There’s something beautiful about the way old Delta Blues express and analyze sorrow.
Rather than hide or ignore deeply troubling experiences, these old relics provide a catharsis by exploring and understanding the spectrum of human suffering in a way that helps the spirit cope with trauma that cannot be overcome or even understood.
“Motherless Child” and Son House’s “Death Letter” are two songs in particular that have helped me reflect on heavy subjects like slavery, cultural stigmatization and the death of those closest to us. While many people in the modern world are uneasy discussing subjects like these, these songs as forms of human expression are so genuine that they pull you in and merge you with pains you can’t otherwise rationally comprehend.
Since this dark journey is in my view the most powerful part of the Delta Blues experience, I was actually quite relieved to hear Kid Koala’s 2-Bit Blues x 6-Bit Blues album stay true to reflecting that experience (unlike Moby’s dancier take). Sure there are a few more uptempo tracks on Koala’s album, but they still feel like an extension and recognition of that old tradition.
One of my favorite turntablists from childhood, Koala’s samples, beats and cuts all contribute to reconstruct the feeling of the Blues with newer musical techniques that still feel tangible and rich with personality. The music video for the 5-Bit Blues track also makes interesting use of old imaging technology like Polaroid photos and block prints synchronized to create a visual reflection of the song that unfolds in synchronization with the music’s progression.
You can hear most other songs from the album via this YouTube playlist: