Kid Koala, 12 bit Blues

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 09.12.12 in Reviews
A blues album made entirely out of samples

It seems like a joke at first: A blues album made entirely out of samples – like a reverse-negative of Moby’s Play. But Kid Koala’s 12 bit Blues doesn’t simply lay crackled old vocals over new beats. Instead, the Montreal hip-hop DJ has constructed actual blues tracks (not songs; no one on Delmark or Alligator is going to cover them) via bits and pieces of what may or may not have been actual blues recordings to begin with. What’s more, they stick, with deliberately off-kilter rhythms that feel human (as Koala surely aims them to), cutting off a bar here or there to get the blood jumping, and the vocal snippets are often slowed down and mournful in a way that connects the dots between old-style Delta blues and equally down-in-the-mud “screwed” hip-hop. But the links are secondary to the simple joy Koala’s instrumental layers communicate, as when Stax horns collide gently with wailing harmonica halfway into “11 bit Blues,” or a combo of low-lying machine pulses and juke-joint harmonica stomp on “2 bit Blues.”