Under The Influence: Mixed by Rob Swift

Under The Influence: Mixed by Rob Swift
Six Degrees

Rob Swift, backbone of legendary New York turntablist group X-ecutioners, proves he's quite the laid-back scratch DJ with this CD mix. He doesn't overpower the music with typical DJ pyrotechnics, instead giving his sounds a chance to breathe, trekking from rare, peppy, '60s soul to old-school hip-hop and even some high-minded Afro-Cuban. In a sense, his choice to stand back a bit is sad because Swift is one of the few DJs who proves the almighty turntable has a serious future as an instrument. But by using his wheels of steel economically, Swift gets to tell the story of the sounds that influenced him. His take on soul is buoyantly alive with twists on rarities such as the Explosions' “Hip Drop.” By themselves, these ditties hardly need any assistance to punch a hole in your stereo or fire up a block party. All the space-age scratching should have made these civil rights-era soul tunes sound more dated than a Ken Burns documentary, but Swift's achievement here is in making the scratches fit like a lost B-side onto these records. The older hip-hop cuts, though, don't age as well—too many memories of Kangols and gold chains. But Swift makes the Afro-Cuban music, spirited by Six Degrees artist Bobi Cspedes, sound as elegant as a smooth jazz trio. So what's next? Turntablism as dinner-party music? Only if Swift is hosting.

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