WHEN CHRISTIAN MARCLAY began spinning other people’s records into his own music around 1980, his only like-minded contemporaries were DJs who used the turntable as both rhythm track and soundbyter, dropping in a little James Brown shout, say, to signify “funky”; their innovations made hiphop the cause célèbre of cultural-studies postmodernists. Marclay, though, hewed to a lo-fi, highbrow avant-gardism, exploring the sonic properties of records to effect his own version of musique concrète; he backed up not MCs but improvisors on the noisy fringe. He seemed to be a high-late-modernist holdout against hiphop’s ascendant post-.
By the time More Encores, a ten-inch record now out on CD by ReR, came out, in 1988, the live, vinyl-spinning DJ himself was obsolescent. Digital sampling had created a superglut of raw materials, and their recombination was becoming end as well as means. In light of
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