Mike Relm, Detroit Bar, August 10, 2007

Mike Relm looks like Central Casting's idea of an IT geek. But in reality he's a San Francisco-based laptop disc/video jockey who rocks parties with a rather shocking ferocity. Relm’s like a West Coast Girl Talk, but with shit-hot scratching and graphic skills.

The Relm m.o. is to take familiar songs—mostly pop, rock, hip-hop and club bangers—and add furiously harsh scratching and deft beat-juggling to them, and then synch up the sounds to video images on a screen to his left. Sometimes he’ll have the artists whose tracks he’s playing appear on the screen and sometimes there’ll be humorous juxtapositions between the audio and visual (Bush cabinet members past and present flicker by to Beck’s “Loser”). Sometimes sheer random goofiness seems to guide Relm’s aesthetic choices (Napoleon Dynamite dancing to AC/DC’s “Back in Black”; the Outfield’s “[I Don’t Want to] Lose Your Love” scoring porn footage; Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” bumpin’ to Bruce Lee fights, etc.).

The highlights came fast and blurious. Here are a few I can recall: the opening bars of “Billie Jean” getting beat-juggled and then slowed w-a-a-a-y down; a scene from School of Rock in which Jack Black asks the students if they’ve ever gotten “the Led out,” then leading into Zeppelin's “Immigrant Song,” which sounded like the most exciting thing ever at that moment; a bombastic classical intro segueing into Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer to God”; muy rapido scratching to Vince Guaraldi’s “Peanuts Theme”; Devo’s “Whip It” blending into Rage Against the Machine's “Bulls on Parade,” then somehow smoothly transitioning into Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang.”

The only quibble I have regards the frequent pauses between routines, which hinder the set’s momentum, but maybe that’s a technological necessity. Nevertheless, Relm’s performance was hugely entertaining. The only other artists I’ve seen who are doing something similar are Coldcut, so he’s in damned elevated company.

For loads of Relm-oriented downloads, go here.

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