Record Review - 2 October 21 2004

Tokyo-born/ based turntablist/ producer DJ Krush — whose name honors the Wildstyle/Krush Groove mid-'80s hip-hop that inspired him — began his career backing live bands and rappers, layering thick breaks with a blunted "trip-hop" swagger, suggesting the crosspollination of producers such as New York's DJ Premier and France's Cam. However, with his sixth album, 2001's Zen, Krush truly seemed to come into his own as a producer crossbreeding East Coast with Far East. Now Jaku, which roughly means "tranquility," further refines that approach.

Put the name aside, however, because Jaku is still fraught with delicious tension. Live shakuhachi flute, Kodo drums, turntable jabs and free jazz piano all punctuate his melancholic, melodic laments. Def Jux alums Mr. Lif and Aesop Rock contribute weighty verses to two tracks that are fueled by a slightly off-time rim shot, and hefty yet still spry dubby boom-bap. Jaku is a musical film noir done with samurai composure and yakuza flair, an elegantly ominous, cinematic multi-culti melange.

-- Tony Ware

DJ Krush plays Vinyl Sat., Oct. 23, 9 p.m. $15.