Look, we can blame things on the dog smoking my homework or the fact that I’ve been working on my professional eater’s physique, but regardless of the extenuating circumstances, there were a few things I wanted to rap with you cats about last year, but never got around to it, you dig? Clearly, those ‘70s slang lessons were dollars well spent, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring the following to your attention, you jive turkeys. — Chris Daly
1. Kid Koala, 12-Bit Blues,
The fact that this escaped my radar for as long as it did is somewhat of an embarrassment. Not only am I a huge fan of Some of My Best Friends are DJs, but I’m a huge fan of the blues. On 12-Bit Blues, with the aid of turntables and a simple sampler, KK didn’t rewrite the blues (as that clearly would be insane), but he got into its genetic make-up and did some fucked-up tinkering.
The result is a lot of simple loops along with chopped and screwed vocals that work on a much more visceral level than say, Moby’s “Play,” the only other album of which I’m aware that really got into that bluesy groove. “8-Bit Blues (Chicago to New York to La)” is the clear stand-out, and for my money, one of the best tracks of the past year. While I genuinely liked the album after the first listen, seeing KK tour the album on the “Vintage Vinyl Tour” in DC is what put this one into overdrive for me. Look, DJ sets can blow your mind or put you to sleep, depending on the showmanship. Koala does not disappoint on this front. From a paper plane battle with the audience and a full-fledged puppet show to giant robots and dancing girls. He bills it as “the silliest show on earth” and might be one of the finest too.
2. The Man with the Iron Fists
I did a write-up here prior to the movie actually being released and some of you might have wondered why we didn’t review the RZA’s directorial debut here at Passion. If you fall into this category, you probably didn’t see the movie yourself.
Not wanting to be “that guy,” however, I will point out this may not have been the return to kung-fu bad-assery that many of us had hoped for (well, I did, at least), it would be unfair not to point out that the Abbot does deserve at least an Oscar nomination in costumes for his use of wigs in this one. Weird side note: I attended the wedding of Daniel Wu, the guy who played Poison Dagger, as I went to high school with his beautiful bride, Lisa. That has absolutely no bearing on anything whatsoever; I just like to point out whenever possible that that’s how I roll (even though it really isn’t).
3. Weedy of 40 Winks -Retrospect Suite
My favorite beats slant towards laid-back and stoner, so it’s little wonder that an album by a guy named Weedy from a band called 40 Winks would resonate with me. Part crate-digging samples, part live instruments and field recording, Weedy puts together a late night jam session for the introspective. These aren’t head bangers, but they’re head nodding. “For Us” and “Warmuils” provide a potent one-two punch early on that sets the stage for the rest of this after hours party. Looking for those chilled out grooves to spin at your next adult get together? Look no further. Also, note to self, suggest the name “Weedy” to the Missus for our next child.
4. Blocktreat – Traditionals
Yes, I already wrote a full review on this one, and you’re more than capable of going back and reading it yourself. Seriously, though, check this out. As far as I’m concerned, this is what making beats is all about: taking found sounds and sculpting them into something completely different. Don’t be thrown off by the fact that Blocktreat repurposes field recording of bluegrass. Granted, these are not car rattling thumpers, but they’re more compelling than most of the think pieces I read in 2012.
5. Kidsuke by Kidkanevil & Daisuke Tanabe
I clearly have something for artists who go by “Kid.” Full disclosure, I also loved the Purple Rain movie, but I feel like I’m getting off track here. I’ve been a fan of Kidkanevil since “freebeatsnbleeps,” and Daisuke’s additions to a variety of Project: Mooncircle projects (“The Moon Comes Closer.” The Finest Ego | Faces 12” series.” Bueller? Bueller?) speak for themselves. Throw ‘em in a blender and you’ve got two great tastes that taste great together. Built around the premise of a child’s fascination with the world around him as seen through the lens of kids raised on Nintendo and Play Station, this nostalgic jaunt is an aural journey sound tracked by video games. Two out of two Italian plumber twins agree this one is worth the listen.