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DJ Krush 

Stepping Stones (Sony Japan)

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Japanese beatmaker DJ Krush has always had a Zen-master type of feel to his mood-shifting material, which can abruptly veer from hard-edged big beats to softly melodic ambient stuff. On Stepping Stones, he remixes 25 of his favorite tracks from the past (plus one new song, "Mosa"). The two-disc collection is divided into two parts: The first disc, subtitled "Lyricism," pairs Krush with such noted American verbal expressionists as CL Smooth, Company Flow, Black Thought, Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock, Anticon, and Mos Def (who earns ninja status by rapping in Japanese on "Shinjiro"); in addition to the cross-cultural hip-hop joints, there are also tracks with singers Esthero ("Final Home") and Zap Mama ("Danger of Love"), and some dope native-tongue rapping by Twigy & Rino on "Kiro." The second disc, "Soundscapes," is for the truly adventurous listener. Its experimental voyages into the aural realms (featuring guests like DJ Shadow and ?uestlove) blend futurist technology with traditional and organic elements. Aficionados of way out-there dub music, IDM, and broken beat will likely note some similarities in Krush's abstract style, which has made him one of the true masters of trip hop, or whatever they're calling it these days. — Eric K. Arnold

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