Monday, May 02, 2005

Classic Album: DJ Shadow – ...Entroducing

I first heard about DJ Shadow thru Radiohead; every interview I read during the OK Computer period, there was pretty much always a time when Thom or Jonny would start praising the work of the American DJ and how he inspired the band to approach sound. I thought that earning praise from Radiohead was a rather big acomplishment so I was intrigued by this DJ; this was also the time i started to get into electronica and various other artists and magazines would talk about the “genius” of the guy. So it wasn’t long after i went in search of some Shadow material, and i found this cd, which coincidentially or not, i bought along with Dummy by Portishead (this is another classic album i’m showcasing later on), i put the record on when i came home and the record was nothing like i expected, no techno/rock freakout experience; in fact, it wasn’t techno at all, the feel was all lo-fi and minimalist instead of digitally multilayered, the second time i listened to it, i became hooked on the atmospheric surroundings it created, this warm but strange wrapper of a world i didn’t expected it existed in me (the key here is “me” since it’s an introspective album). The sound of it isn’t dissonant or urged at all, yet it feels new and exciting, since it takes hip-hop and makes this sprawling, epic soundscapes, all done almost completely thru sampling of obscure, scratched up, crackling vinyl. The album’s cover features a photo of a vinyl record store and people browsing thru the crates, inside the booklet appears a listing of everybody who has influenced DJ Shadow to make the album, which seemed sort of odd considering how groundbreaking this album is. But that’s only on first sight, the genius of the album lies in the fact that this record was made like every other old school hip hop album recorded before the mid-90’s, it’s all crack n’ pop samples and muffled drum beats, the approach is the same, but the depth of it is different whatsover. It’s influence can be heard everywhere, especially in indie hip hoppers like RJD2, Blockheads and Sixtoo, and Shadow has released some really great stuff after (like 02’s The Private Press and last years concert dvd/cd Live – In Tune And On Time, both of which you should get, like, now) but perhaps his greatest talent, like Burt Bacharach, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead before him, is that of an amazing arranger, probably the best arranger hip hop will ever know.

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