Jesse Jarnow

“fl” – trap door

“fl° – Trap Door (download here)
from International Psychedelic Mystery Mix
released by Dis-Joint (2006)
available via Turntable Lab

(file expires September 19th)

Like many of the mixes my friend Joey has turned me onto, Trap Door’s International Psychedelic Mystery Mix has no track list — just beautifully lettered album art and, in iTunes, cryptic ASCII symbols. Much of the material feels like it could be drawn from the distant corners of Alan and Richard Bishop’s Sublime Frequencies project and carries much the same message: that people plug in, freak out, and fall down across whole small world after all.

The lack of performance information triggers all kinds of alarms in my brain’s obsessive quadrants: how can I understand something if I don’t even know what to call it? Regardless of how I feel about a crossing it, I think there’s an unquestionable line between liberating the content of a piece of music via mp3s (“I’m gonna copy this great, obscure song for all my friends”) and liberating the intellectual ownership of the work entirely (“I’m gonna deliberately not give credit to the person who wrote it, even though I know who he is”). These are not just samples, mind you, but entire songs.

Obviously, the tracklisting is absent for legal reasons. Still, it’s a big line to cross — obscuring intellectual property, I mean, not bootlegging, which is quite well-trodden — and crossing it can be oodles of fun. It is incredibly freeing as a listener. “fl°” is the first real song on the disc, and I’ve no idea where it’s from. It grooves like Jamaican dub, but the melody sounds positively West African (but, then, that guitar sounds a bit Middle Eastern).

Here, crossing that line is potentially terrifying. The exploration of music is a dialogue, the discovery of albums, bands, and songwriters naturally leading one to the discovery of related albums, bands, and songwriters. In that way, the Trap Door mix is seemingly a dead end in a hedge maze. Maybe that’s the trick: that they found an end at all. Of course, Google can help with the vocal cuts, but the instrumentals remain elusive. It’s either an end, or the music becomes the property of the curator, the only one with the key. None of this is to complain — I’ve been thoroughly digging the bejeezus out of this mix — just to wonder aloud about what it all means, maaaan.