REVIEW: Kid Koala: Some Of My Best Friends Are DJs
Kid Koala: Some Of My Best Friends Are DJs [Ninja Tune, 2003] (samples)
Three words? ice cream cuts
I remember the first time I heard Kid Koala. A friend of mine who worked at the local campus radio station was giddily freaking out over a demo cassette that was a received at the station entitled "Scratchappyland." A kinetic, outrageous demo, it was something new and quite unclassifiable. Not flashy like a traditional scratch record, it focused more on composition than anything else, yet maintained a sense of fun. The tape soon became widely bootlegged and traded, hastening Ninja Tune to sign this young wunderkid.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Kid Koala's highly anticipated deubt, was a slight disappointment. Though technically proficient, it lacked the immediate glee of his demo. Kid Koala toured the globe, worked with the Gorillaz and Deltron 3030 (both equally disappointing projects), as well as opening shows for Radiohead. Earlier this year he released a 300-page comic book, Nufonia Must Fall, which featured an accompanying soundtrack, but hardly enough material for one to gauge what his next full length would hold.
Well, celebrate: Some Of My Best Friends Are DJs is a triumphant return. Combining the humour and fun of his demo while maintaing the Kid’s compositional skill, Some Of My Best Friends Are DJs is the record we’ve been wanting Kid Koala to make for years. And it’s been worth the wait.
"Basin Street Blues" and "Stompin’ At The Savoi" are clever homages to their jazz forbears. "Skanky Panky" samples an amazing horn line, creating a skronky, shambling number that conjures up Tom Waits’ band. "Flu Season" is the sound of "two sick DJs" who "meet and talk on the street." A cleverly laid-out track finds a series of sneezes, coughs and hacks trading off between some nice scratching. "Elevator Hopper" is a hilarious answer to anyone who ever thought of trying to pick someone up in an elevator. The album closes with "Vacation Island," a beautiful track spreading a mournful horn section over hawaiian guitars.
What makes Kid Koala so refreshing is that each of his songs tells a story. He is probably the only scatch DJ right now who is weaving narratives into his songs. Where other scratch DJ records become a blur of clever cuts, Kid Koala prefers to carefully construct his mixes, creating what are in essence, pop songs.
Though clever, intricately layered and flashing with brilliance, I have a feeling that again, this album will be scrutinized instead of enjoyed. And that’s a shame, because Some Of My Best Friends Are DJs - the Kid's sweet, fun and catchy sophomore effort - may just be the future of pop music.