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DJ Q-Bert

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DJ Q-BERT

Q-Bert is the most celebrated member of the celebrated Bay Area DJ crew Invisibl Skratch Piklz, and his streamlined but lightning-quick performance in the recent DJ documentary Battle Sounds shows why. He might not have thought to do what he does without pioneers like Grandmaster Flash or D.St, but he makes their work seem quaint by comparison. Q-Bert's early mix tapes show conceptual cojones--Demolition Pumpkin Squeeze Musik, for instance, opens with a beat-skipping breakdown of Rush's awful "Tom Sawyer"--but don't always hang together in a way you'd want to hear more than once or twice. And on "Camel Bobsled Race," an extended single included as a bonus disc with DJ Shadow's Preemptive Strike (Mo' Wax/ffrr) last year, he didn't so much remix Shadow's 1996 Endtroducing... as discombobulate it with his piercing, squealing, stuttering, pitch-bending, and swooshing handiwork. But with his recent debut album, Wave Twisters (Galactic Butt Hair), Q-Bert's figured out how to convert his wiggy tricks into music. Amid lots of samples of sci-fi movie dialogue and old children's records, he lays down a thick barrage of beats and speaker-blowing bass lines; his most purposeful scratching ever ties it all together. It'll never rate as a desert-island disc, but I've spun it a dozen times now and I'm still not tired of it. Thursday, January 7, 10 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-527-2583 or 312-923-2000. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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