Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Kid Koala

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome [Ninja Tune, 2000] B+
  • Some of My Best Friends Are DJs [Ninja Tune, 2003] B+
  • Your Mom's Favorite DJ [Ninja Tune, 2006] ***
  • 12 Bit Blues [Ninja Tune, 2012] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome [Ninja Tune, 2000]
Although Public Enemy and De La Soul saved Eric San from 10 years of piano lessons, by now he's about as hip hop as Christian Marclay, or at best the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Unlike Shadow, the only other DJ who's constructed a cut-and-scratch album of so much general interest, he has no groove to undercut--his grooves are ancillary to his jokes like everything else. Grant his complex little pieces the concentration they demand and you're sure to chuckle. Sometimes you may even marvel at how tenderly he mixes ingenuity and humility. But don't expect your ass to follow. B+

Some of My Best Friends Are DJs [Ninja Tune, 2003]
More postmodern comedy from the boulevard of broken beats. Bits include ska with a game leg, scratches with postnasal drip, translations from the marsupial, hi-fi jokes salvaged from hi-fi records, a robot doing the cha-cha-cha, and a drunk trumpet stumbling through the saddest and bravest "Basin Street Blues" ever to make you laugh out loud. B+

Your Mom's Favorite DJ [Ninja Tune, 2006]
Still the king of stand-up turntablism ("Left Side," "Right Side"). ***

12 Bit Blues [Ninja Tune, 2012]
The turntablist prankster has set himself up to fail here, which he may think is blues and I don't, just as he may think blues recordings should be rough stuff in the Alan Lomax mode whereas I think they're better served sonically by Leonard Chess. Anyway, nobody who knows blues as well as I do, which is medium well at best, is also going to know enough about turntablist technology to truly understand what it means to eschew sequencing software in cobbling together bits and pieces of a blues album on a classic and therefore long outmoded E-mu SP-1200 sampler. Too crude not just for Muddy Waters but for one of those also-rans the Revenant and Yazoo folk sneak into their secret histories, the songs Koala fabricates are songs in form only. Yet this isn't to deny their tunes or even hooks, nor to deny they're blues. After more time than anyone from either camp will be inclined to give it, the album takes on a compelling, sui generis sonic identity, at least for someone from the blues side. What the turntablist side might think I am unqualified to guess. A-