DJ Krush, Zen

DJ Krush, Zen (2001)

On the surface, Zen, the eighth full-length offering from Japanese producer DJ Krush, is probably the least Zen-like album in his career. Nearly all of the tracks feature collaborators; only the lush opening track, “Song One,” fully dedicates itself to the poetically abstract vibes and basslines that are Krush’s trademark. Minutes later, “Zen Approach” breaks the spell as Black Thought from the Roots exults Krush’s sonic abilities: “Hot shit/The audience fiend for this fix/And Krush come with the guillotine for this mix.” Throughout his career, Krush has excelled when, whether solo (Strictly Turntablized) or surrounded by guests (Milight), he has stripped down his compositions to its bare essentials. Zen finds him tinkering with that formula and stretching the boundaries of his production for the first time in years, with some success. “Duck Chase” pits phonosycographDisk turntable drum patterns against Krush’s understated rhythm track, while the Roots drummer Questlove jams on “Endless Railway.” Other guests include Company Flow (“Vision of Art”), Zap Mama (“Danger of Love”), and N’Dea Davenport (“With Grace”). The collaborations never sound forced, since Krush silently imparts each with a moody, jazz-like sensibility characteristic of a Charles Mingus acolyte. Still, many might find Sunja Lee’s spoken-word piece “Paradise Bird Theory” somewhat pretentious, and Kukoo da Baga Bonez’s “Whut’z Da Solution” unnecessary. Red Ink.

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