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Album Review

If you think all turntablists are alike, think again. Case in point: this off-the-wall collaboration between experimental turntablist Martin Tétreault and famous left-field DJ Kid Koala. Now, there is a long way between left-field and experimental — if the Kid's music is exciting and original in its own right, it sounds pretty "normal" compared to Tétreault's experiments in noise and abstraction (his longstanding duo with Otomo Yoshihide is his best-known project). On the invitation of the Victoriaville FIMAV festival, Tétreault and Koala worked on a duo set that would bridge their differences through what they had in common: a fondness for old self-help and demonstration records. Humor was thus on the agenda. They also decided to bring with them a hefty load of records by other artists on the festival's bill that year (2005, that is), so you can catch bits of Anthony Braxton's saxophone and Yamatsuka Eye's inhuman yelps in there, among other things. Most importantly, though, the two turntablists actually worked out their collaboration in advance, instead of simply having their "first meeting" on-stage. Transitional cuts and cues were determined to lead the way through a set of roughly sketched pieces. The live concert was a blast, funny and lighthearted. Phon-O-Victo, the CD documenting it, is a bit more demanding. Only 38 minutes of the performance ended up on the disc, and those are, for the most part, the more abstract parts of the set. Why? Because of licensing issues with the more commercial or more easily identifiable material. As a result, Phon-O-Victo will feel like an easier listen for Tétreault fans (this is the lightest album he has released since Des Pas et des Mois), but Koala fans will find it to be his most difficult release to date. Difficult, not bad. In fact, Koala displays an uncanny level of creativity here, and despite the missing encore based on "Moon River," this CD is packed with fun moments, from a self-educational bit about DJing (in "The DJ Factory Turn Crazy") to a marvelously inappropriate combination of blues singing and slowed-down moans ("Godzilla a les Blues"). Highly recommended. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: 1975 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Chinese-Canadian turntablist Kid Koala was born Eric San in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1975. Classically trained on the piano, San instead put his fingers to work on a pair of Technics 1200s starting in the late '80s. He was a college pub DJ and bedroom turntable manipulator for nearly a decade before landing a recording deal with U.K. experimental hip-hop duo Coldcut's Ninja Tune imprint in 1997. San's eclectic approach to sound collage is actually closer to the latter's far-flung beat experiments...
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Phon-O-Victo, Kid Koala
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