Published by METRO
I remember when it was playing at a West End flat-warming party, but also how I used to stick it on at home whenever I needed to focus on some work. It was the perfect soundtrack to stomping around the damp Glasgow streets in your headphones, while it too seemed to be a popular fixture inside the city’s cafés during summer.
Fans of DJ Shadow’s debut album will know what I’m talking about. Inventively crafted using only audio samples, Endtroducing… achieved a broad spectrum of rhythm to which many of life’s routines could be set. Its multi-layered fusion of hip-hop, jazz, funk and psychedelic music with extracts from television shows, films and interviews was strikingly – if somehow paradoxically – original, and catapulted turntablism far into another dimension.
The record was hailed as ingenious. A masterpiece. A magnum opus. Shadow’s creation of something utterly new, exclusively from other people’s work, changed the mainstream view of sampling forever… and I could go on.
OK, I’m a huge fan of this album. But however successful it was and great it remains, I have to admit that it’s 15 years old. And it’s no longer its creator’s only child.
After Endtroducing…, DJ Shadow released a compilation of his early singles, produced UNKLE’s Psyence Fiction and provided the score for the documentary Dark Days.
It wasn’t until 2002, six years after its predecessor, that Shadow’s second LP hit the shops. Even when inevitably compared with the first, The Private Press stood its ground, and attracted positive – albeit not glorifying – reviews.
However, his third offering was met with a mixed reception. Entitled The Outsider, the 2006 release gave a platform to Hyphy music – a popular form of rap music originating from San Francisco. Having created a universally-acclaimed debut and a more-than-capable follow-up, it appeared that the California-based artist was struggling to convince his admirers of this departure in style.
It nevertheless extended his fan base and added to the intrigue surrounding his fourth studio recording – distributed in October this year. The Less You Know, The Better – featuring the double A-side single Def Surrounds Us/I’ve Been Trying – has been described as a return to form, in which Latin rhythms, piano melodies and folk music are absorbed into Shadow’s winning brand of instrumental hip-hop.
Now on another extensive world tour, this guy’s legendary live shows reflect the energy he puts into his albums. Obscure samples, restless scratching, addictive loops and mighty beats will undoubtedly send the O2 ABC crowd into spasms of clubbing excitement as he marries material old and new on stage.
Not always are the acts previewed here the indisputable best at what they do, I’ll be honest. But DJ Shadow truly is, and his musical talent must absolutely be seen and heard rather than read about.