Artist: DJ Krush
Release Date: September 7, 2004
Guest MC's: Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock,
Guest Instrumentalists : Shuuzan Morita, Tetsuro Naito, DJ Tatsuki, Shin'ichi Kinoshita, Ken Shima, Akira Sakata
Diverging evolutionary strains of hip-hop still lead to some masterpieces, floating brilliantly among the drab flotsam that makes up mainstream music. A new invention courtesy of DJ Krush has washed up on shore, ready to be picked up and inspected by the masses. Jaku is possibly Krush's most polished work, although as with most very talented producers each of his previous works still deserves some degree of attention. The indication is that he feels like each album is designed to serve a different purpose – with Jaku, this purpose comes through like the last ray of sunlight being consumed by a bank of thunderclouds. His beats portend a callback to his earlier Kakusei, with fairly simple, straightforward trip-hop patterns. However, this underpinning takes the back seat to melodic flutes and some terrific guest appearances by Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, and an array of other talented musicians that round out this CD very well.
These songs convey a sense of Krush's muted understanding, an impetus on the balance of melody and rhythm that makes for a smooth ride over the edge of boring normality. What really separates him from the rest of the DJ's that are on the scene today is the serenity and intelligence that comes across in his music.
There is also a great melding together of eastern cultural tones and the use of oriental scales in the flute parts that, combined with the western hip-hop influence make for a killer concoction. His unassuming approach seems to allow him to integrate very simple songwriting concepts with very intricate instrumentation in a way that no one else can achieve. The clarity of the tracks also indicates that there was a great deal of time spent on them, which is much different from many of the tracks underlying the grossly commercialized hip-hop and rap stars that seem to get all of the attention. How many times do you think Nelly actually listened to the track he was rapping over by itself? Probably never.
Back on Track
The collaborative efforts that DJ Krush has managed to put together on most of his albums are truly amazing when considered all together. The variety of influences that he allows into the hallowed ground of his inner self being put in the spotlight through his albums brings a truly unique flavor that makes you feel like you're eavesdropping on some secret conversation. Such talent as appears on Jaku in particular makes this a very personal experience. Unfortunately for many musicians, their songs are open for interpretation in a degrading sort of way; Krush's soundscape allows the listener to choose their interpretation in a way that does not make them wonder if that is what he really meant, it just fits.
- Still Island with Shuuzan Morita
Laid back, flute intro.
- Road to Nowhere
I love the string bass and the bells... The integration of string parts adds a depth to the tracks that melds so well with the background noises. His ability to build on a simple rhythm makes it easy to connect to the tracks, and keep you hooked in and really pay attention.
- Nosferatu with Mr. Lif
Krush's true talent seems to be producing MC's and bringing out the best in them. One gripe with this track, I think Mr. Lif takes himself a little bit too seriously at times.
- The Beginning
The buildup of tension here is fantastic, especially after the relatively smooth preceding tracks. This is such a rock-out track, and still he manages to bring in the Japanese flute part with no change in the pace.
Ohh, that succulent breakbeat... Krush's production on this track is very reminiscent of mu-ziq's Royal Astronomy. Collages like this one are the shining moments of the genre, where an artist can take classical underpinnings and string parts and integrate them seamlessly with digital studio technology. Short but sweet.
- Stormy Cloud with Ken Shima
Soprano sax and piano -- The intricate melodies and harmonies found here are just fantastic. The feeling here is that the plateau has been reached, although the piano part does a great job of keeping the tension level somewhat high. I found the background rhodes piano-type part added a lot to this track in the beginning. The spatial area filled by this keyboard part gives the piano in the rest of the track excellent clarity.
- Univearth with Tetsuro Naito
The background percussion along with the flute parts here provide a detailed environment for your mind to fill in the picture. This is a very rich rhythmic track – even the flute part has an organic rhythm that fits in very well. The bouncing effect that is present in the flute right along with the strict drum parts is very interesting, and serves perfectly for the juxtaposition with the organic sections of the percussion.
- Deck-athron with DJ Tatsuki
This colorful battle-type track fits in well at this point in the album. After the more scattered drum tracks of Univearth, this straight trip-hop shows Krush's versatility and keeps the story of the overall album going.
- Kill Switch with Aesop Rock
A good showing by Aesop Rock... not great though. The beats are fantastic, but I just can't relate to the lyrics that much. I gather the pain of the world is "greater than (my) papercuts", but really, I don't need to be told of the existence of the macrocosm so explicitly – give us some credit, right?
Here is another relaxing track. This is the sort of addition to the album that brings back memories of Kakusei's minimalist trip-hop, but it is easy to see how Krush has matured since then. Hearing things just makes me wonder why most MC's have some awful beats these days -- I can almost hear the rhymes over this track. Whatever is conveyed here, it slips underneath the face that is immediately apparent when listening. Even though it is a busy track, it conveys a sense of calm.
- Slit of Cloud with Akira Sakata
A decent track overall, with some great saxophone. I find the vocals to be somewhat irritating overall, maybe they will grow on me.
This is basically just a filler track, but it is very well -produced and interesting to the ear.
- Beyond Raging Waves with Shin'ichi Kinoshita
Orgasmic – that's the best way to describe this track. Krush provides the perfect scenery for a fantastic guitar ? melody. This is so crystal-clear it's perfect.
- Distant Voices
I don't really like the clapping. This is still okay as part of the overall effort, but not strong compared to the other tracks.
- Song 2
Song 2 provides a good ending to this story, and is especially nice if you have the CD on repeat, it fits very nicely back into the beginning of the CD. This is the true release to the tension buildup that is prevalent through many of the tracks. Krush does a great job of keeping the listener interested.