By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
IF YOU THINK the stars at the forefront of the modern turntablism movement are, shall we say, a bit eccentric, well, rooming with several thousand slabs of obscure vinyl might knock you for an elliptical loop yourself. But Invisbl Skratch Piklz alumni like Mixmaster Mike and DJ Q-Bert have nothing on the goofiest virtuoso in the DJ biz, Kid Koala. Even more so than the Kid's scene-stealing spot last year with Handsome Boy Modeling School, the fader-yanking surrealism of Carpal Tunnel Syndromefinds genius in absurdity--and vice versa. "Music for Morning People" incorporates a sober warning on the dangers of drinking five dozen cups of coffee a day, which perfectly complements the frantic caffeinated scratching of what sounds like a snippet of Bill Cosby's "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" bit. And the two-part "Barhopper" mingles some pathetic singles-bar come-ons and their female targets' irritated responses ("B-vrt-b-vrt-b-vrt-beat it, j-vrt-jerk!") over a groove of languid lounge sleaze.
But not all of Koala's punch lines are gratuitous non sequiturs; there are plenty of self-deprecating cracks on the DJ's medium itself. One running gag features an interview with a Foley specialist who uses unorthodox techniques to get his sound effects. ("I'd also stick mud in people's heads...and then punch them.") The opening of "A Night at the Nufonia" transforms a comedian's derisive imitation of a hip-hop DJ's scratches into an actual scratch-fest.
These bizarre cuts, wacky sound effects, and various other bits of lunacy threaten to overshadow the nimble-fingered work on the 1-and-2. But moments like "Nufonia"--wherein Koala cuts so fast, he perfectly emulates a severely pissed-off squirrel--remind you (and none too subtly) just how skilled he is. And the music itself isn't just a rim shot to accentuate Koala's greatest gags. Instead of the moody orchestral percussion of DJ Shadow or the huge crates of old-school artifacts favored by the X-cutioners, Koala uses slabs of easy-listening rock, lite jazz, and Moog farts as weird-ass building blocks for some of the weirdest (and assiest) narratives beknownst to hip hop.
Yeah, Kid Koala's good with the mixing and the cutting and the turntable thingy with the needle and all the other (yawn) standard DJ tricks. But he's also an excellent producer, an adept storyteller, and the ultimate example of the class clown-cum-A/V geek made good.
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