K.I.A. & Shinjuku Zulu – DXLR8 – Downtempo ‘Best Of’ K.I.A. & Shinjuku Zulu

K.I.A. & Shinjuku Zulu
DXLR8 – Downtempo ‘Best Of’ K.I.A. & Shinjuku Zulu

Kirby Ian Anderson is K.I.A. and Shinjuku Zulu. Following in the footsteps of other deceptive artists like MF Doom and past few years’ sensation, Burial, Anderson enjoys making music under both of these aliases. The music is highlighted by Anderson’s implementation of various genres — everything from reggae, dubstep, hip-hop, ambient, pop, soul, to plain ol’ electronica — and the way he keenly pieces them together. His compilation, DXLR8 – Downtempo ‘Best Of’ K.I.A. & Shinjuku Zulu, compiles some of the greater songs off of his four studio albums and it serves as an adequate compliment while we await his next LP.

“Broken” is a frayed and scattered song that portrays a let down soul. This is dubstep at its finest and would sound right at home on either of Burial’s albums. The vocals are soul-saturated and the percussion brings out one of the better rhythms on the entire compilation. “Dubmarine” is a chiming ambient piece that also possesses a foot-tapping beat. The reggae-soaked vocals are a nice touch.

As with most compilations, the album suffers from a lack of cohesion and personality. It’s the same guy making all of the music but it sounds rather scatterbrained. Songs like the female-led, Aphex Twin-influenced “Rainbbowbeau” are lost in the merge because of the way they were unevenly sequenced on the album. Sure, the next song, “Yedayed,” is a bouncy, catchy song but the poor transition deters its catchiness.

Anderson has even gone on to make up his own new genres, as if we really need more! The lonely, empty, “Sweetness Likes the Reverb” is tagged as “acapellatronica” and although it seems confusing, when you hear it, it makes sense. “Scarborough Fair (A True Dub of Mine)” is a loopy, repetitive song that lifts the melody from the traditional song. It features Gregorian-like chants and ethereal vocals that discreetly paint the song’s canvas with splashes of otherworldly-ness and deception; all the while as the bass drives home the melody. “Mrs Major Tom” is seemingly out of place because it is a companion piece to a song not found on here. The female vocals tell the story of Major Tom’s wife while soft undertones of piano and synths gently sweep through the song.

All in all, this an effective approach. Collecting the best songs off an artist’s albums is a tactic that many labels are starting to undertake. Whether or not Anderson gave his full consent on this is a subject for another day but the end results are pleasant enough. Whether it’s K.I.A. or Zulu that release an album next, I hope it is filled with great songs all throughout.