Kid Koala

'12 Bit Blues' (album stream)

> > Sep 17 2012

Kid Koala - '12 Bit Blues' (album stream)
By Alex HudsonWhether it means graphic novels or headphone shows, you can always count of turntable master Kid Koala to take an against-the-grain approach to music making. His latest album is no exception. Entitled 12 Bit Blues, it arrives on September 18 via Ninja Tune, and you can listen to the whole thing now on Exclaim.ca.

In interviews, Kid Koala mastermind Eric San has explained that this is his own take on a blues record. Don't expect it be be filed under roots music in your local record shop, however; San's unique approach to the blues was of course created via his unique turntable approach.

San has noted that many of today's popular music traditions trace back to blues. With this modern approach to an old form, he has made the connection between old and new genres all the more apparent.

Limited early edition copies of 12 Bit Blues come with a cardboard, hand-powered turntable and a flexi disc. Watch a video of how that works right here, and order a copy right here. Like we said -- no one does it quite like Kid Koala.

Also, previously reported, Kid Koala has several North American dates coming up. You can see all those stops here.

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This is badass- it's the first Kid Koala record that sounds so awesome you don't even have to give it extra props for the inspiration and technical mastery it took to put it together. In the past it was always much easier to appreciate Eric San live, even in a YouTube video where you could see him work his magic. In his full length albums, San seemed torn between wanting to do music in a hip hop spirit that would please the people, and doing something more introverted and intellectual, almost becoming a one man museum of music history, and the living embodiment of turntablism. He tried to balance the two, but inevitably, the LPs would become more of a statement than something to get the listener dancing, with only brief moments of swagger. 12 Bit Blues changes that- perhaps because turntablism as Koala practices it is on the verge of being a dying art, or perhaps because his recent work (i.e Space Cadet) has gotten so far from his party DJ roots, San chose to make a stab for the first time at a truly feelgood record that employs all his old school DJing skills. It's a refusal to cede this kind of music to the museums, and has a similar relation to hip hop as a modal, post-bop virtuoso making a dance record in the 1960s would've had to jazz- bringing it back to the roots and trying to reconnect with the pleasure he first got out of this music, and reach new listeners who don't realize how much fun old school can be. It's every bit as rigorous in a musicological sense as his past work, serving as a history of the form at the root of the past century of pop music- but it's more focused, with an out of control pop energy level that none of his past records can match. This has to be one of the year's best records (only Grimes' Visions is equal, from the ones I've heard- although I'd say Azealia Banks too, if EPs count), and is already bringing him some welcome mainstream attention. Outside Canada though, it will still end up under the radar, as his work usually does, which is a shame, although probably the way he likes it... aside from the cost to produce these kinds of unique albums and tours, which must be pretty steep, and not entirely covered by the generally reasonable prices he charges for the experience. If Radiohead- a band Koala has had only good words for, by the way- would take some inspiration from the guy they asked to open for them circa Amnesiac, the music scene would be better off. Koala's ambitions are always exactly the right mix of unpretentious and off the wall, and unfortunately those in much better financial positions than him often play it much safer. But until now, it's been hard to convert the casual music listener into Koala by telling them to listen to one of his records. You'd have to give them the whole story, or show them a video of him in action. Thankfully, now we have this record- and great music always trumps a great story.
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