Friday, October 02, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - September 30/09

Over at I've written about Kid Koala's new project The Slew which plays Montreal tonight (Oct. 2) and Toronto the next day. The (somewhat edited) post runs down the basic info about the project, but I was tempted to write more about the aesthetic behind it.

The turntable generated cock-rock of 100% goes down easy (ahem), but lurking behind its Bic-flicking 'tude is Koala's typically surreal approach to music making. Perhaps more than any other turntablist, Koala has succeeded in fusing the hip hop aesthetic of the medium (yeah, yeah... John Cage etc., but most turntablists around the world trace their lineage, or define themselves against New York in the 70s) with adaptable, tone-generating techniques which interfaces well with other musical strategies. And he does it with a sense of humour which only occasionally lapses into silliness.

Since he and partner in crime Dynomite D are working within a genre tantamount to musical comfort food, he can get away with some major idiosyncracies. In our interview, Koala said: "We wanted that dust on the record" - that dirty vinyl texture was introduced to modern music by hip hop, and has never been the intention of rock bands, even though the extreme processing of electric guitars generates a similar sort of rough, random noise. Vinyl noise reinforces the artificiality of the collage. You can hear all those turntable siginifiers like looped dust, occasionally awkward flams between loops that don't quite match up, fluctuating levels caused by manual manipulation of audio sources, and of course, 'hand-cut' guitar riffs which underline the music's composition via turntablism rather than a live band.

These techniques also set 100% apart from Fatboy Slim, or more recently DJ Champion, who espouse a smoother sort of big beat, using obvious turntablist sounds as window dressing as opposed to building blocks. With these two artists, the consistency of the beat is always job one; with Koala, it's always about pushing the limits of the technology even if the beat stutters a little. In this context, the slight variability of the beat makes the whole project rock harder, in that the mimicry is closer to a rock drummer's sense of drama than a DJ's.

I've always had great respect for Koala's musical and visual art, but now I'm especially impressed that he's worked harder than ever to create something utterly surreal within something stooopidly satisfying for Q107 disciples and art-gallery bohos alike.

Podcast - excuse the distortion on the mix, since this was the first week of the new studio's operation, the levels weren't optimal.

pama rum kwan - pm pocket music (sublime frequencies)
panatibat - kwan jit sri prajaw (sublime frequencies)
good news for you - m. ashrat feat nahid akhtar (finders keepers)
din ya sugri - christy azuma & uppers international (soundway)
se ba ho - orchestre poly-rythmo (analog africa)
movin' and groovin' - little francesco greaves (soundway)
vuleveme a querer - perez prado (unknown)
angels - max pashm (proper)
beauties from athina - shantel (essay)
pretty face - chancery blame & gadjo club rmx by andy kisaragi (no label)
C. V. J x + 1 - casey foubert & james mcallister (asthmatic kitty)
carbon - dave da gato (fluid ounce)
100% - the slew (no label)
earthshaking - jahdan blakkamoore (gold dust)
la bonita - el remolon (no label)
force to quit - force quit (zung zeng)
salvation - caballo & the mothafu kings (no label)
warren dub - morphy (nerve recordings)
strictly ital - dubkasm & ras addis (
i and i - agape (sustainable)
brothers and sisters - version xcursion feat kulcha ites (vx)
holly version - jackie mittoo (coxsone)

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