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The following appeared in the December 8 2000 issue of Isthmus, a newspaper from Madison, WI:

The Droplift Project

If you listen closely to the first few seconds of Turntable Trainwreck's audio collage "Cubicle 38 Droplift Blues," you can barely make out a sample from the Negativland song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," the one that prompted a copyright- infringement lawsuit from U2's label. It's an appropriate sample, considering how "Cubicle 38" was constructed - entirely from borrowed, swiped and legally dubious material - and how it was distributed. The track is on _The Droplife Project_, a CD featuring work by 29 artists from the U.S. and Canada that was independently produced, shrink-wrapped and "droplifted" (or "reverse shoplifted" into the CD bins at chain music stores like Best Buy, Half Price Books and Tower Records. Sometimes accompanied by official-looking "Droplift Project" bin dividers, the CDs are now masquerading as regular inventory alongside discs by Eminem and Britney Spears. For those who stumble on the bardcode-less CD, it could mean a free compact disc. For sampling musicians whose work raises the ire of industry lawyers, it's perhaps the only way for "100% recycled" work to find its way into major distribution.

The CD's title was coined by UW law student Richard Holland, a.k.a. Turntable Trainwreck, and it encompasses a range of work that runs a hazy continuum between political commentary and music. To the uninitiated, listening to the disc can require open-mindedness. Tracks like Tim Maloney's "Thunderclock" (seemingly cobbled together from action-show theme songs and kung fu movie outtakes), Reggae Death Squad's "Rub My Face" (sampling heavily from a documentary about Bootsy Collins) and Kumquat's "Everyone Is Afraid Of Clowns" (a retro- tech mix of hip-hop drums, roller-rink organ and elf songs from a Burl Ives-style Christmas special) provide an unfamiliar, yet enticing, musical experience. Other tracks, like Holland's, delve into a realm of noise experimentation, and some of these work better than others.

The CD offers a compelling introduction to the genre of audio collage. And for the price - like the samples it contains - it's a steal.

-Paul Schmelzer

(MP3 files of _The Droplift Project_ are available free at www.droplift.com.)