The time has finally come. For ages, I have been meaning to take on the Isosine music project from a critical angle, and now is the time.
(Isosine, the dark and twisted god of mashups) So I’d like to start this off by saying that, in my opinion, Isosine is a music project. While Isosine is an artist, there is also an aspect to them that is inherently based in an overarching goal, a project. What is that project? To be blunt its The mashup manifesto series. The creation of a series of mashup albums which clearly, and aggressively, point to the commentative and discursive power of mashups.
Why? To answer that we need to delve into what exactly mashups are, and more importantly, why they are relevant to you or I. At its core a mashup is a mix between 2 songs. A vs. B. A classic/original mashup is simply the vocals of one song on the instrumentals of another, A vs B. A great example of this is Girltalk or Super Mash Bros. While they often use more than 2 songs, they never really blend them far beyond that forumla, indeed a lot of there longer songs feel like a lot of smaller concept A vs. B mashups that could be whole mixes on their own right.
Then there is AB, which still two songs but it is more complex than one song vs the other, instead of simply having A vocals over B instrumental. AB’s blend the songs effortless to create something entirely new. One of the best examples of this is Are You Sombody that I Used to Know . Which is flawless.
Next comes AB + C which is an AB style with a third (or more!) song twist thrown in. These are super fucking hard, and good ones are rare. One of the best is Mr. 212 by Baers . Which is also flawless
However, despite this diversity. The popular perception of mashups is, primarily, Glee (Primarily A vs B sometimes AB). (I could say pitch perfect, but I would actually contend that pitch perfect fits into certain aspect of mashups as commentary, that glee doesn’t). Silly stuff done by whimsical A Capella groups. Something that doesn’t have artistic or cultural merit. Why does this matter? (Beyond me being a hipster ass?) Well a lot actually.
Because like many forms of underground music, mashups have always been inherently subversive. And they have become more articulate and coherent with that critique over time.
Mashups are commentary. “We are All Mad Here” They scream into the night. They are a discussion on the insanity of the modern music industry, which takes different forms of music and crushes them into forumuleic mass produced pop, which can all be mashed with each other.
While Isosine says that their name doesn’t mean anything, its interesting because both their name (and their new mobious triangle symbol) suggest an equality of angles. Or more importantly, an equality of music. Or more accurately, an equality that has arisen out the music industry’s project of collapsing genre into safe and consumable pop.
Referring to my previous post. As Music subcultures become slowly popular,they become something that the music industry attempts to gain power over. So genres like soul, blues, rock, punk, folk, reggae, hip hop, and many more have become consumed by mainstream pop and have lost their bite. Because of that the first track of Mashup Manfiesto, Psychosocial Baby, is possible.
If you haven’t listen to it yet (and if you haven’t where in the fuck have you been?) do so now. Just click play. Its the first track. Note how this track psychs you out. You think its baby, there is no indication that will be what it is, and if I played it for your blind (like in a car trip or on a mixtape or the radio) you’d groan and say fuck justin beiber. And then Psychosocial starts playing. And you shit yourself.
and that’s the manfiesto. Right there. This song is good/funny because it is unexpected. These two songs have no right to be mixed to each other. They aren’t even from genres that are similar. But they synch. How is that possible? Its possible because hip hop and punk/post punk have been consumed by the music industry. They have become part of a system which produces sounds for you to consume in order to make a profit. Billboard, producers, and the music industry decide what you like before you hear it.
Think back to this past year, what music did you find on your own? Which did you listen to because you like the sound? Because you heard something new that you had to pin down and understand? Which did you seek out because you wanted to listen to music made by womyn, people of color, and queer artists? Because you wanted to support and hear their voices? What music did you seek out because it spoke to a part of your brain beyond relationships and drinking?
Which songs did you listen to last year because it played on z100 20 times a day? And were literally forced into your life whenever you turned on the radio?
Most probably live in the latter.
This should not be taken a value judgement about your taste in music. This isn’t about you, me, or what we think is ‘good’ music. Its about how sounds are sold to us for us to consume with out thinking about the music we listen to. A truly great mashup is one that takes a song which is ‘good’ or ‘edgy’ and combines with it a song that is ‘bad’. It is great because in doing so it points to your assumptions about why you listen to what you listen to. It reveals dimensions of both songs that you weren’t aware of before, it creates a conversation which has the ability to both comment on the songs being used as well as the music industry as whole.
It points to the fact that genre is a tool to sell different demographics similar sounds. Go listen to I knew you were trouble by t-swift. Notice how it has wobble base in it? That’s an instrument pioneered by British/British-Jamaican/Caribbean artists in the reggaetone, dub, dubstep, hard and liquid style genres. Not country artists.
Taylor swift is a ‘country’ artist, not that I am against her experimenting, she should, but something is going on here. Dubstep has nothing to do with the style t-swift is from. Literally nothing. Yet its there! Why? Because genre doesn’t fucking exist, not in pop anyway. And because of this mashups can exist.
That’s what Isosine’s project (at least in my opinion/in part) is, the equality of music is because of the homogenization of music. All music is the same because genre is collapsing, and its madness, its Isosine.
(and that’s ok)
I’ll go into each album with more detail, and probably each song with more detail, but not now. I’m tired.