Between Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising and boycotts against the Dixie Chicks, it’s easy to overlook the fact people outside of the U.S. have opinions on 9/11 and the War on Terrorism.
Cause we don’t clean up our own shit
And when refused we throw a fit
As we scream “I don-wanna-hear-it” “I don-wanna-hear-it”
You won’t find that couplet on a Toby Keith single, nor even a Sleater-Kinney song.
The author of the lyric is Angelina Esparza, a Los Angeles-based, half-Japanese, half-Latina singer, and she delivers those words on Shinsou ~The Message at the Depth~, an album written and recorded by Japanese artist DJ Krush.
Despite working with some of hip-hop’s finest talents, Krush usually expresses himself wordlessly, allowing his timbres and textures to do the speaking.
On 2001’s Zen, Krush’s music was contemplatitive, soothing without being sentimental, minimal without being repetitve.
Shinsou, by contrast, is agitated.
From the start, “Trihedron”‘s stuttering beats and gravel-rough effects show the events since September 2001 have unsettled Krush.
And it doesn’t let up. On “Toki no Tabiji”, Japanese rapper INDEN raps frantically over synthetic effects and beats reminiscent of dropping bombs.
“Sanity Requiem” is an ironic title — the track feels neither “sane”, nor restful. In other words, the world’s done gone crazy. Similarly, “The Blackhole” layers dischordant harmonies and blurry effects over nervous rhythms. That title isn’t ironic.
While Steve Earle crunched a lot of people’s underwear singing in the perspective of John Walker Lindh, Anticon offers up “Song for John Walker”, which takes a more scattered aim against American suburbia in general.
But the most sobering perspective on the album is that of Esparza. Replicating ACO’s earlier role as Krush’s sweet-voiced foil, Esparza delivers the most bitter words of the album on “Aletheuo (truthspeaking)”, a video of which is included on the CD.
“The institution you attend/And all the clones that you befriend/Just seem to finalize your end.”
Shinsou does end on cautiously optimistic note with the deeply reggae “What About Tomorrow”. Abijah implores “No more bombing No more shooting Let the children be”.
Krush’s collaborators on Shinsou may not attract the kind of literary criticism lorded on the likes of Springsteen or Earle, but in reality, they’re not incredibly central to Krush’s mode of expression.
In the end, it’s the music that speaks volumes for the DJ, and given its aggressive and unsettling tone, Shinshou says more than enough.