1 January, 2002@12:00 am
While not the groundbreaking classic that Endtroducing was, DJ Shadow’s official sophomore release (with all due respect to the compiled efforts of Pre-Emptive Strike, and his collaborative Unkle full-length with James LaVelle), is a bold reinvention of the artist who first made a name for himself cutting & pasting rare grooves for the Solesides crew.
The Private Press represents a change in style for Shadow - after all, like the single says, he can’t go home again. Longtime fans may be disappointed in the fact that Shadow has abandon his typical formulas, but regardless, musically the album still stands as a well-produced piece as a whole. It’s less cohesive than Endtroducing, in the fact that it spans several different styles of production, heavily reflecting the massive catalog of music that Shadow samples to create his beats. While less “hip-hop” than the last album, he hasn’t forgotten about us completely, as he shows raw turntablism braggadocio on the incredibly dope “Walkie Talkie”, or casts Lateef the Truth Speaker as a freeway speed-demon on “Mongrel Meets His Maker (1/2)”, with 60′s go-go flair. But many of the album’s other instrumentals sound as if they would be better suited for Depeche Mode than Lateef The Truth Speaker. This electric 80′s new-wave sound invades songs like “Mongrel”/”Meets His Maker”, “You Can’t Go Home Again”, and “Blood On The Motorway”, but thankfully still remains grounded somewhere within your classic moody Shadow sound.
Despite the change in style, for the most part it’s forever evident that this is still DJ Shadow you are listening to, as his presence hovers throughout the entire album. His signature sound is best executed on “Giving Up The Ghost” where his layered samples act as an orchestra building to climax, and the album’s crown jewel is “Six Days”. With the barrage of samples that Shadow puts under what was once an obscure song called “Six Day War”, the outcome is simply beautiful, building an entirely new composition of sound.
The only real curveballs here are “Monosyllabic”, where Shadow gets a little too experimental in production nerdiness for his own good, or the still likable “Right Thing”, which quickly flips into the breaker’s delight “Gdmfsob”, before it gets too insulting. While The Private Press is less constructed like a hip-hop record, and certainly less cohesive as a whole than Endtoducing was, Shadow has still got another strong album on his hands, and no fear of losing product placement in both mom & pop shops and Best Buys everywhere.
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