file holds steady. Then try this: lift the needle and drop it halfway onto the vinyl, as you might do when you're trying to find a breakdown. The cursor immediately moves to a position halfway through the sound file!

The advantages of this program are so manifest that it almost takes your breath away. The most valuable is space. Acquaviva claims he can come to a gig armed with twenty crates worth of records on one (extensive) hard drive. This allows him to carry a continual supply of classics while keeping one or two crates of 'real' vinyl full of current cuts that may or may not be worth rendering into computerized sound files. Certain DJs who perform a pre-programmed set of strictly current tracks may not experience too many benefits but someone like John, who enjoys the party aspect of delving into the classics, knows he can bring his archives of soul, funk, disco, playing, some 3000 miles or more without worrying about physical weight. These oldies can all be stored alphabetically, making them a breeze to find compared to searching through four crates of records for that obscure B-side that you know has to be somewhere in the box. And as he also pointed out, on those frustrating occasions when an airline loses his records crate (which happens more than makes sense in the DJ business), he can still perform without having to run out to a record store or borrowing someone else's records he doesn't know.

The greatest thing about this space-saver is that, unlike CD decks, there's no compromise of the DJ's talents. He (or she) is still playing off a piece of vinyl, still mixing between turntables, still doing most of the tricks that make DJs what they are; the ability to actually "see" the sound files even increases the Djs ability to anticipate breakdowns and build-ups and better his or her mix. Finally, there's the fact that you no longer need to press up acetates or run off DAT tapes of your latest home recording or remix to bring to a club. Assuming you record to hard drive (as most people do these days via Cubase, Pro Tools etc), you can play your home recording at a club within, potentially, minutes of finishing it - but as a piece of club vinyl, with all the benefits of being able to mix it in and out of other tracks.

The disadvantages as I see them are minimal. Certainly, the application can take away from a DJ's determination to bring that one box of records and make it work at all costs. (It becomes too easy to fall back on the classics in the hard drive.) And given the still substandard quality of MP3s as compared to the enormous size of their originating AIFF/WAV files, DJs could easily find themselves drawing from an aural equivalent of cassette tapes, or being limited to a laptop with only a few dozen cuts. But given the exponential increase in hard disk size these days and the steady quality improvement in digital audio files, these are but short-term drawbacks.

So where can YOU get Finalscratch? Oh, you didn't expect it to be widely available did you? Acquaviva and Hawtin, who also uses the program, have a direct line to the Dutch inventors. Richie is already using a newer version of the software; John is waiting for the bugs to be fixed first. From what I understand, there will be a commercial launch of the application somewhere later this year, with the Plus 8 partners serving as some kind of north American promotional arm. Lucky bastards. Believe me, if the commercial price proves right, DJing will never be the same again. I've seen the future and it hurts.

As it turns out, John is also a committed wine buff. ("I practice every day," he told me - and he wasn't talking about scratching.) Hopefully, next time he's in New York, we'll get to sit down and talk more about Final Scratch - and what wines to mix it with!

April 20 2001

October 2001: John and I finally sat down, had dinner, drank wine, and discussed Finalscratch in greater detail. Click here for the full interview.

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