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Kid Koala 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Wednesday, Mar 22 2000
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Kid Koala
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
(Ninja Tune)

Coldcut titled the publishing company for its Ninja Tune label Just Isn't Music. Thankfully, this just isn't music, either. We can go even further and say also that this just isn't DJ music -- at least not DJ music as practiced by any other DJ in the known world. See, scratch DJs are supposed to beat you silly with their virtuosity, push your face into their amazing cuts until you gasp, "Gosh, how does he do that?" The appreciation Kid Koala elicits isn't from extended soloing, but from a more subtle combination of carefully selected oddball vocal snippets (a stand-up comic sneers, "What is this? They come out, they don't even have any instruments, they got two record players, they go 'Kekakekakek'"), hokey instrumental records, and turntable stops and starts. There is plenty of scratching, but the sounds Kid Koala manipulates -- chicken clucks, people imitating instruments with their mouths -- transforms the act of back-and-forth rubbing into something totally different.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome walks the very thin line between pointless novelty and inspired collage assembly over its scant 30 minutes. It is to the rest of turntable-made albums what the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique was to hip hop when it was released -- cheeky, nonsensical, obscure, and yet really inviting. Listeners who demand a point to their music will find nothing worthwhile here, but what keeps things from unraveling into a cartoon soundtrack is Koala's skill as a director -- he leads you through the nether regions of previously recorded sound by pasting spoken passages together to create stories. It's easy to see how his talents spill over from his other pastime -- drawing comics. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is segmented into a series of frames, like the mini-comic book included with the CD about a DJ who is shrunken and captured in a box of Disco Flakes cereal. The individual pieces that make up both are absurd, but when woven together by Koala, an entertaining tale emerges.

About The Author

Darren Keast

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