DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis) grew up playing with audio equipment. You know, the stuff a
lot of us played with, turntables, integrated units combining a turntable with a tuner
and perhaps a cassette deck. Only Mr. Davis really
got into it.
Well, it paid off, because for good or ill, you have to be able to understand your
equipment on a very intimate level to create the kind of sampler-based music that
DJ Shadow creates. And what kind is it? It's impossible to really describe, like
most good music. But it does everything good music does, it is full of passion, mystery
and psychic fulfillment.
And what kinds of music does Shadow create? The critical press calls it "trip-hop",
a moniker invented to describe the Bristol sound of Tricky et al. And I agree with them,
this is nominally hip-hop with a psychedelic edge. However, DJ Shadow insists that
he makes hip-hop. Call it what you will, just don't call it lame.
This record post-dates DJ Shadow's incredible debut, Endtroducing
. It contains
several cuts culled from EPs released before it, as well as some new and reworked
tracks. Everything on this record is good, and much of it is incredible.
Even if you think you've never heard DJ Shadow, if you watch any of the music award
shows on American television, you probably have. Even though this kind of record
will never sell enough to get any TV award, the producers use it for filler music
extensively. They know something exciting when they hear it.
Samplers, which like synths are easily abused, can do great things in the hands of
an artist. DJ Shadow is one of the few who have tapped the instrument's potential
and raised the bar for everyone else.