We will. We will. Mash You.
It stands to reason that from a city where many of today’s and tomorrow’s new genres in popular music are invented or hybridized into being, some of the most accomplished mash-ups – and the mash-up by now has nearly become a kind of genre in its own right – would hail; and here again and again London does not disappoint: a recent chance discovery on Soundcloud of one such musician, Jonas C., who goes by a humorous moniker he spliced together for himself from the names of the two bands he first operated on, Daft Beatles, confirms the point, with musical combinations of which the idea sounds so improbable until one actually listens to them – whereupon the distances, whether of sort or style, or of time and place, that had separated those whom he puts together, suddenly seem to be more illusory than real.
The increasing eminence of the mash-up as a form that conduces to surprising musical discoveries, should itself be thought-provoking; with each revelation of an unexpected affinity, as though the musics in question had been made for each other, one wonders a little more at the constitution of the musical portions of our mind that are open to recognizing their mutual rightness even when we ourselves were unwilling or unable to: perhaps it could be the case that there are deep planes of memory where the songs and music generally one heard long ago live on virtually, precisely by virtue of being preserved there in something analogous to the fused form to which the best mash-ups introduce – or rather, re-introduce – us. Or else, if one is disinclined to admit that they could possibly be present there already in that compact manner, would it then be more plausible to compare the behavior of the pieces of music in those regions of one’s memory to the comportment of people at crowded parties scanning the room for others whom they’d care to talk to or to . . . ?
Not to mention the mutual interpenetrations, contiguities, and simultaneities of the constituents of our musicality (such as our feeling for tempo and rhythm) at the even deeper depths of the mind wherein those elements might – it’s one hypothesis about their situation – be concealed and protected, in something of the way that, Kant surmised (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, A 141/B 180-81), the “Schematismus unseres Verstandes” would almost necessarily have to be “eine verborgene Kunst in den Tiefen der menschlichen Seele.” Ah, if only the mind could be turned inside out for once, so that despite itself it would emit its strange inner music. . . . Well, there is probably ample reason to want to leave it well enough alone, and yet finely-tuned mash-ups may at least bring one closer to overhearing the sound within it just a little, albeit indirectly, if one has some notion of what one is to listen for.
The more surprisingly right the mash-up – the more utterly improbable it seemed beforehand – the greater the likelihood that it might succeed in conveying just such percipience to the listener; and conversely, the taste for this genre (if it is not simply a mere fashion) might indicate that precisely that is what more and more people now hope to receive.
But be all this as it may. The following mash-ups, even in their more experimental or tentative moments, are strikingly surprising and right; and for sonic delight late on a Friday evening, what more is required?
The Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby” vs. Daft Punk, “Around the World.”
Madonna, “Papa Don’t Preach” vs. Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance” vs. Hank Marvin (The Shadows), “Apache.”
Oasis, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” vs. Bob Marley, “No Woman No Cry” (live).
Lana Del Rey, “Born to Die” vs. Johnny Cash, “Hurt.”
And, last but not least – in fact, it was this most improbable one that I encountered first and which prompted me to listen further – there is an astonishing and beautiful blending of Blondie and Philip Glass.
Postscript. It’s come to my attention that Daft Beatles’ page on Soundcloud has been disappeared. This is a pity – for all those who have and who might have appreciated his music – and a shame, for Soundcloud itself. The action notwithstanding, a new home for his work ought soon to be found.