Leviathan Jams, the Inventory Cut: a DJ mix & fair dealing field-test for ACCUTE 2022’s soundtable

Stream the mix at the link above. Access a transcript at https://academicalism.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/mccutcheon_leviathanjamsinventorycut-djmix-transcriptaccute2022soundtable.pdf — and for the hearing impaired, loud playback or wearing a device like SubPac is recommended. Access a downloadable mp3 of the mix at https://drive.google.com/file/d/16EMfdi7blsSjq1ORhuQoSMLhnDsbWYbA/view?usp=sharing

Leviathan Jams mixes music used in James S.A.Corey’s #TheExpanse and Dionne Brand’s Inventory; field-tests a countermeasure against copyright bot overreach; and exercises #fairdealing in #openaccess research. The track list and abstract follow below.

Track List

00:00 The Carpenters, “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” (A&M, 1977; cover of Klaatu’s 1976 record)

* 00:03 Deep Purple, “Highway Star” (Purple, 1972)

00:04 CC radio static sample

00:05 Rush, “Cygnus X1 Book I: The Voyage” (Anthem, 1977)

00:11 CC radio dial tuning sample

00:12 sample of dialogue from “Flu Season,” Season 3 Episode 2 of Parks and Recreation (NBC, 2011) by Tom Haverford (perf. Aziz Ansari)

* 00:18 sample of dialogue from “Intransigence,” Season 3 Episode 9 of The Expanse (SyFy, 2015) by Drummer (perf. Cara Gee)

00:19 sample of The Beatles, “Revolution 9” (Apple, 1968)

00:21 Marvin Gaye, “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” (1971)

00:29 Deadmau5, “Do It Again” (2006; samples Sneaker Pimps, “Spin Spin Sugar [Armand’s Dark Garage mix]” [Clean Up/Virgin, 1996])

* 00:37 [Cheb] Khaled, “Didi” (Barclay, 1992)

01:10 CT Burners and Jubilee, “Kick It (The Squire of Gothos remix)” (Nightshifters, 2009)

* 04:46 Joey Cramsey, “Radio Free Eros (OPA Fan remix)” (no label, 2017; fan-made song sampling dialogue and music from “Static,” Season 2 Episode 3 of The Expanse [SyFy, 2017]) https://soundcloud.com/user-444579259/the-expanse-whispers-of-eros

04:46 Crisp Biscuit, “Wink1” (no label, 2002; remix of Josh Wink’s “Higher state of consciousness” [Strictly Rhythm, 1995] sampling Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache” [Pride, 1973])

* 08:29 Gatekeeper, “Tense Past” (Punch Drunk, 2007; used in “Rock Bottom,” Season 1 Episode 6 of The Expanse [SyFy, 2015])

08:41 Lou Reed, “Romeo Had Juliette” (Sire, 1989)

08:45 Fader Gladiator, “Battle of the Planets” (Kickin, 1997; samples John Williams’ “Imperial March” [RSO, 1980])

09:12 The Beatles, “Revolution 1” (Apple, 1968)

* 09:30 Tigerstyle feat. Kaur-B, “Zulfaan De Naag (Monstaboy remix)” (AK Music, 2013; used in “Remember the Cant,” Season 1 Episode 3 of The Expanse [SyFy, 2015])

13:19 CC radio static sample * 13:19 sample of dialogue from “Pyre,” Season 2 Episode 8 of The Expanse (SyFy, 2017) by Anderson Daws (perf. Richard Harris)

About “Leviathan Jams”

You can seldom criticize [intellectual property] law by breaking it and yet expect the law to forgive your infraction as criticism. (Saint-Amour 19)

My ACCUTE soundtable contribution is a music mix, “Leviathan Jams,” designed to field-test a particular DJ mixing technique—the sustained synchronization of two to four tracks—in social media platforms surveilled by automated copyright enforcement mechanisms (copyright bots). This mix field-tests the hypothesis that a sufficiently complex music mix can jam the signals copyright bots use to suppress the unlicensed reproduction of copyrighted music on Internet social platforms, where users’ rights (e.g. fair dealing) supposedly apply but copyright bots routinely override them.

My mixing methodology is based on the approaches of DJs like Jeff Mills, Z-Trip, and Grandmaster Flash; on the “CV Dazzle” makeup strategy developed by artist Adam Harvey to resist facial recognition technology; and on arguments for appropriative forms as creative expression (see Amani, Coombe et al, Shields). This music-mixing methodology’s basis in playback and repetition also engages with critical theories of slowness (see Berg and Seeber, Bureau).

