DJ Krush

Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best (Soundscapes)

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After a dozen years of releasing unique beats, warped turntablist constructions, and hip-hop that's subterranean yet somehow connected to the genre's golden age, Japanese turntablist and producer DJ Krush released two remixed best-of CDs -- one with vocal cuts, one with instrumentals -- that offer a snapshot of his career for newcomers while giving longtime fans some new angles on tracks they've most likely devoured by now. Some numbers are drastically remixed and some are lightly dusted, but overall it seems he worked really hard on making both volumes of Stepping Stones hang together, quite the accomplishment considering any Krush construction can pull from any number of genres on its own. As on the Lyricism disc, the new touches he has put on these tracks are dark and detached. While the team-up with his American counterpart DJ Shadow is a fascinating, choreographed stumble through film music, cocktail jazz, and ominous electronica, it's the otherworldly folding Krush does to pianist Ken Shima's melodies that makes "Stormy Cloud" one of the most rewarding tracks on the whole collection. Fan favorite "Kemuri" gets a light reworking that softens some of its punch, making this formerly beatbox-driven track sound sinister and lurking in the corners. The remixes flow perfectly from one to the next, and while Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best (Soundscapes) is a success, it's best to skip this single-disc Japanese release and look for the American two-CD set that combines this disc with its vocal counterpart, Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best (Lyricism).

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