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Electronic/Dance - Released October 6, 2003 | Ninja Tune

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Electronic/Dance - Released January 25, 2019 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

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The bewildering first volume of Kid Koala's Music to Draw To series was a departure from his usual brand of whimsical, cut-and-paste turntablism, constructing wintry, ambient, pop soundscapes with the help of Icelandic singer Emilíana Torrini. Io is its sequel, and it seems to expand on the darker impulses of Satellite. This is immediately apparent in the opening piece, "Circle of Clouds," seven stirring minutes of buzzing synths which forcefully cause the speakers to vibrate, along with softer, more chiming tones and drifting post-rock guitars. Second cut "All for You" introduces vocal collaborator Trixie Whitley, and her deeply expressive vocals transform Io into an astral soul album. Her message on this song is purely positive, thanking her subject of affection for enlightening and inspiring her. "Lost at Sea" offers a similarly empowering message over a detached, Krautrock-esque synth pattern and hesitant beats. "Hera's Song," however takes a much more harrowing turn, with vengeful lyrics ("Won't sleep until you're ruined, too") and a crashing, noisy end which sounds like howling wolves and evil sorcery. This is far from the lullaby-like mood of Satellite, but still in the same country -- it's just deeper into the frozen tundra. Some of the album's "Transmission" interludes feature what sounds like the distorted voices from a police scanner, adding to the music's paranoid feel. The album can't stay dark and haunting the whole way through though, and tracks like "Resonance" flicker with a hopeful light. Whitley's final vocal turn, "Look-Back Time," is a graceful resolution, simultaneously delivered as a confessional whisper as well as soft singing. A bit riskier than its predecessor, Io is much more emotionally turbulent, and perhaps too heady to designate as simply background music for creating art. ~ Paul Simpson

Electronic/Dance - Released September 14, 2012 | Ninja Tune

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The blues is the wellspring of American popular music both figuratively (as a source of inspiration and influence) and literally (as a source of raw materials constantly plundered by young artists). What's interesting is how consistently this remains true even as popular music changes in pretty radical ways. The progression from Robert Johnson to Jimi Hendrix is relatively continuous and logical -- but from Robert Johnson to Moby? This album from DJ Kid Koala bridges a gap even wider than the one Moby jumped for his highly influential album Play: while Moby embedded samples of field recordings into his house and techno pieces, with 12 Bit Blues Kid Koala is taking almost the reverse approach. Using a sampler to fold, spindle, and mutilate old blues recordings, he embeds technology into his source material. In the interest of keeping the sounds raw and fresh, Koala decided against using any sequencing software; instead, he multi-tracked layers of samples, manipulated them, then added final tracks of scratching and cutting over the top. The result is full of familiar elements, but very odd juxtapositions: despite the frequent incursion of virtuosic turntablist flourishes, there are no breakbeats and there is little that can reasonably be called "funky"; the voices and guitar sounds are archetypal, but in many cases they are also radically deconstructed. This is the kind of album that Skip McDonald might make if he were a DJ rather than a guitarist. It's intriguing and at times vaguely unsettling. ~ Rick Anderson
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Electronic/Dance - Released January 20, 2017 | Arts & Crafts

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 27, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc

Booklet
Floor Kids is a family-friendly video game centered around breakdancing, designed by Canadian turntablist Kid Koala and animator JonJon. Players travel through several cities and build up a crew of b-boys and b-girls, each with distinct moves and strengths, and progress through a series of dance battles, eventually ending up at the closing ceremony of a peace summit. Kid Koala wrote and recorded all of the game's music, which was subsequently released as a stand-alone soundtrack. The album's 42 tracks alternate between vocal instructions intended to direct players on their quest, brief interstitial tracks, and most importantly, the music for the dance battles themselves. The tracks pay homage to multiple eras of hip-hop and funk, from Newcleus-style electro to choppy, breakbeat-heavy Golden Age rap production to slightly more abstract 21st century underground hip-hop. The tracks are laced with fuzzy, flanged-out guitar solos, jazzy bass, and of course, loads of turntable scratching, but all of it is smoothly integrated into the music, never sounding abrasive or jarring. Occasionally there are some hints of suspense, such as "Big Trouble in Little Battle" (which one assumes is at least partially intended as a tribute to John Carpenter), but nothing deviates from the good-natured spirit of the game. The battle tracks are all structured similarly, with a crowd of kids cheering "Go! Go! Go! Go!" in order to hype up the dancers, and this gets to be quite grating after a while. Obviously, this is music meant to be danced to, so if you're just playing the soundtrack album rather than the actual game, it makes more sense to be staging your own dance battles with a group of friends rather than just sitting and listening by yourself. ~ Paul Simpson

Electronic/Dance - Released February 1, 2000 | Ninja Tune

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Unless you're a DJ or a student of electronic music-making, turntablism can be something of an esoteric art form -- everyone knows it's the foundation of hip-hop, but its techniques aren't as widely understood or appreciated as those of a traditional instrumentalist. The turntablist revival of the '90s produced some major talents (the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, the Beat Junkies, the X-Ecutioners), but the nuances of their skills were often lost on casual observers, and only sometimes translated to recordings. That's why Kid Koala's full-length debut, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, is so important: It's capable of making turntablism engaging to a wider audience. It isn't that Kid Koala is necessarily the greatest DJ spinning, although he's clearly in the top tier. It's that he's able to bring so much personality and entertainment value to his work, which makes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome arguably the most appealing turntablist album yet released. Unlike many of his peers, Koala makes heavy use of dialogue snippets from movies and TV shows, instructional records, and other obscure sources. They provide a running commentary on the action, and Koala also assembles them into mini-skits, or makes wry jokes about the lack of respect afforded DJs as musicians. Elsewhere, there are aural jokes wholly dependent on Koala's DJ skill -- "Drunk Trumpet," for example, is a cut-up jazz solo played on the crossfader. But all of this isn't to say that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a novelty item. Koala makes it easy for listeners to follow the transformation of his source material into totally different creations, and builds some deceptively dense, layered tracks; plus, his explosive scratching (best heard on "A Night at the Nufonia") is the equivalent of a guitar shredder soloing. His infectious sense of fun is simply a gateway to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome's readily apparent musical sophistication. All in all, a superb and accessible introduction to a specialist art form. ~ Steve Huey

Film Soundtracks - Released September 19, 2011 | Ninja Tune

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 9, 2017 | Columbia

Electronic/Dance - Released April 18, 2000 | Ninja Tune

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Electronic/Dance - Released November 30, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

Electronic/Dance - Released August 18, 2003 | Ninja Tune

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Electronic/Dance - Released December 14, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 18, 2019 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

Electronic/Dance - Released September 25, 2006 | Ninja Tune

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 11, 2019 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

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Film Soundtracks - Released April 20, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 23, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.

Electronic/Dance - Released August 24, 2012 | Ninja Tune

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