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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
DJ Krush
Stepping Stones: The Self Remixed Best

Rating: 9/10 ?

November 13, 2006
A decade into the career of a renowned musician is generally considered a key opportunity to release a Best Hits album, and why not? It is a great way to bring in revenue and expand an artist's fan base, and the process is usually undertaken by a money hungry record label with little or no input from the artist. Best Hits packages can also be a gamble, however, and without new content a blatant cash grab can sometime disenfranchise an otherwise loyal fan base. For Japanese soundscape legend DJ Krush, it wasn't enough to celebrate a decade in the business by blindly cutting and pasting popular tracks into one release. Instead, true to form, Krush took it one step further and released Stepping Stones: The Self Remixed Best, a fresh release comprised of subtle remixed tracks from his previous seven albums. Krush strikes the ultimate balance by showcasing his greatest works while giving his fans new sounds with special twists.

Krush has been well regarded among MC's for over a decade. His instrumentalism seems to be a universal language that cuts through cultural boundaries; many lyricists such as Black Thought (The Roots), Mos Def, and Mr Lif have traveled overseas to collaborate with him and communicate with his personal translator.

In an attempt to not let lyrics overshadow his production skills, Krush cleverly separates his rap collaborations and instrumentals by breaking Stepping Stones down into two discs: Lyricism and Soundscapes. People unfamiliar with Krush will be initiated by the rappers showcased on Lyricism and then fully baptized by his brilliant piano, drum beats, and turntables on Soundscapes. Many will see why so many rappers love working with him. The release of Stepping Stones is a huge step to reach new American audiences as a majority of the lyrical tracks feature collaborations with American MC's. Even instrumental collaborations with DJ Shadow and ?uestlove (The Roots) are remixed.

While Stepping Stones is clearly focused as an introduction of DJ Krush to an international audience, the already converted will be equally pleased by his attention to detail with the remixes. Despite the choppy rhythms for most rap collaborations, many will enjoy breaking down the comparisons between the originals and mixes. "Only the Strong Survive" by a CL Smooth is stripped down and refurbished with a brand new beat. On the instrumental side, the classic track "Kemuri" features very subtle changes with an amazing scratch/drum sequence that does not take away the brilliance of the melody. As an added benefit, Krush adds a couple of new tracks featuring the Method Man-sounding Japanese rapper Kan in "Mosa." The trumpet heavy club beat is accompanied with its softer underground version, "Mosa (Remix)." One of the most interesting instrumental comes from his new track "Drum" where a rhythmic drum beat evolves into chaos inflicting a lot of damage on the drum machine.

With this release anyone who can appreciate DJ Shadow and other trip hop soundscapers will easily see why Krush is one the best studio instrumentalists in the world. Stepping Stones is rare because it can effectively reach so many audiences with different styles and not alienate anyone along the way.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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