WAGON CHRIST/DJ KRUSH
Four years ago, before electronica became a marketing pigeonhole, Luke Vibert (aka Plug) released Throbbing Pouch under the name Wagon Christ. It's a thick slab of dazzling, funky sampledelia that was never given its proper due--and it still tops what most of the competition is doing, even today. Vibert has proved to be one of the genre's most versatile and clever practitioners, casually mixing up all sorts of styles with humor and panache. A lot of his recent stuff reveals his proclivity for kitsch (a la electronic smartniks like Mike Paradinas and Richard James), but Wagon Christ's newest album, Tally Ho! (Astralwerks), succeeds because the silliness only rarely sinks into cheesy shtick like the stupid quasi-porno ad "Juicy Luke Vibert." The record adeptly juggles down-tempo hip-hop, wiggy drum 'n' bass, squelchy synth lines, and samples ranging from out-of-place easy-listening strings to odd movie dialogue, creating a frenetic mishmash aimed as much at the head as the feet--but I doubt it'll age as well as Throbbing Pouch. The music of Tokyo's DJ Krush, on the other hand, ought to hold up over the years: it's too stripped-down to sound dated. His last two albums for Mo' Wax, Meiso and Milight, have paired him with a host of distinctive rappers (Mos Def, Guru, Black Thought, and Finsta Bundy among them), and Ki-Oku (Apollo), his duo album with free-jazz trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, reminds me of late-80s Miles Davis efforts like Amandla; Krush's best work, though, makes a virtue of no-bullshit minimalism. On the brand-new Japanese import Kakusei (Sony), for instance, he collaborates with a few other DJ-producer types, like Mista Sinista of the X-ecutioners and Shawn J. Period, to grind out some serious head-nodding music: lean, tough grooves, fractured keyboard riffs, snippets of Japanese folk instruments, and creeping bass. I'd hesitate to predict too much onstage excitement from either Wagon Christ or DJ Krush, but beats will be condensing on the walls. Saturday, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Wagon Christ photo by Phil Knott; DJ Krush photo by Nicci Keller.