Two ninjas, a dinosaur and a weirdo.
The DPL catalog is no stranger to the Ninja Tunes label and all its abstract beat creators, such as ColdCut, Roots Manuva, Bonobo, Diplo, Emika and the massive Xen Cuts compilation. Early this year, it will be adding two new selections from the UK-based label, with releases by the amazing Kid Koala and a side project of Amon Tobin called Two Fingers. So strap on your ninjato, slip into your shinobi shozoko, and turn your speakers up to "11" because it is about to get weird.
Kid Koala, aka Eric San, is a Canadian DJ/turntablist/musician who is a true master of his craft. With 5 albums, various movie scores, and collaborations with the likes of the Gorillaz, Deltron and Blue Man Group under his belt, he has worn many hats...but now he wants to tackle The Blues. On his newest journey, 12 Bit Blues, Kid Koala proves once again he is more than just a party-rocking DJ. The title of the album not only correlates to the turntables used to create the album (the SP-1200) with vinyl (12 bit resolution), but also the basic 12-bar framework of a blues composition reflected by a standard harmonic progression of 12 bars in a 4/4 time signature. It is this kind of attention to detail that Kid Koala infuses into all of his recordings, and 12 Bit Blues is no different. Take for instance the "312-212-213" chant in "8 Bit Blues" that holds the song together. They also happen to be the area codes for LA, Chicago and NY, tour stops for any blues artist worth their salt back in the day. But aside from being a massive music nerd, Kid Koala brings his precision skills to the table, as always, to construct blues cuts that might even make you jump up from your barstool at a darkwood dive and move your feet a little. Like the sax and piano jerk of "4 Bit Blues" or the stumbling stabs and big drums of "3 Bit Blues" that circle a moaning blues man and harmonica like a pack of dusty wolves, these cuts are sure to kick up the sawdust on the floor of your favorite BBQ joint. When you think of turntablism mixed with blues, your ears might give you a strange look, but leave it to Kid Koala to give this genre splice the lightning it needed to come alive. Keeping the gritty and dusty sound that vinyl can have to enhance the filthy essence of the blues, it comes across as a match made on a back porch in the deep south over a jar of moonshine.
Fast-forward from 1912 to the near-future and we meet up with beat-maker Doubleclick and his not-so-silent partner, the incredible Amon Tobin, to introduce you to the twisted world of future-hop via Two Fingers. This side project of Amon Tobin's started in 2009 in London with a self-titled album on the Ninja Tunes sub-label, Big Dada, that incorporated British rapper Sway and remixes by The Bug, which caused some serious damage in the Brixton dance halls. Since then, the pair have been digital pen pals across the Atlantic Ocean, and after Amon finished up last year's highly successful ISAM project, he decided to put the art on hold and return to the fun with a new Two Fingers album titled Stunt Rhythms. If you are familiar with Amon's work you know it can border on strange and eclectic, which clearly seeps through in the sound of Two Fingers. But with the balance of Doubleclick and a goal of making future-style hip-hop, the project is definitely its own beast altogether. With an emphasis on warping sounds to make off-center hip-hop that would be more at home in a club than an art gallery, Stunt Rhythms struts and throbs its way through 13 cuts of beats that are straight out of a flying car sound system in Bladerunner. From the machine-gun drums that cut through thick bass smoke on the plodding "Stripe Rhythm" to the essence of sliding down the side of the Kebnekaise mountain in a tank full of angry dancing hornets on "Sweden", it is easy to hear that this is not your typical hip-hop; then again, nothing that Amon does can ever be labeled "typical."
From reconstructed blues to robot crunk, both of these ninjas should fulfill your head-nodding needs in 2013, so make sure to place them on hold pronto...now, onto the dancefloor!!
As a Ninja Tunes alumnus, Wes Gully (aka Diplo) was always about pushing boundaries and genres when he released his debut album Florida with them back in 2004. Since then, he has started his own label (Mad Decent), formed his own super group (Major Lazer), become a producer (Santigold, M.I.A., Die Antwoord), marketed international sounds to a wider audience (Rio's Bali Funk & Moombahton), traveled the world 10 times over, and is now finally releasing another Diplo album, aptly titled Express Yourself. Though only clocking in at the length of an EP, this CD is packed with all the sounds and ideas that make Diplo the music mogul and industry king he is today by bringing together the ghettos of the dirty South with the beaches of Jamaica by way of the dance floors of Philly and Baltimore. Diplo has proven once again that it does not matter where it's from, if it makes you dance. Take, for example, the reggae bounce of "Move Around" with dancehall superstar Elephant Man chatting over crushing bass and sweeping lasers, right next to the gutter thump of "Express Yourself" with Nicky Da B that is straight out of the back alleys of New Orleans, both of which would fit hand-in-hand in a sweaty club DJ set. He even brings in dubstep's prodigal child Datsik to inject atomic light-saber bass into dance-floor favorite "Barely Standing", just to let you know he is still capable of doing damage to your home speakers, and to give you a hint of what sort of carnage is to come with a new Major Lazer album coming out this summer.
As contrasting as these three releases may be, it would not be out of place to find them all mixed together in one night on the decks of the outlandish and peculiar Gaslamp Killer. Born into the eclectic LA underground beat scene, William Bensussan quickly made a name for himself with his hyper DJ performances and penchant for spinning everything under the sun, as long as it sounded cool to him. He co-founded the highly successful Low End Theory DJ night in Los Angeles, and then started offering to do production for acts that would come through, like the cerebral work he did on Gonjasufi's A Sufi And A Killer and remixes he composed for Ninja Tunes. After touring the world ten times over with his physically unhinged DJ sets, he finally returned to the West Coast to sit behind the boards for his own work, Breakthrough. One part dark and apocalyptic, mixed with one part ardent and inventive, topped with a huge mane of curly quivering hair and a Yosemite Sam moustache is the best way to describe it. Considering his crate-digging connoisseurship and general adoration for anything musically bizarre in his DJ sets, you can feel the ebb and flow in his production that spans from the world-beat bump of cuts like "Nissim" to the sinister urban concrete beats of "Dead Vets" and "Seven Years Of Bad Luck For Fun". Coming across like a horrific circus planted in the middle of a thrift store, Breakthrough is a patchwork of musical ideas stitched together in Williams' mind as he crossed the globe. The story may be a little bewildering, but I doubt he would have it any other way. If you don't believe me, turn off all the lights, put on the headphones and go to the very last track...you will truly be left "In The Dark".
Now grab your Library card, put these CDs on hold, and keep your eyes on our catalog, as well as all the blogs on this site for new and exciting releases coming in the year 2013. Let the Library into your speakers as well as your bookcase!!
The Central Library will close early at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 10 to prepare for the Booklovers Ball. More...