DJ Wally’s Nothing Stays the Same is constructed with two principles in mind: The listener shall be entranced first by music, and entranced subsequently by the methods of the madman composing the music. The madness of the work is populated by a barrage of sound effects, not excluding rain, looped bleeps and buzzes, and bytes of electronic-sponsored lunacy. Nothing Stays the Same continues in the beat-infected electronic tradition, but DJ Wally, aka Pish Posh, aka Keef Destefano, is mindful of keeping things interesting. He doesn’t subscribe much to scratch ‘n’ sample turntablism, but rather weaves sound effects into his drum ‘n’ bass setups. Such mindfulness makes Nothing feel like a messy bedroom though; well-liked belongings are exactly where they should be, but it’s still a little too disorganized.
Chilled grooves and meandering wind instruments characterize Nothing Stays the Same, though these statements simplify exactly what Wally has done here and may detract from his genuinely creative output. Marketing strategy dictates that the album should be filed under “electronic music” in record stores in order to reach Wally’s faithful audience. But Wally’s innovation boasts more than an array of laid-back beats and looped bleep sounds, and his access to Thirsty Ear’s Blue Series’ small group adds a pleasant dynamic to the record.
The easily recognizable sounds of a car door opening and closing introduce “A Day in the Life,” as the taps of the looming drums enter, both live and electronic in origin. Wally’s agenda is revealed in the sound of the car door itself, as “A Day in the Life” is an eventful day trip through eerie electronic climates and looped siren sounds. Most importantly, the Blue Series gents make for an interesting jazz backdrop, as they’ve done most recently on Antipop’s stuff as well as DJ Spooky’s Dubtometry. David Ware’s burping sax is first up to bat, taking solo duties over Wally’s looped monotone bleeps. Flutes enter shortly thereafter, providing otherworldly accompaniment when the track breaks to allow for an unprecedented rainstorm. The rain tapers off, and a slightly altered version of the same beat filters back in, alongside more looping and signing reeds and flute sounds. “A Day in the Life” is well placed because it offers a hint of the antics to come, and indicates that Wally’s work is hardly a bland chapter in the electronic genre.
While the jazz elements are retained throughout, including Matthew Shipp behind quirky piano outbursts on “Shipp Solo,” DJ Wally incorporates an assortment of sound effects that break the album almost in two pieces. It would be closer to two pieces if the soundscape portion didn’t really take hold until closer to the end of the record, but it does. Track 8 is where Shipp grabs solo reins, while Track 9 is aptly titled “Paint by Number” due to its random arrangement of echo chamber vocal noises and lack of structure. While being an interesting nod to acid jazz and possibly even Frank Zappa, it’s misplaced and corrupts the elegant, chilled atmosphere that Wally has so creatively weaved in tracks previous.
Nothing Stays the Same follows no distinct pattern because of Wally & Co.’s innovative response to the electronic drum ‘n’ bass genre. The frantic jazz accompaniment serves the beats well, and the listener will be wise to hit the wet bar for the first two thirds of the record, and skip a few later numbers in the mix to postpone the hangover headache well into the following morning.