Album Reviews

Kid Koala – Creatures Of The Late Afternoon

(Envision) UK release date: 14 April 2023

The turntablist’s latest is a foray into self-sampling

Kid Koala - Creatures Of The Late Afternoon The concept was certainly novel: turntablist and plunderphonic jokester Kid Koala has decided to record and scratch his own playing for this latest record, a case of poacher turned gamekeeper. It is unfortunate, therefore, that Creatures Of The Late Afternoon is a mess, with most of its tracks either severely hampered by bad decisions or sounding like dime-a-dozen soundtrack material.

One of the biggest flaws of the record is the mixing, as the process of self-sampling seems to have rendered its stems way more distorted and washed out than the obscure records Kid Koala used to scratch. As such, The Frequencies sounds like its quick-time drumbeat is playing on crummy speakers while a racket is coming from the other room, and Things Are Gonna Change really makes us work to hear the unremarkable chanted lyrics (“Let, us, make it very clear / we, have, had it up to here / you’re, not, gonna hold us back / we, are, staying on track”).

The DJing skills are still there and the grooves hold together throughout, though there is rarely much of interest on top of them. For example Jump & Shuffle utilises the technique of scratching a record at various speeds to create a melody, which is technically very impressive, but where we once had Skanky Panky’s characterful licks we now have aimless noodling. Rise Of The Tardigrades rides a thunderous drum loop reminiscent of When The Levee Breaks, with sci-fi babble serving as a substitute for melody or nuanced pacing.

It should be said that there’s good music hidden in here, such as the bass-heavy arrangement and eerie atmosphere of Decades or Renaissance Of Reconnaissance’s bloopy ostinato. There are also precisely eight bars in The Cards’ mid-section where the drums hit just right, before they’re replaced with yet more poorly-mixed elements. These moments are so few and far between, however, that it’s hard to justify the album’s raison d’être.

Sampling is a great art form, its magpie-like approach to creativity all the more vital in an increasingly litigious landscape. If Kid Koala made Creatures Of The Late Afternoon because the old method is too much of a hassle these days then it’s a crying shame, but if he genuinely thought this was at the level of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Some Of My Best Friends Are DJs, that would be just baffling.

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