Kid Koala – 12 Bit Blues (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
KID Koala – aka Eric San – remains one of those artists who consistently delights despite being off the radar for many people.
A world renowned DJ who lives in Montreal with his wife and daughter, he has been involved with collaborations with Gorillaz and The Slew, and toured with everyone from Radiohead, The Beastie Boys, Money Mark and John Medeski to A Tribe Called Quest and Jack Johnson.
Past classic albums on the Ninja Tune label have also included Your Mom’s Favourite DJ and Some of My Best Friends Are DJs, both of which serve as great party favourites.
For his latest, Kid Koala revels in his love of blues. Using his trusty SP1200, and over the course of three days, he cut up and re-assembled the bed tracks that would comprise 12 Bit Blues.
No sequencing software was used. Using the pads on the machine and a multi-track, Eric played each part of the tracks in real time, before finally returning and adding cuts over the top.
The ensuing album has the raw immediacy of a classic, even unearthed, blues album, albeit mixed occasionally with beats and the odd scratching that is something of a Koala trademark.
You may not even know the blues standards Eric has selected but they all sound lived in as only the best blues songs do. But they’re given a freshness and immediacy by his decision to inject the odd beat here and there, reviving them and giving them as much urgency, vitality and funkiness as some of The Heavy’s classic standards.
2 Bit Blues, for instance, includes some spliced sounds and a funky beat backdrop to compliment its gritty guitar sound and grizzled vocals, while 3 Bit Blues employs the odd bit of brass to augment the production values.
4 Bit Blues drops in a heavy-hitter of a beat over some really drooled vocals, while 7 Bit Blues includes some delicious beats and breaks to showcase Eric’s skills as a slick DJ.
Put together, it’s a masterful selection of the old and the new… classic blues tracks brought to fresh life by Kid Koala’s passion and DJ mastery.
What’s more, it’s an album that’s funky and contemporary enough to work even if you don’t like the blues. It puts you in a brilliant mood while listening.
Download picks: 2 Bit Blues, 3 Bit Blues, 4 Bit Blues, 7 Bit Blues, 8 Bit Blues