never has the dj been more im-portant in pop music.What was once an unglamorous job at the back of the stage or in a dark booth spinning records has turned into the main event. Every clown has to have a DJ scratching on his or her album to seem hip, even if it doesn't exactly fit in with the music.
Mixman's Digital Music Mixer, or DM2, cashes in on that hype. The scanner-sized set-up that looks like the top of an electric stove is actually two mini turntables, a mixer and digital effects box in one.
A USB cord plugs the machine into your PC, and with the software provided, you can start cutting up tracks like a pro. Well, almost.
The DM2 comes with a selection of beats for you to cut up and remix. You can also piece together your own track using the software's 16-track digital mixing board, and there are more pieces of music available for download at www.mixman.com.
The box itself has all the tools of a DJ set-up, including two "turntables," a cross-fader and a bunch of nifty effects to wring your songs inside out.
It's a fun tool and an interesting introduction to music mixing for someone who's never touched a turntable before. Playing around for a couple hours, you can get a feel for how different parts of a beat work together and how to add mountains of reverb like a junior King Tubby.
After the initial novelty wears off, though, what you're left with is a finite machine that offers up largely anonymous house, funk and techno beats and doesn't really allow for much experimentation. While the hands-on experience is fun, there isn't a lot on the DM2 that you can't do on online Flash mixing desks like www.infinitewheel.com/dubselector.html.
Much of the real excitement in getting behind a set of turntables is cutting up your favourite tracks. Who knew that Yoko Ono and Gil Scott-Heron had so much in common before you slammed their songs together on the mixing board?
Admittedly, DM2 is just an introduction to mixing, but that element of surprise and chance is crucial to life as a turntablist. It's a fun way to blow a few hours, but if you really want to be the next Kid Koala, you'd be better off saving up for a pair of Technics 1200s and studying Invisibl Skratch Piklz videos.
DIGITAL MUSIC MIXER for Windows 98 and Mac, $150. Rating: NNN