Montreal-based Kid Koala (born Eric San) is not only a world-class DJ on eclectic British electronica label Ninja Tune and a member of jazz-jam-fusion band Bullfrog. He's also the author of a darkly cryptic graphic novel. Published earlier this year, Nufonia Must Fall is the story of the illicit love between a woman and a robot and includes a downtempo soundtrack for piano and turntables, accompanied by instructions on when to play which tracks. Some of My Best Friends Are DJs continues the Nufonia saga, as the characters dominate the album's artwork (including a 52-page comic book), a few songs, and a some- assembly-required portable chess set.
Some of My Best Friends Are DJs is Koala's second full-length album, but fans of 2000's Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are in for a surprise. Though this album is less cluttered and more musical, it's not just turntable dexterity and symphonies of samples and sound effects. The tunes bounce from genre to genre, though most of them fall in the ragtime, blues, and jazz categories. "Vacation Island" features an island melody played on ukulele and steel guitar to which Koala patiently adds the lush tones of each individual instrument in a string quartet. A piano version of Earth, Wind and Fire's "Spinning Wheel" plays prominently in "Elevator Hopper," but by far the most impressive track on the album is the opening "Basin Street Blues," a deconstruction and reinterpreted version of Spencer Davis' Dixieland 1928 funeral march. Koala created the song note by note, using samples from more than 100 records and ukulele and banjo lines played by a Bullfrog bandmate.
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At less than 35 minutes, this album is short by most standards, but the length is forgivable.