September 2008

Kid Koala
at the Guelph Jazz Festival & Colloquium
September 4, 2008 Mitchell Hall, St. George's Anglican Church Guelph
Turning the Tables (and Pages) with Kid Koala
by Laila Boulos

Andrew Craig, of CBC Radio 2's Canada Live introduced Turntablist/Scratch Artist Kid Koala (Eric San) who began performing as a teenager and has performed with Radiohead and Björk. He was also the first North American artist to be signed to UK label Ninja Tune. This multi-faceted artist in every sense has illustrated the book "Nufonia must fall", for which he composed a piano soundtrack. For his CD, Some of my best friends are DJs, Kid Koala illustrated a 50-page comic book and included a chess set. The Short Attention Span Theatre tour, a road show with 3 DJs, 8 turntables, a slide show and a bingo game became his next mad scientist creation.

As Kid Koala arrived on stage, the audience moved wordlessly, en masse towards the stage like one large magnet attracted to another. As he explained the science behind his three-turntable laboratory the large screen magnified and projected his movements dramatically to the audience in black and white.

This projection continued for the entire evening and although it appeared that the screen version was speeding up his movements, surprisingly, it was reflected in actual time. In other words: his hands were really moving that fast — at the speed of light, er, sound! Hence the title of his debut album, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

As he continually switched the vinyl albums, shifting them back and forth, warping, elongating and basically playing with the sound, the room became more animated. Suddenly, as both the volume and bass were quickly raised the sound became more distorted which, unfortunately muddied up Kid Koala's expert play-doh manipulation of sound.

One of the more popular pieces of the evening, "Drunk Trumpet" which used samples from LL Cool J, brought forth shouts of approval from the audience. And as he later announced, "You can move if you want to", the hypnotized subjects of the Cult of Koala willingly began to dance in front of the stage while the remaining stragglers filled the aisles.

Later, the laid back turntablist raised his hands above his head and began clapping as the sounds of clapping reverberated through the audience competing with the music to fill the already dense air.

Kid Koala was constantly moving during the performance as he shifted his musical choices between Scottish Highland, Middle Eastern, and Nine Inch Nails inspired musical art as he dragged disks of vinyl under the needle. At times he would playfully fight with the movements of the records as he pulled the albums back and forth and at others he would turn off the electricity altogether to manually manipulate the sound.

The performance ended after 2 a.m. and Kid Koala, like the famous dancer in the classic movie Metropolis, left his audience spellbound as they unwillingly sauntered slowly out of Mitchell Hall.

This performance was being recorded by CBC Radio 2 for future broadcast on the program The Signal. Hosted by Laurie Brown and Pat Carrabre, The Signal can be heard every evening at 10 p.m.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Laila Boulos
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