What Does It All Mean? 1983 - 2006 Retrospective

[Illegal Art,]

Funny thing is, first time I heard Steinski's music was during sometime in the late 80's, when half-way through a hardcore show, DJ span "The Motorcade Sped On" between a Henry Rollins and Bad Brains tracks. What the fuck was this all about? Is the guy making light of Kennedy's assassination? What is this cut'n'paste technique he's using and most of all, who the hell is Steinski anyhow? The track of course would go on to raise many eyebrows over the years - with a large chunk of those who heard it snuffing the artist as some sort of a radical outcast who's out to make fun of American sacrilege. Steinski [or Steve Stein] who was a commercial TV producer made friends with Double Dee [Douglas Di Franco - who happened to be an engineer and DJ] to make some of his best mixes during the early 80's. "The Payoff Mix" takes a rough stab at the current music scene that was happening around NYC at the time, while "Lesson 2" and "Lesson 3" have a go at James Brown's vocal oomphs and early hip-hop madness. Funny thing about all of these is, samples used in these mixes were too numerous, too blatant to be ever cleared by any record label. All of this stuff came out as white label pressings [with exception of "Motorcade Sped On" which was given away with NME]. By the time "Jazz" and "Voice Mail" hit, the duo was in top form, going sample heavy and beat crazy. Then came "Motorcade Sped On". Steinski recalls, "Making a hiphop record out of the newscasts of the Kennedy assassination was insane. Everybody told me - the engineer at the studio I hired, pretty much anyone I discussed the project with, and especially the guy at CBS I spoke to about clearing the newscasts. He hung up on me." Later on, we would see "Everything's Disappeared" - an especially strong commentary on the evils of TV produced together with Mr. Dolan and the Canadian branch of The Church of the Subgenius [I think this version was included once on a Death of Vinyl collection]. The first disc ends with a shattering observation on 9/11 called "Number Three on Flight Eleven". Featuring a frightened flight attendant from the plane that crashed into an abandoned field, and an ominous voice describing the wonders of "longing for New York", the piece brings out the horrors of that fateful day into the spotlight. On disc two, Steinski goes all nuts, with an album length "Nothing to Fear" mix. Many break-beats, hundreds of hip-shaking movements and crazy off-the-wall juxtapositions make for a highly engrossing listening session that works best on the dance floor. "What Does It All Mean?" is a wide-opened question mark, rather than a foreboding statement of closure. Here's hoping Steinski has a ton of musical insight to share with the world in years to come.

- Tom Sekowski

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