Kid Loco Presents Jesus Life for Children Under 12 Inches
Trip-hop never quite caught on in the U.S., in large part because of its subtlety; the boom-bap of hardcore rap provides immediate gratification, while the sonics associated with its more psychedelic cousin take time to blow minds -- and the masses, apparently, don't like to wait. In France, however, the form has spawned mixologists such as DJ Cam and Kid Loco, who understand that sometimes faster isn't better.
On his first disc for Atlantic, the thirty-something Jean Yves Prieur, aka the Kid, doesn't rush things. The opening track, "Viaduct," by the Pastels, is an unhurried slab o' melody that Loco smooths out with relaxed synthetic whooshes and a backing track that supports the material instead of overwhelming it. Uriel's "You Who Are," which follows, is even more deliberate, dribbling chiming keyboard arpeggios over a sonic bed just made for lingering, and Polar's "Bipolar Dream" emerges as a moody seducer that belies the "Kid Loco Hip-Hop Mix" tag affixed to it. Rather than exploding out of the box, "Dream" slinks along under the power of soft-spoken female vocals and a rhythm that's more of a roll than a beat.
Rather than precluding pop, Prieur's style infuses it with an unexpected majesty: "A Little Soul," in which Pulp's Jarvis Cocker mopes about his absent wife, could have been a typical genre piece, but it attains a certain grandeur with Loco's hand on the knob. Better yet, his approach doesn't overwhelm the intriguing artists with whom he chooses to work. Tracks by Talvin Singh ("Traveller"), Badmarsh + Shri ("The Air I Breathe") and Mogwai ("Tracy") retain the characteristics associated with their creators, but they also blend seamlessly into the compellingly languid vibe of the platter as a whole. The only misstep is Cornu's "Youpi," which punctures a lovely atmosphere with occasional shrieks that seem to have been piped in from another record. Cool out, missy; you're bringing me down.
Unfortunately, Jesus Life's abundant attributes won't turn it into an American hit, and neither will CD artwork dominated by nude shots of women apparently suspended in the zone between ennui and ecstasy (pleasant though they may be). But the disc remains a journey worth taking for folks who enjoy climaxes more when they take a while to happen. -- Michael Roberts