3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
What a Krush,
This review is from: Jaku (Audio CD)
Nobody does rap/electronica quite like DJ Krush -- downtempo, hip-hop, and exquisite beats. He's done amazing works with acid-jazz, beats, and complex rhythms. But this Japanese turntable pioneer has dropped all that in his eighth album, in favor of a more.... organic sound.
Instead, "Jaku" harkens back to Krush's roots -- that is, it mixes gentler, chiller beats with traditional Japanese music. It's an unlikely combination, but unsurprisingly Krush makes it work. The resulting music is cool, dark, clear and has that timeless vibe from the traditional instrumentation.
Elusive beats and soft shakuhachi flutes set the tone of the opener, "Still Island," followed by drums and bells and gritty hip-hop cameos by Mr. Lif and Aesop. The songs that follow vary wildly: Some are delicate, breezy and even ghostly, while others are beat-heavy and tripwire taut. "Decks-athron" is one of the few exceptions, with its futuristic beats and swippy effects.
By the last third of the album, the traditional instruments have gotten even more prominent, except for another brief foray into futurism. Shin'ichi Kinoshita and Akira Sakata add their vocals to nimble koto melodies. It ends with the pretty music-box melody "Song 2," which makes use of electrobeats in a more delicate way.
It's not the sort of music that Krush became famous for, and it might take a little while for his fans to adjust to this sound. But once they are used to it, it's impossible not to appreciate the innovative way that Krush melds trippy beats and hip-hop with flutes, piano, koto and chimes. It's a departure, but a very successful one.
The one flaw of the album is that Krush keeps his foot too firmly in old territory, and so the hip-hop sound is out of sync with the more ethereal songs like "The Beginning" or "Stormy Cloud," with those windy parts. But even the ethereal songs have a sort of dark edge to them, which keeps this from sounding like (gasp) new age music.
"Jaku" explores new (or old) territory for DJ Krush, and he doesn't disappoint. A bit of unevenness is all that mars this beautiful, dark, atmospheric album.