KID KOALA plays the Hoxton on Friday (November 30). See listing. Rating: NNNN In an era when many young DJs have never even touched vinyl, where does an old-fashioned turntablist like Kid Koala fit? Choosing to make an album based on the manual triggering of a vintage sampler and traditional record-scratching in 2012 feels as self-consciously retro as putting out a banjo album of old hillbilly songs on a wax cylinder or raising chickens in your backyard.
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.
This is the sixth studio album for the legendary Ninja Tune by Kid Koala (aka Montrealer Eric San). Created using the fabled E-Mu SP1200 ? the holy grail of hip-hop samplers ? 12 Bit Blues has a weathered feel to it, with Koala's trademark cuts and scratches taking a backseat to pitch-shifted vocal snippets and muscular instrumental breaks culled from a range of early blues records. Like its subject matter, the tracks on 12-Bit Blues are stripped down to their bare bones ? it's quite a departure from Koala's usual frenetic production style.
Canadian turntablist goes to meet the devil down by the crossroads. Stevie Chick 2012 “The blues is not like a plaything, like some people think they are,” croaks Delta blues legend Son House across the opening track of Kid Koala’s fifth album. Lord knows what he would’ve made of 12 Bit Blues – a blues record unlike pretty much any other. Though it’s likely he saw it coming somehow: “Youngsters today will take anything and make the blues out of it,” he says on 1 Bit Blues.