When it comes to big ears, few folks boast a more outsized set than Jace Clayton. Operating for more than a decade under the nom de knob DJ /rupture, Clayton is a pioneer in taking the omnivorous crate-digging DJ aesthetic global, filling his influential mixtapes with not only the products of first-world clubs and conservatories but also with the beats and sounds of further flung and less prosperous parts of the planet. Spread across his turntables, the term "world beat" stands for more than a convenient generic marketing term.
The Boston-born Clayton made his adopted name in 2001 with Gold Teeth Thief, a mix that carefully layered everything from Missy Elliott to Jamaican dancehall to contemporary composer Luciano Berio to drill 'n' bass beats to indie hip-hop stars Cannibal Ox, all alongside and on top of his own uncategorizable tracks. More mixes followed, from the even more eclectic/hectic Minesweeper Suite the next year to 2004's Shotgun Wedding Vol. 1: The Bidoun Sessions, a split release with DJ Mutamassik that explored Clayton's love of Middle Eastern music. But paying attention to Clayton's work somehow starts to make terms like "Middle Eastern music" seem insufficient. By listing his source materials and exploring his musical enthusiasms in interviews and on his Mudd Up blog, he strikes a blow for putting a name and a context to a sample of an otherwise anonymous Arabic vocalist that a turntable-toting tourist might appropriate as random sonic exotica.
Clayton has since DJed around the world, crafted many more mixes, and recorded several non-mix albums, including last year's Patches, a moody collaboration with guitarist Andy Moor of the Ex, the legendary Dutch punk band that has gone out of its way to investigate everything from the avant-garde (recording with the late cellist Tom Cora) to Ethiopian pop (touring with saxophonist/composer Getatchew Mekuria). And Clayton's musical steamer trunk keeps expanding, from U.K. dubstep to contemporary Colombian cumbia. Listening to his work, you get the feeling that the world keeps getting bigger and smaller at the same time.