DJ Krush has been putting out his dark, edgy beatscapes for quite a few years now, becoming revered amongst the jazz/electronica crowd as a “sound creator” rather than just a DJ or producer. His last album featured The Roots and some almost poppy female vocal numbers, and his beats are hard-hitting rather than artsy. If you think a Japanese take on an amalgam of DJ Shadow’s sound circa Endtroducing and 36 Chamber-RZA’s threatening rawness sounds tempting, you should definitely cop this.
The Japanese edge stems not from rap or singing (apart from the traditional chanting on “Slit Of Cloud”, also home to some great live sax), but rather from the use of instrumentation; album opener “Still Island” is one of several to feature some gorgeous bamboo flute, wafting over the looming beats and brooding atmospherics like mist over a midnight sea. “Storm Cloud” features some beautiful live piano, whilst “Univearth” augments Krush’s beats with some Todo drumming, and the 6-minute “Decks-athron” pits him against fellow deck technician Tatsuki for an eerie electro-tinged scratch’n'effects cut that pretty much demands toking up.
The only two tracks with MCing are held down by Def Jukies Mr Lif and Aesop Rock, with the still largely slept-on Lif in particular murdering the stalking pulse of “Nosferatu”: “I got ta hit Tokyo/with another dark and lonely flow/language barrier/like a carrier/aircraft, when I move my physical form/you’ll hear math/numbers crunch your bones well/struggle through your own hell/pray you weren’t alone/when your dome fell…” Aesop sounds right at home on “Kill Switch” spitting his righteous lyrical nightmare sprawl as Krush wraps the rhythms round his words and adds some dope scratching, though as usual he’s an acquired taste.
All in all, this would be a perfect soundtrack for either late-night smoking up or Ghost Dog-style assassination hits; not a hugely fun listen, perhaps, but a rewarding, haunting work of martial art. If “Jaku” means exceedingly dope, then he’s bang on – the wonderful artwork and rarity only making this more of a must-check for collectors.
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