By Harry Myles
When I last spoke with Prodücer D.J. Salingér, he explained his unique style of producing: a combination of existentialism and experimental minimalism similar to Philip Glass and the Books. Needless to say, I was skeptical and a little unsure of what that would sound like. Well, D.J. Salingér has resoundly answered that question. His latest single entitled “Duck & Cover” is a cosmic trip into the existential dimension leaving you in a sonic trance.
To begin, “Duck & Cover” takes clear inspiration from Glass with a haunting drone reminiscent of Glass’ Einstein on the Beach, specifically “Knee Play 1.” About 30 seconds in, the pace picks up with an alternating stream of electronic keys and fifteen seconds later a basic beat enters the foreground steering “Duck & Cover” into “lofi hip hop-beats to relax/study to” territory, albeit at a faster pace. One minute and 30 seconds in, D.J. Salingér then reveals another influence with a spoken word track layered over the beat reminiscent of The Books and The Avalanches. Specifically, The Avalanches’ “Frontier Psychiatrist” comes to mind with it’s slightly distorted, nonsense lyrics.
In “Duck & Cover”, a man’s voice, sounding like a 50s radio ad, first describes a family sitting down for dinner. The voice then begins a PSA on the atomic bomb and what people must do when it eventually hits, namely civilians must “duck and cover.” In the final line, the disembodied man explains children must know what to do when the A-bomb comes because “there might not be any grownups around when the atom bomb explodes.” If that happens the children will be “on [their] own.” And the music stops. The voice stops. You, the listener, are now on your own with an all encompassing silence. This silence begins at three minutes and ten seconds and continues for eight minutes.
You start to wonder if maybe there was a mistake. Did D.J. Salingér accidentally extend the song? Then it hits at 11 minutes and 18 seconds: a sample of a 50s jingle about an alert turtle named Bert that knows how to duck and cover (into his turtle shell), extending the atomic bomb PSA from before.
In the last five seconds of the jingle, the sound distorts and breaks apart into silence to end the track.
The song ends at 11 minutes and 59 seconds, one second from 12:00. On the Doomsday Clock, 12:00 is the apocalypse (originally predicted to be caused by an atomic bomb). Coincidence? Is the distortion at the end of the jingle the detonation of an A-bomb? This little tidbit in the last 30 seconds almost feels like an after credit scene you might find at the end of a Marvel film. A treat for those people willing to wait out a seemingly inconsequential period of prolonged silence.
What does the jingle mean? What does the A-bomb PSA mean? How does it fit into the alien-like collection of beats and electronic notes? Is D.J. Salingér suggesting the Atomic Era was in itself an alien period to the people of today, in which humanity was on the brink of destruction? Or is he suggesting the government PSAs warning against the bomb were so ridiculous that they can now be sampled in experimental tracks from 2020 as a way of laughing at past generations? Or, and this is the last interpretation I can think of, is Salingér saying that just like children would be on their own when the bomb hit, we as a society are all individually on our own in the face of humanity’s current problems i.e. climate change, global pandemics, etc. To incorporate existentialism, are all human beings on their own in this world and must therefore make their own meaning and look after themselves?
After first speaking with D.J. Salingér, I thought the man was odd and pretentious. I doubted his musical abilities based on the fact that he had never heard of the Beatles yet loves Weezer’s Raditude and Make Believe. I can now see that I judged this eccentric producer too quickly. “Duck & Cover” is a fascinating piece of experimental music with addictive loops and puzzling lyrical components. I’ve now listened to the track ten times and I am still trying to decipher Prodücer D.J. Salingér’s work. Perhaps existential production is not as ridiculous as it sounds.
Duck & Cover is available to stream on all major platforms:
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