October 27, 2004

DJ Krush "Jaku"

Jaku, the thirteenth album by reknowned Japanese electronica genius DJ Krush, is an amazing blend of beats, blissful ambience, traditional Japanese instrumentation and many other hypnotic sounds. The resulting mix is so contageous and narcotic, I seriously do not recommend you listening to this while operating heavy equipment. That sounds like record reviewer hyperbole, but it's not; Krush's trance-like rhythms can easily lull you into an enlightened, distracted state.

Instead of a pulsating, schizophrenic dance beat, DJ Krush has opted for a much more cinematic landscape, in the literal sense; almost all of Jaku feels theatrical, but it's never melodramatic. As a result, it's not uncommon for you to feel as if you know these songs already; you'll swear you've heard "Still Island" before, even if you don't know where. Jaku is an album of heady incidental music, but don't let that term put you off, because it's easily some of the darkest, foreboding incidental music you'll ever hear--the jazzy "Stormy Cloud," for instance, sounds like a dark alleyway on a stormy Wednesday night. If you feel uncomfortable, that only means DJ Krush has done his job right.

As is often the case with such music, it would be rather easy for Jaku to become monotonous, and Krush wisely breaks this tendency by using several guest vocalists, including Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock and Akira Sakata. While Sakata's contribution is traditional Japanese folk singing, both Mr. Lif and Aesop Rock add a hip-hop touch. Krush's choice of collaborators is inspired, and both songs--especially "Kill Switch"--are some of the better hip-hop tracks I've heard all year. Despite their quality, because of the general nature of the rest of the album, both songs are incongruous with the mood of the Jaku; the beat is amazing, the rhymes even more so, but for this record, they simply feel out of place.

That's a minor quibble, though; Jaku is still an excellent record, even with those songs. If you're looking for brooding mood music for a dark, stormy Sunday night, or you simply want to liven things up in the bedroom by creating a tense, near violent atmosphere, then DJ Krush will serve you well. Just be warned, though, if things get disturbing.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.djkrush.com
Label Website: http://www.sonymusic.com

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