Kid Koala – ‘Space Cadet’ Album / Book / Launch Night (LDN 13.9)

Pretty much everything Kid Koala has ever done has been on some form of next level ish. Going back to where he was making a name for himself as a turntablist around Montreal, he featured on the incredible Bullfrog album, working with Mark Robertson on their much hyped club shows as well. Since then he’s simply removed himself from being an underground artist and seems to exist on his own personal plane of music and releasing styles, and appropriately stepped in to soundscapes for movies, including Scott Pilgrim vs The World which although will never be as quality as the graphic novels, is still one of the greatest adaptions ever done. The guy’s a don.

For a lot of heads, the introduction to Kid Koala came when he opened for The Beastie Boys worldwide in 1998, I still remember him standing out as an opener that year. Backed up when he collaborated on the Deltron 3030 project he worked on with Dan The Automator and Del The Funky Homosapien, he was soon blowing up alongside DJ Shadow and DJ Food as the trip-hop & beats artist reached their 2000’s peak.

Even if you weren’t familiar with his studio work or the creativity he puts in to his nights and tours (including Draw Along To… and Bingo) Kid Koala was always one to see live, the best live show out of the scene. Starting off with four deck live mixing, the man’s vinyl manipulation was the first to proper bend tones as instruments of their own, rather than rely on scratching and juggling of well known tunes. I still believe that an outdoor festival where Kid Koala closes his set with a four deck rendition of Moonriver is perfection for a first snog.

Which brings us to Kid Koala’s romanticised side projects. As an accomplished illustrator as well as music maker he released his debut graphic novel in 2003, titled Nufonia Must Fall coming complete in a package with music designed to be listened to as you flipped through the love story of two robots. The release was great but that tours that spun off it were mindblowingly good.

A few albums in between, and he’s done another novel. Titled Space Cadet we’re back with the robots, and although slightly shorter it’s just as enjoyable. The big thing is the music though, which I’ve been rinsing across the last five days. Incredibly subtle composition, especially from someone who’s made a name messing about with wax.

Much like the Nufonia.. score, pianos and strings make up the basis of the work, with the trademark Koala pitch bends and repeats throughout. the instruments sound broken down in areas, like a mellotron put through the paces a few too many times. To use an old jazz cliche (that I never thought I’d catch myself dead using to be fair) it’s the notes included as much as the timing of the silences that adds to the humanity and eeriness of the album, that for the most part barely heads above a funeral march tempo.

I may have cheated and flipped through the book to get a vibe of the aesthetic before listening to the album in it’s entirety, but Kid Koala truly outdoes himself telling a story in both forms. Surprisingly, the music is able to actively evoke similar emotions with or without the pictures it soundtracks. The man put his soul in to his work, and it really comes through.

He’s launching the book next Tuesday at a rare intimate show at Material / Red Gallery in London on Tuesday 13 September. The night will run from 7pm-11pm, featuring a three hour set of “quiet time” records from Kid Koala, as well as a performance of live original compositions.

Quiet people are invited, and there will be tea, hot chocolate and cake available. Bring something to work on; drawings, knitting, sonnets, whatever floats your creative boat. Sketchbooks and pencils provided. No dancing.

The only entry fee is a £5 donation towards materials.

Video trailer below, with full press release on the forthcoming book / album under that.

via Ninjatune 

“He’s the guardian robot programmed to protect the sweetest astronaut on this (or any) planet. But when she blasts off on a solo mission of outer-space adventure, he is left to wonder… What now? A tomorrow-days lullaby about finding your place in the universe.”

“Space Cadet” is a 132-page graphic novel drawn entirely on etchboards. It is accompanied by a “still picture score” of music composed and recorded by Kid Koala.

This charming story of an adventurous space cadet and her guardian robot touches on the relationship between technology and isolation, and celebrates the idea of connectivity through family and the cycles that build generations. A tomorrow-days lullaby about finding your place in the universe, the use of etchboards have given Koala’s trademark pathos-drenched tales of love and loneliness a whole new depth and beauty.

The music, meanwhile, matches this mood. Built up from the Kid’s own piano playing, which sounds like a speakeasy pianist playing Satie when the punters have staggered home, Koala has added strings, horns, marimba and subtle use of his core instrument, the turntables. The results are scintillating, a suite of music that certainly reflects the moods and themes of the book, but which bear repeated listening in their own right.

To work out the accompanying live show and gallery exhibition, Koala took part in an artist residence at MASS MoCA (Massachussetts Museum Of Contemporary Art) in December 2010. The Space Cadet Headphone Concert and Gallery took shape, an immersive concept involve live visual-making, a pop-up planetarium and so much other stuff its perhaps best explained by heading to YouTube to watch the trailer!

All in all, “Space Cadet” shows a deepening of the themes and methods which have marked out Kid Koala as a musician and artist of rare quality, one for who technique is always used in the service of emotion. Oh, and one who likes robots, too….