Kid Koala: 12 Bit Blues

Kid Koala, 12 Bit BluesKid Koala: 12 Bit Blues
The blues is the building blocks of most of modern pop music. Everything from rock to pop to R&B and country all use the blues form. Turntablism has tended to be one of the modern forms of music not to use the blues form. Recently, Turntablism has become obsessed with the blues from C2C‘s groundbreaking single “Down the Road” to Kid Koala‘s new album, 12 Bit Blues. On the album, Koala–one of the cornerstones of turntablism–almost exclusively uses an E-mu SP-1200 sampler loaded with chopped up blues samples to create a record of virtuosic proportions.

For those that don’t know, an E-mu SP-1200 was state of the art technology in 1988. Albums like Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back were built on this machine but by modern standards the E-mu is a dinosaur. It can only hold 10 second samples. So instead of modern technology which can hold entire acapella tracks for today’s mashup artists, Kid Koala had to build 12 Bit Blues 10 seconds at a time.

Like a true blues record, 12 Bit Blues is mostly improvisation. The majority of the album was recorded live, so if Kid Koala stopped punching buttons on the E-mu, the music would stop. Then the tracks were overdubbed with Koala’s signature record scratching–the guitar solo of the turntablist. As with most Kid Koala records, the scratching is the real show. From the getgo with “1 Bit Blues (10,000 miles),” scratching is an intricate part of the record. The instrumental sounds like a fun night in a piano bar with Kid Koala scratching blues vocals over the top. “7 Bit Blues” follows a similar pattern with a strong instrumental back beat and plenty of scratching over the top.

Unfortunately, Koala can not keep up the momentum set up by these two tracks. Both “5 Bit Blues” and “6 Bit Blues” really slow the momentum of the record down. Kid Koala even went so far as to describe “6 Bit Blues” as “trying to do a Portishead blues.” Although the downtempo numbers do slow down the party, they do not derail it. 12 Bit Blues ends up being Kid Koala’s most engaging work since Some of My Best Friends Are DJ’s.
Rating: 7.2/10
MP3: Kid Koala “7 Bit Blues”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl