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Electronic/Dance - Released January 25, 2019 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.
Electronic/Dance - Released September 14, 2012 | Ninja Tune
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
Film Soundtracks - Released April 27, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc
Electronic/Dance - Released February 1, 2000 | Ninja Tune
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
Alternative & Indie - Released June 9, 2017 | Columbia
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