For Zen, Japanese producer/mixer DJ Krush works his way into a vision of sublime, downbeat hip-hop that's a snug fit with the title. The opening "Song 1" is an irresistible slice of trance-state trip-hop, with the cascading notes of a vibraphone and flute perfectly complementing the atmospheric grooves. Krush also continues the collaborational bent of previous LPs, with hip-hop heads Black Thought and ?uestlove from the Roots (appearing on separate tracks), Company Flow, and DJ Disk alongside left-field choices Zap Mama, N'Dea Davenport, and trumpeter Kazufumi Kodama. On these tracks, the beats and effects are more pointed than on the opener and, as in the past, DJ Krush proves he's a stellar jack-of-all-trades trackmaster. The tuneless bassline and production gloom surrounding "Vision of Art" are the perfect bedrock for hardcore paranoiacs Company Flow, while the frenetic, quasi-jungle programming on "Sonic Traveler" only highlights the incredible flair of guest Tunde Ayanyemi (on kudi and bata drums). And while any other hip-hop producer would burn out on at least a few collaborations, Krush just keeps turning out excellent song beds: for DJ Disk on "Duck Chase," for Zap Mama on "Danger of Love," and for Kazufumi Kodama on "Day's End." All these great appearances make any disappointment caused by the lack of solo jaunts after "Song 1" practically nil.
AllMusic Review by John Bush