“Leviathan Jams” imagines a dialectical dialogue between two improbably paired literary works—Dionne Brand’s 2006 long poem Inventory and James S.A. Corey’s roman fleuve, The Expanse (2011-21)—by combining music cited in Inventory (listed above in bold) with music cited in The Expanse, (listed with asterisk *). Both Brand’s and Corey’s works share practices of quoting music, the exercise of fair dealing and fair use (the unauthorized use of copyrighted works for specific purposes like research), articulations of labour solidarity, and dialectical elements of form. Inventory quotes music by major artists like the Beatles, whose song lyrics command astronomical licensing fees (see Orr); complementarily, The Expanse often mentions poetry (e.g. Corey, Leviathan Wakes, p. 520), and the series’ plots involve intellectual property, open access, piracy, and audio remixing (Babylon’s Ashes, p. 245-6, 248; Leviathan Wakes, p. 445; Nemesis Games, p. 454), while self-reflexively acknowledging their own contradictory status as openly derivative (Leviathan Wakes, p. x) intellectual property (Leviathan Wakes, pp. 211, 343; Babylon’s 222). Both works also share a specific anti-colonial trope. In Inventory, Brand writes: “does she care about “the human species / spreading out across the cosmos” / no, God forbid, stop them, and forgive her this one / imprecation to a deity” (p. 48). In the first Expanse novel, the detective Miller (whose investigation of Juliet Mao’s case informs my renaming Lou Reed’s titular “Juliette” with the Beatles’ line in “Revolution 1” about “Mao”), reflecting: “‘Stars are better off without us,’ he said, but too softly for anyone but Julie to hear” (Corey, Leviathan Wakes, p. 465). In the subsequent third novel another character, referring to “the stars,” “wonder[s] if we should have them” (Abaddon’s Gate, p. 539). “Leviathan Jams” echoes this anti-colonial trope in a song Inventory quotes, Marvin Gaye’s 1971 “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”: “rockets / moonshots / spend it on / the have-nots.” Gaye’s track mixes with “Didi” by the raï musician Cheb Khaled, the only real-world pop star named in the Expanse books (Babylon’s Ashes, p. 168), which refer often to raï music (e.g. Memory’s Legion, pp. 6, 76, 144; Nemesis Games, p. 433). As this shared anti-colonial trope thematizes deterritorialization, so does the mix’s form practice depropertization.

By synchronizing and juxtaposing samples of music cited by Inventory and the Expanse franchise “Leviathan Jams” field-tests copyright bots’ capacity to identify discrete songs. (That listening to the mix resonates with a major plot point in the last Expanse novel, Leviathan Falls, is a happy, uncanny coincidence.) “Leviathan Jams,” then, both prototypes a “jamming” device (Corey, Leviathan Falls, pp. 266, 442) and models fair dealing. Notice or takedown of the mix would prove my hypothesis wrong. The mix was recorded using DJay for iPad (fig. 1), edited using Audacity (fig. 2), and saved as mp3 for sharing; the file is available on request, and a transcript is forthcoming.

Works cited and consulted

1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything. Prod. and dir. Asif Kapadia et al, Apple TV+, 2021.

Amani, Bita. “Copyright and Freedom of Expression: Fair Dealing between Work and Play.” Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online, edited by Rosemary J. Coombe et al, U of Toronto P, 2014, pp. 43-55.

Berg, Maggie and Barbara K. Seeber. The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy. U of Toronto P, 2016.

Brand, Dionne. Inventory. McClelland & Stewart, 2006.

The Bureau of Noncompetitive Research [Victoria Stanton and Stacey Cann]. Slowness and the Institution: Doing Research Differently [webinar series]. 29 Sept.-24 Nov. 2021.

Corey, James S.A. Abaddon’s Gate (2013). Orbit, 2014.

—. Leviathan Falls. Orbit, 2021.

—. Leviathan Wakes (2011). Tenth anniversary ed. Orbit, 2021.

—. Memory’s Legion. Orbit, 2022.

—. Nemesis Games (2015). Orbit, 2016.

—. Babylon’s Ashes (2016). Orbit, 2017.

Eshun, Kodwo. More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction. Serpent’s Tail, 1998.

Guertin, Carolyn. Digital Prohibition: Piracy and Authorship in New Media Art. Continuum, 2012.

Harvey, Adam. “Computer Vision Dazzle Camouflage.” https://cvdazzle.com/, 2020.

Jameson, Frederic. Marxism and Form: 20th-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature. Princeton UP, 1974.

Katz, Ariel. “Fair Use 2.0: The Rebirth of Fair Dealing in Canada.” The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook 20 the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law, edited by Michael Geist. U of Ottawa P, 2013, pp. 93-156.  

McRobbie, Angela. “Thinking With Music.” Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky: Music and Myth, edited by Karen Kelly and Evelyn McDonell, New York UP, 1999, pp. 37-49.

Murray, Laura J., and Samuel E. Trosow. Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide. 2nd ed., Between the Lines, 2013.

Nair, Meera. “How Canadian Education Really Hurts Creators.” Fair Duty, 16 Oct. 2017, https://fairduty.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/how-canadian-education-really-hurts-creators/.

Orr, David. “When Quoting Verse, One Must Be Terse.” New York Times, 8 Sept. 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/opinion/when-quoting-verse-one-must-be- terse.html.

Reynolds, Simon. Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno & Rave Culture. Little, Brown & Co., 1998.

Richardson, Tasman. “Jawa Manifesto” (1997), ed. Elenore Chesnutt, Incite!, 2008, https://incite-online.net/richardson2.html

Saint-Amour, Paul K. The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination. Cornell UP, 2003. Shields, David, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (2010). Vintage, 2011.

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