It’s a perennial source of mystery how Joshua Judd Porter, or DJ Ezra Klein, produces his art. I, however, am lucky to have had the sublime pleasure to witness Porter working. To profess the ability to accurately represent an artist’s process is nothing short of an injustice, and Porter’s is no exception. However, I shall do my best to sketch the outlines of a process that is ultimately ineffable.

It’s 3 p.m. Porter will be in his undersized quad, sitting at his desk with headphones on. Porter first finds a track that speaks to him. In the case of this EP, he draws inspiration from Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire, The Smiths, and Father John Misty – little-known indie artists. Porter, well-known in the scene for his minimalist sensibilities, will work in Audacity rather than bloated programs, such as Ableton, which you may see “prestigious” DJs use.

One can’t critique the music on Porter’s album without an appreciation of his deliberate production choices. It’s trite to point out, but every listener will, of course, have the Dada sensibility of Rauschenberg or Duchamp rush to mind when listening to tracks such as “Chicago (Chopped and Screwed) – Sufjan Stevens.” The uncultured may judge Porter’s soundscapes as a collage of detritus, distinctive only by their sheer unoriginality and technical incompetence. However, his skillful application of what many may deem “unrefined” is not haphazard. How could anyone listen as Sufjan Stevens’ voice become vocoderized for a minute without their brain tricking them into thinking it to be an eternity? How could anyone with a heart, who has ever loved, see the twenty Google images of Sufjan slowly zoom out, without becoming overwhelmed?

Porter’s new collection provokes an eerie atmosphere, resulting from the clash of two distinct cultures and sounds. Porter twists the urban melancholia of artists such as Arcade Fire with the opulent, leaned-out instrumentals of the early 90s-era Houston rap scene. What results can’t be reduced to either of his two influences or even to Porter himself – he has reached the artistic apotheosis – originality. Perhaps we can reframe what Baskerville said in Florence Green Is 81 – Porter’s music fulfills the mission of art,  “the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart.”

When Porter says “Chopped and skrewed, real smiths hours, just heard the smiths this year for the first time, did you guys know about them? really exciting stuff” in the description of his “There is a Light that Never Goes out (Chopped and Screwed remix),” we are briefly transported to a time when we too had just discovered The Smiths and can share in Porter’s unspoiled sense of wonder and excitement. A time before we knew Morrissey was alt-right, before we realized that The Cure was honestly just the superior band.

Porter’s EP offers a respite from the world. If only for a moment we can be Armie Hammer in Porter’s video for “The Suburbs (chopped and screwed) as covered by Father John Misty (armie hammer version)” – if we can be untroubled by the outside world, dancing endlessly, then Porter has fulfilled his mission.

In the words of the illustrious Win Butler:

Sometimes I can’t believe it

I’m moving past the feeling

Sometimes I can’t believe it

I’m moving past the feeling


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