If power is measured in Watts, then the Impala Sound Champions are pretty damn powerful. The six-man Chicago-based DJ collective has been running a number of nights covering a spectrum of styles for nearly ten years in Chicago—but earlier this month, the crew unveiled their long-cooking master plan: their very own Soundsystem, a 25 feet wide and over 10 feet high monster of a PA boxed in custom cherry-stained cabinets and topped with vintage radial theatre horns dipped in fresh gold paint. Adding up all of the amplifiers in the back you arrive at…
To put that in perspective a little bit, when Duke Reid first carved out his Trojan truck 60 years ago to cart his soundsystem around Kingston he was likely pushing less then 10,000 watts—even as soundsystems grew, they still roughly maintained at around 30,000 watts on average. Many current sound systems on the scene today are still in the 10-15,000 watt range. Despacio—James Murphy and 2ManyDJ's soundsystem built last year in the UK—hovers at 50,000 watts. Impala's beast still weighs heavier on the scale. Pretty sure that it comes at you harder, too—the cabinets are hand-splattered with blood from each of the fellas ("I remember when [Impala member] Tony came over one night and was like, "hey Dave, are we gonna do that vampire shit tonight?" says fellow Impala member Dave Mata).
Being a massive presence that it is, the soundsystem earned a perfect display spot—front and center at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago as part of the museum's quarterly Prime Time series. A soundsystem isn't much just sitting there by itself—you need selectors to push it, and hiphop architect Breakbeat Lou and composer/producer Adrian Younge joined Impala to christen the system with their crates as part of the night's entertainment. And if you're reading this on the West Coast, you're in luck—Mata and the crew plan to truck the system out west this winter to throw some parties on the lawn (something you can't quite do in Chicago in February).
Check the shots.
[photos by Manley]