Can You See the Music
's cover depicts a pastoral scene populated with conical-hatted peasants happily harvesting away. But they look a little weird. Their clothes are too bright and modern for underprivileged Vietnamese agricultural workers, and instead of crops they're bearing musical tools. Flip open the CD case and you get a listing of the "peasants"; Craig Borrell and Ross Harris, the nucleus of DJ Me DJ You, have the assistance of quite a few collaborators. Borrell and Harris spin a variety of obscure records, cutting and pasting sections of guitar, bass, drums and vocals provided by others. It creates sort of the same effect as the cover -- a loose, but not necessarily rough collage of elements that you're not used to experiencing together. Most of the songs are bouncy and sunny-sounding, and in that, they're not unlike the music of past Borrell/Harris collaborator Beck. "People Together" employs a bright acoustic guitar and the recurring lyrics "Now when people get together they do the craziest things / From touch football to engagement rings", which is rhymed with "Sittin' in a sports bar eating buffalo wings." Silly, yes, but this is where production skills separate goofing off from making an almost absurd yet quality piece of music. Borrell and Harris have a talent for bringing various elements in and out, mostly culled from vinyl judging by the organicness of the timbres. There are also backing vocals, male and female, that add a lot of texture to the music. "Fresh Technology" is more digital-sounding, with a filtered synth line and a robotic effect on some of the vocals. Once again, the lyrics are more about rhythm than meaning; a female vocal intones "I like it when you talk to me like that / Now put it / Put it / Put it where it's at," while the main hook is "Oh, say can you see / The fresh technology?" "Microchips and Salsa" is funky and fast-paced, one of the CD's more overtly "cut-and-paste" tracks (and that's saying a lot). Female "ooh"s and "aah"s flow over a chugging beat and an undulating bassline. The guitar is by turns a light-handed clean and a distorted sound, and there are more extra touches than you can shake a stick at.
Can You See the Music is quite a weird piece of work, and like a lot of music with a sense of humor it would be easy to dismiss as a mere fuck-around. For that reason, it's a little hard to fully get into. However, the technical skill and creativity at work here are enough reason to give DJ Me DJ You more than a passing listen, even if the songs don't make your head bob up and down and your feet tap.