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Meiso: To Wander Or To Stray When You Are Not Sure Of The Path

The smooth blend of voice and vinyl is augmented by Krush's acknowledgement of his lack of English skills during the time of Krush and Meiso. What you hear in the interplay between voice and instrumentation in "Only the Strong Survive"--the opening cut of Meiso--is achieved through the music, much like the interaction between instruments in an improvisational jazz combo. Meiso turns away from the torch singer/R & B flavor which Krush evoked with Krush, blending his dark jazz rhythms with the strong pulse of hip hop rap. The DJ-friendly interludes are still a mainstay, blending Krush's beats with all manner of noises and melodies, drawing us again into his underground realm.

Meiso is more of an introspective album. Questions like "What's Behind Darkness?" are posited with slow after-hours rhythm, coaxing consideration of the query as you nod and turn to the beat. While Krush (for the most part) evoked a nightclub atmosphere, Meiso has gone outdoors, wandering the nearly vacant city streets, looking for answers.

[ meiso ]

Most of the instrumental tracks on this album reflect the nature of the title: "Anticipation," "Bypath 1," "Blank," "Bypath--Would You Take It?" Krush is still experimenting, trying to find that perfect match between voice, scratch, and beat. His course can be attributed to a meiso state, working both vocal and instrumental in tandem to find if each can support the presence of the other. And while the vocal tracks provide a more fixed point for the listener to attach to, the DJ tracks continue to unlimber themselves in reckless harmony, spilling and pooling out of your speakers.

I can't go by without mentioning "Duality." Krush and DJ Shadow set out to answer the question: what if the vocalist didn't show? Would you still lay down the track? The answer is "yes" and the two men make their turntables do the work of the human throat. In an interview with the UK magazine, Fly, Krush stated that he wanted to see if he could deliver an image by sound and that Meiso, and "Duality" especially, were an attempt to deliver on that promise.

He does.

[ minsert1 ]

The Next Drawer

In that same interview, Krush says the first three albums were the ideas in the first drawer in his head. With Milight he's beginning to spin out the next set of ideas from the second drawer, reflecting on where he's been and what he's learned and putting all that experience to use. The result is Milight in 1997, a much more optimistic album than his prior three. The beats are as thick and heavy as before, but there is a lightness to the melodies, an airiness that speaks of open windows and sunshine.

He opens with "Shin-Sekai," the rap laid down in Japanese by Rino, giving us a historical taste of the days of the Krush Posse when Krush worked the tables behind the rest of the band. The track is a taste of Krush's fluidity. He isn't shackled to any single cultural influence. He's letting us know that the music--his music--is global. And, in the global arena, there is much to celebrate. Mixed between the tracks are short soundbites from his collaborators--snippets of conversation which seem to elaborate on the rich content of the music.

[ milight1 ]

His arc across the world touches down in France for a whirling, bleeping track with DJ Cam; back across the continent to Japan for a sweeping atmospheric track with Kemuir Production; a short stop to remake a John Lennon song ("Mind Games") into a languid near trip-hop song before landing squarely at the offices of Mo Wax to enlist Deborah Anderson for his final track: "Skin Against Skin."

Milight shows Krush pushing past the ground-breaking work he did with his first albums. Language is not just limited to the sound and structure of English and Krush seeks to further his art by bringing in other languages, other sounds to his mix. Rap and song become another layer of his music, losing their individual characteristic in an effort to make a more perfect union.

[ milight2 ]

The question then: where to go next? Krush goes forward by reaching back. He links up with trumpet player Toshinori Kondo and does a full-blown collaborative album. His beats and scratches. Kondo's trumpet. It is, in my mind, Krush's best album.

I have a weakness for trumpet players. I'll admit it. Molvaer's Khmer album still stuns me every time I hear it. I'm fascinated by the idea of Ben Neill's mutantrumpet. Miles, of course. What needs to be said about Miles? Add Toshinori Kondo to this list. Krush gets a partner who can more than hold up his end to Krush's beats. Ki-Oku isn't anything new by Krush standards, but, at the same time, it's totally unique. Sadly unavailable domestically, it is an album that you should call in a few chips with European friends and get them to send you a copy. It is a sublime pairing which extends Krush's inventive flair for mixing old and new to make something globally transformative.

[ ki-oku ]

The bar is high now. Where to go next? Where will the meiso take you? After you've just turned out a disc that tightly melds tight turntable skills with enveloping beats and the soaring vocalization of a trumpet, where does the exploratory spirit take you?

Back to the live show. Taking these beats and putting them in front of a live audience. Burning up the wax and turning a loose crowd into a thundering, pulsating room. Kakusei is almost a return to the beginning for Krush, a fully instrumental album that harkens back to the thick DJ days of Strictly Turntablized. It's almost an exercise in minimalism, a reduction of the layered edifice built before to a simple foundation. But the foundation has echoes, vibrations of horn and sax and piano that remind us of where Krush has stepped before. The layer to be added is us--his audience. His beats, his scratches, need our participation now to make them a living, breathing entity. DJ Krush is still looking to the future, still pushing at the edges of the genres, finding bits which break off and can slip into his mix, finding new pathways to wander down, finding new ways to make music which can connect a global audience.

[ kakusei ]

DJ Krush Discography:
Strictly Turntablized (1994) Mo Wax, UK / Sony Japan, Japan
Krush (1995) Shadow Records, US
Meiso (1995) Mo Wax/Sony Japan
Milight (1997) Mo Wax/Sony Japan
Ki - Oku with Toshinori Kondo (1998) Apollo/R & S, Belgium
Kakusei (1998) Sony Japan

DJ Krush Official Homepage
DJ Krush (fan page)
DJ Krush (the inofficial homepage)

[ dj krush ]

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