In October I had the chance, the opportunity and the blessing to interview DJ Krush. There are few artists I revere more than the Japanese producer – a man that has made a soundtrack for my dreams as much as for my life. I can recall entire seasons that were defined by Strictly Turntablized and, much later, 2002’s The Message At The Depth – weeks and months and years populated by faces I no longer know or never did. But I still remember the songs.
What I can share from that interview is what you can read – there’s no backstory and nothing that was left out of the article. It was probably the only time of late that I gladly accepted the intervention of a PR team, due to language difficulties and the fact that I know just enough Japanese to offend him.
That’s usually enough – a feature and an interview is a lot to do for an album in a decidedly album-unfriendly era. But did anyone buy it? Someone in my position has no idea about those things, but I hope a few more people listened. The Butterfly Effect isn’t just DJ Krush’s first album in 11 years – it’s one of the most remarkable albums of 2015, and one I can’t get out of my head.
The music on Butterfly might have once been called trip hop, or acid jazz, or ambient or hip hop or some (other) awkward construction based upon all of these words. I’ve settled on “trip hop,” no matter if it sounds dated or overly broad. Krush’s music bleeds through the edges of any tidy or coherent classification – it’s uncontainable in the best sense of that word. Krush’s collaborations on this record, if anything, make this even more of a nightmare for a nerdy collector’s card catalog system – Free The Robots, Yasmine Hamdan and Divine Styler would make a strange line-up for the most eclectic festival stage but with DJ Krush they make wonderful music together.
It’s a blur at first, and only later can you fill in the details. The ambient trash of modern life in “Probability” floods through the speaker, funneled down to a single point. I picked Krush’s brain the best I could for the secret of how he makes his drums sound so big, so live and so lush. I had no more luck than any of the others. For the aspiring producer, take these sounds as artifacts preserved in under glass, as something preciously rare and exceptional for its time. You won’t hear to many others make music that sounds like this.
“Strange Light” – bass music with the bombastic cheese stripped out. Actually the whole record is like that – music with everything non-essential stripped out, cut away. What’s left is the vital core, a spinal column with a soul still attached. It’s contemplative but he was always contemplative. Fierce, focused and loud as hell – after two songs here, I was hooked.
You can listen to this in the background, alone, with friends, in the alley and in the basement and under the stars. It wraps around you like all of the manifestoes say that “intelligent” dance music made by more marketably handsome young techno drones say their music is supposed to do.
I felt at first that there were a few tracks on here that could be skipped without missing much. In time, one by one, they’ve come back to me and to leave any of them would be to leave the circle open. “My Light,” a haunted ballad with Yasmine Hamdan’s ethereal vocals, hit me at just the right point (in Ukrainian Village, midnight, after an argument that I knew was wrong) and now it’s the most essential one on the entire record, a distinction which will probably pass in time.
“I kept people waiting for years,” DJ Krush said, “so I wanted to show them something that they didn’t know.” I’ve mentioned the effect that his earlier albums have had on me. Does The Butterfly Effect belong with them?
I’m still talking about it. I’m still listening.
Available: MP3, Vinyl & CD from Amazon.
Vinyl: Vinyl Digital
CD: Vinyl Digi