The art of the mix creates a new language of creativity.
DJ/conceptual artist/author Paul Miller's pseudonym is at once an arcane reference to William S. Burroughs's Nova Express and a childlike recognition of the sometimes eerie, disembodied sounds he gathers-an immediate indicator of the gleeful enthusiasm with which both his "mixes" and his first book juxtapose cultures high and low, new and old, avant-garde and "street." Son of Howard University's dean of law (who died when Miller was three) and a mother who ran an international fabric shop off Dupont Circle, Miller spent much of his childhood in Washington, D.C.'s nurturing bohemia before studying philosophy and literature at Bowdoin. That his thesis was on Richard Wagner-whose theory of gestamtkunstwerk (the total art work) presages much of today's "new media" revolution-is no surprise. The emerging aesthetic he describes is one in which the proliferating technologies of sampling and studio manipulation have eroded the distinction between music's producers and consumers. From "dub" in Jamaica to the turntablism of the South Bronx, how music was manipulated by listeners after the fact has become as important as how it was "originally" made. The range of reference Miller brings to his description of these phenomena reaches back to Vico and Emerson and forward to Eminem, giving "DJ culture" the broad contextualization its innovations have long warranted. Though much of what Miller describes is hardly new either to listeners or practitioners, his insights as a practicing and successful DJ are fresh and unpretentious. The enclosed CD, an expert full-length mix that moves from Artaud to Morton Feldman, then Patti Smith without blinking, paradoxically points out that Miller is still a better DJ than writer; its effortless juxtapositions cohere in a way his text (including 45 minimalist illustrations) rarely manages. But even such writer/musicians as John Fahey and Glenn Gould rarely accomplished that, and Miller has certainly earned a place in their company. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.