Who would have ever guessed that Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" might be to this generation what The Beatles' Ed Sullivan Show appearance was to its predecessor? Both Rob Swift and DJ Q-Bert, two of the most accomplished turntablists working today, readily acknowledge the debt they owe to Hancock's DJ D.ST., as well as the fact that the ubiquitous 1983 hit changed their lives forever. Back before samplers were commonplace, the DJ was often the man responsible for the music over which early rap groups rhymed. By playing drum breaks over and over, and occasionally adding some percussive scratches, such pioneers as Grandwizard Theodore and Grandmaster Flash revolutionized the concept of using recorded music, and Swift and Q-Bert have taken turntables one step further: Just as most rappers seem to have dumped the DJ, a good number of DJs have been dumping the MC. With generally just a pair of turntables and some truly nimble fingers, Swift (of New York City's X-ecutioners) and Q-Bert (of San Francisco's Invisibl Skratch Piklz crew) have done for the DJ what Eddie Van Halen did for the electric guitar, inspiring DJs around the world to hone their craft, scratching and mixing faster and more creatively than ever before. While turntable work is best experienced live, several DJs, including San Francisco's Shadow, ISP's Mixmaster Mike, and Canada's Kid Koala, have released mind-blowing solo records. Add Rob Swift and Q-Bert to the list. Perhaps because he's based closer to hip hop's source, Swift includes more concessions to conventional song structure on The Ablist. He often incorporates MCs into his mix, while "All That Scratching Is Making Me Rich" drops Swift in with a live funk band. Q-Bert, along with his Bay Area cohorts, is further out on the edge. Wave Twisters is supposedly a concept album about some outer-space turntable war involving dentists—just what you might expect from the man who spiced up Dr. Octagon's already gonzo debut, The Octagonecologist. But the real concept is flash, pure and simple. The album is an intricately devised collection of solos, usefully broken down on the www.skratchpiklz.com site, that are so fast, funny, and furious that it's almost impossible to keep up with all the guest scratchers, let alone the "plot."

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