Kid Koala

12 Bit Blues

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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.

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