The evolution of weirdly layered, off kilter music in three unusual steps:
Van Dyke Parks – “Out On The Rolling Sea When Jesus Speak To Me,” the completely manual, human powered version.The arranger is the key.
John Zorn – “The Big Gundown,” “Spillane” and” Godard,” the steam powered version. Performed live to tape, using instructions from file cards.
D.J. Shadow – “Preemptive Strike,” “The Private Press,” “Endtroducing,” the electric version. A man and his turntables and tape machines.
What do you call this music? It’s not all cut ‘n paste – especially Van Dyke Parks, which flows in a way the others don’t. Shadow and Zorn are a bit closer together, but really, there’s not much shared sensibility among the three. It’s not ‘dj’ music because there is not enough dance in it. It’s, ummm, ‘misheard music,’ the kind of thing you half catch from the next room, or that wakes you up when the car full of teens drives by a 3 a.m. and the dog barks at the same time the rain is starting. It’s not quite in focus, until it is.
(Tom Waits offers essentially the same definition in one of the quotes I cited a few entries back.)