A mixtape curated as part of the exhibition Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, running from 21 February–15 May, 2016.
PARENTAL ADVISORY: EXPLICIT CONTENT
Beyond just being a collection of some of my favorite songs from the 1990s, this mixtape is an attempt to capture some of the overarching feelings of music from the era. The title Dirt/Static references two major trends. Dirt—the distortion, fuzz, and noise in the music of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Yo La Tengo, and of course Nirvana. Static (often caused by literal dirt) is on the old records that were ever present in 1990s sample culture: represented here by Beck (produced by the Dust Brothers); Dr. Dre; Ice Cube (produced by the Bomb Squad); and the kooky Jefferson Airplane, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and barking dog-samples present on Black Sheep’s “Similak Child.” Popular music in the 1990s (especially towards the beginning of the decade) was much more comfortable with noise, imperfection, sloppiness, and earthiness than popular music in the 1980s. We can, of course, thank the “breaking” of punk for that, but we can also thank the Bomb Squad and Dr. Dre. The 1990s were all about “keeping it real” or at least embracing the imperfection of the tools, or sometimes pouring the imperfection on thick, until it was something sculptable in and of itself.