JASON FORREST with NINJA HIGH SCHOOL and KNIFEHANDCHOP at Sneaky Dee's (431 College), tonight, Thursday (March 30). $6-$8. www.rotate.com. Rating: NNNNN
Google Donna Summer and the first result is a tribute site dedicated to the original disco queen. But the second, third and fourth all link to Jason Forrest.
Forrest broke into the breakcore genre (noisy production based on liquefying and melding samples from any and all genres -- hyper-mashups, if you will) in 02, and calling himself Donna Summer was funny, shrewd self-marketing and a reflection of his bold yet cheeky style of borrowing.
But fans will be sad to hear that the long-time host/DJ of NYC open-format radio show Advanced D&D With Donna Summer has quit co-opting the diva's name. And while the laptop warrior's tour posters still bear the aka, as an artist he swears he's done with Summer.
"It was just time," explains Forrest from somewhere in Michigan. "Keeping on with that name was just asking for trouble. Actually, she never did contact me. If she did, I'd just say how much I love her!"
Awww, that's really sweet, but come on. This guy's no stranger to "asking for trouble." I refer to his entire catalogue, with its fairly noticeable chunks of the Who, Yes, the newly wedded Sir Elton, Talking Heads, CCR, Blood Sweat & Tears and even a downloaded MIDI version of a Supertramp track (for all you production nerds).
And for every familiar sample, you can count on 26 others digitally rejigged beyond recognition. It's reminiscent of the spirit of Kid606, or even Matmos.
But on his latest LP, last year's Shamelessly Exciting, he managed to summon some real soul using the coldest of tools. That's the result of adding collaborators and real instruments, not to mention Forrest's intense focus for a year and a half.
He's just started his next album, which will feature even more collaborators and will take much longer to finish, he assures me a bit stressfully.
His live show, which he describes as "Iggy Pop with a laptop," is notoriously, delightfully apeshit. His latest is pretty dynamic -- spread thick with precisely cut layers, delicate textures and neon melodies. This goes way beyond the novelty of the Tom Cruise-from-Magnolia-lifting Respect The Cock from way back when.
And he never stopped chopping and screwing with those big names.
But while copyright lawyers are quick to sniff out samples from rap records, Forrest has swum through litigious waters unscathed.
"Actually, I'm lucky to say I've had no threatened lawsuit."
The closest call was the case of the track Sperry And Foil, which found Forrest taking the blender to some unsung 70s krautrockers.
"Yeah, the band NEU! wasn't so happy about a song on my Lady Fantasy EP," says the Berlin resident.
Fortunately, the pillar of CockRockDisco (that white-label-releasin' breakcore collective including Duran Duran Duran and Stunt Rock) knows know to handle these things.
"I wrote them a personal letter. They seemed not to have any problems after that."