In 2001, a previously unknown artist emerged out of the ferment of the Tokyo electronica scene, taking listeners by surprise with a fresh vision for experimental hip-hop. Immediately of notice amid Japan's legions of aspiring turntablists was DJ Klock, collaborating with Japanese abstract hip-hop legend DJ Krush on the 12-inch for Nike, "DJ Krush feat. DJ Klock / 2001 Cage Odyssey." The project announced the arrival of a new producer schooled in the art of Krush's brain-twisting beats, but possessing his own distinct sense of composition and sound. Now, five years later, at the tail-end of 2006, the ever ahead-of-the-curve Ropeadope gives America its first full-length taste of the Japanese avant turntable visionary with the release of San.
Tokyo native Ryo Kato first discovered music as a child through the Beatles. He credits music with bridging the gap between the often-harsh realities of everyday life and his childhood ideals. Kato's recording career as DJ Klock dates back to his 2000 self-titled EP, DJ Klock, released simultaneously with the launch of his independent label, Clockwise Recordings. While pressing tracks for a slew of labels, Klock also gained notoriety for Klock's Mix Cafe mix-tape and the 12-inch, "One of the Sixteen Pads Is Dead." Over the next few years, he'd be as prolific as any DJ on the Japanese electronica and hip-hop scene dropping a slew of ground breaking EPs, 12-inches and mix tapes, as well as collaborating with a number of artists on projects such as Cacoy, Whakhakha and Turnrabrush. Acclaimed Japanese producer Fumiya Tanaka said at the time, "I didn't go anywhere without Klock's records in my record bag." The complexity of such projects were quite literally ahead of their time because they did more than just fuse hip-hop and electronica, but created sonic paintings that took a step into the unknown.
It wasn't long before Klock had played some of the country's leading events, including the Fuji Rock Festival and the Metamorphose outdoor electronica party. Bjork, Jurassic 5, Jeff Mills, Medeski, Martin & Wood, the Sun Ra Arkestra and Ryuichi Sakamoto are just a few of the established stars with whom he's shared the stage. And with a steady stream of club dates, his turntable skills always stay razor sharp. A DJ Klock set is like few others. He combines an aggressive DJ battle style with an unhinged creativity. His fat, gelatinous beats communicate a love of music that leaves few feet unmoved and yet simultaneously ignites the brain's synapses.
On San, his first widely distributed and promoted project in the U.S., Klock creates vignettes of sound ranging from looped snare drum patterns to digital squiggles and squeaks. Unexpectedly, fairy-tale melodies played on trumpet, xylophones and toy guitars can arise out of minimalist beats. Strange voices float alongside skeletal rhythms like previously unheard reverberations from deep within the mind's imagination.
With Ropedope assuring that his music will be heard far and wide in the United States, it's only a matter of time until DJ Klock's avant-turntable masterpiece San will be discovered and devoured Stateside by the headiest of music heads looking for the most progressive sound tapestries found anywhere in the world. Japan's DJ Klock sets his own watch and defines the time.