Review: Kid Koala’s 12-Bit Blues

Kid Koala: 12-Bit BluesKid Koala: 12-Bit Blues (Ninja Tune, 9/18/12)

“2-Bit Blues”

Kid Koala: “2-Bit Blues”

Canadian DJ/turntablist Eric San, better known as Kid Koala, has long been known for his eclectic collection of records. Cartoon TV specials, old comedy sketches, bodily functions — you name it and he has chopped, scratched, or spliced it into his work. Now, for his latest studio album, he takes on the blues.

With the aid of an E-mu SP-1200 sampler — an old bit of machinery but one that is new to Mr. Koala — the fast-fingered one twists and folds old blues recordings onto themselves, foregoing sequencing software to perform the tracks in real time (and later add cuts over the top). Many moments feel like cover songs with stutters and scratches, but the tunes really are more like down-on-their-luck Frankenstein’s Monsters, blended together with San’s dexterity. 12-Bit Blues isn’t all bluesy, though. Next to the cooing vocal samples, down-and-dirty guitars, and harmonicas are funky horn cuts, jazzy piano lines, and chirping electronics.

It may not be the most obvious direction for a DJ, but for Kid Koala, it’s just the latest genre on which he’s left his distinctive mark.

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