Some years ago, when trip hop was still the ‘dernier cri’, DJ Krush visited Vienna. Expectations ran high, but Senor K was about to be blown into nothingness by a support act. A certain DJ DSL doin’ something rarely encountered, making music with his hands, splitting hip hop atoms with ease. None of the locals were surprised, they had seen this guy do other outer worldly things before. But most spectacular, all his achievements are made in the absence of odd turntable trickery and standard vinyl exoticisms. Its about timing and discreet interventions! This force is a quiet one.
The most raw and basic hip hop ingredients are used to cook up not your average b-boy jam, but a universally accessible groove. Accessible, not because this is some odd pop conspiracy vs. rap. It is a perfect dislocation of the well known, a musical virus that affects and mutates the microstructure, leaving body and meaning of hip hop intact, transcending the format within the format. It sounds all new and smells like victory.
What a break from the European standard of doctorin` the hip hop, either shock freezing it into artificial purism or trying to make it more ‘interesting’ by bleaching, thinning and the addition of funny noises. Even our G-Stoners are not entirely innocent here. DJ DSL`s take on hip hop might as well be one of the few profound and lasting Europe ever had. On account of this he should have been a global player ever since, but he is an essentialist by choice and heart. While the herd changed taste and direction every Friday night, DJ DSL over the years remained a reliable bullshit-detector.
Nothing is more misleading than the full version of his ‘nom du guerre’, DSL, originally Stefan Biedermann, had picked some 15 years ago in typical old school tongue-in-cheek fashion: D. for DJ (that makes two in the end), S. for super and L. for ‘leiwand’, a Viennese slang term for something beyond excellence.
In fact, he is a man of straightforward understatement, full of dry wit and humour, who easily will give you a damn good expertise on why it´s better to hang out in your favourite coffee house, rather than pursuing the pop star lifestyle. Accordingly his vita can’t be filed under ‘career’.
After starting in the mid-eighties with lonesome turntable home training, winning local DMC DJ competitions and a short stint with his brothers trash disco chart rocket ‘Edelweiss’, he joined ‘The Moreaus’ a freaky outfit of hopeless idealists alongside Peter Kruder, Dub Club´s Sugar B and Uptight´s Rodney Hunter. After recording an album Austria definitely wasn’t ready for, the bubble went bang and DJ DSL back to his old coffee house routines. He had to be pushed and pulled back on the scene. An era of legendary DJ sessions supported by the MC’ing of Sugar B under the moniker ‘Swound sound system’ followed.
A truly impressive tribute to the low-key-great-fun-hardly-making-any-money side of things. When DJ DSL was voted ‘best DJ’ by influential German mag ‘Spex’ in 1995, he again quit the business. He never liked that much attention.
Hadn’t the beat addict come back, this fine album wouldn’t be around. DJ DSL even managed to transfer his unique mix-style into production. As an avid member of the ‘mark the 45 king’ school of break-buddhism, he gives seriality and repetition in hip hop a new meaning. Tunes, that have house-track length, loops that rotate like gyros, breaks that break themselves. Rich musicality never overruling the idea of hip hop, a deep fertilisation of the groove, durable for life.