Rating: 4 out of 5 Potholes
For all the ills that technology can cause in music (see: Auto-tune), there is no denying its positive impacts. It helps music progress, and stay fresh and relevant. U.K. producer and DJ, Kidkanevil, understands this and embraces technology. His electronic-driven brand of hip-hop is not only some of the most forward-thinking, but some of the most exciting. On his latest instrumental album, Basho Basho, Kidkanevil takes old ideas, repackages them, and represents them musically.
It’s no surprise that one of the greatest influences here has to do with Japan, seeing as how Kidkanevil will often go so far as to cite his hometown as Tokyorkshire, a clever play on words. Many of the tracks here play off glitchy videogame-like samples of the Nintendo-era, particularly on the album’s centerpiece, “Drunken Master” (an ode to karate). Then there are the sugar-sweet bells and whistles of J-Pop that are thrown into the mix on various tracks. Kidkanevil is at his best when the beats never really materialize but rather simply exist in abstraction, which is the case on quite a few cuts.
Another idea that Kidkanevil experiments with is ambient music. Stealing from Brian Eno circa Music For Airports, Kidkanevil interprets his own brand of ambient music, with some tracks riding breezily over clicks and minimalist beats, and others maintaining rhythm without an actual drum track. “Land of Plenty, Bokusha 2” is likely the best ambient piece here, allowing the listener to drift away in the music.
Despite its attempt to pull away from traditional hip-hop, listeners will surely find numerous connections. First there is the delightful sampling at work, a sure staple of hip-hop and electronic music. Check out the fine Slum Village sample on “Minjo”. Then there is the steady boom-bap that works its way into certain songs, only to disappear momentarily. Overall, Basho Basho has Kidkanevil taking the appropriate steps in his advancement of music, while remaining accessible and delightfully enjoyable.