Thursday, September 4, 2008

This is not a dream...

We are using your brain's electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream.

In the fall of 1992, I inherited my dad's beat-up Audi after they moved back to Cape Town. One weekend, I bailed on classes and drove from college in Madison, WI, to a tiny town in Ohio to visit a friend at his school. We partied, we drank, we took mushrooms, I got pulled over (twice), we had a grand time, as responsibility-free 21 year olds are wont to do. One night, my friend T introduced me to an artist named DJ Shadow; specifically, his first full-length album, Endtroducing...

Instantly, my mind was blown and my definition of music changed forever.

DJ Shadow
,(born Josh Davis) is a DJ, producer, artist, turntablist, mad scientist, and certifiable genius. Endtroducing... is actually, literally in the Guinness Book of World Records - it's the very first album created from 100% sampled music. That's right, there is not a single original piece of music in the entire 13 track album.

Anyone who calls the album unoriginal is completely insane.

Shadow has had his finger in a lot of pies over the years, serving as a participant with innumerable other artists including Dr. Octagon, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Lyrics Born and DJ Krush. He has three main albums - Endtroducing..., The Private Press, and The Outsider. All of them are, in their own unique way, incredible. They all show his incredible diversity of talent, his ability to bend sound and music to his will and slip seamlessly in and out of genres. He apparently has literally 10's of 1000's of albums, and finds ways to utilize even the slightest, tiniest snippet of each of them into his tracks.

His most recent album, The Outsider,

was a blend of his DJ stylings mixed with hip-hop, something that moved away from his earlier efforts and drew him some criticism at first. But the man is ever-changing, and doesn't like to run in place... and I've got to respect that.

Yet Endtroducing... is the one I keep going back to. It's a mix of sounds and beats and lyrics (not to mention segments taken from the John Carpenter's near-classic Prince of Darkness). It's simply indescribably amazing, that someone could take literally dozens of tracks and mix and mash them into viable, fascinating soundscapes that sound wholly unique and completely original. It is, without hyperbole or exaggeration, one of my favorite albums of all time. Seriously. It cracks the top 10 without me even blinking. Allow me to present you with some tracks:

Mutual Slump:

Midnight In a Perfect World:


Building Steam With a Grain of Salt:

this is a fan-created vido... the best I could do.

Finally, an extra special treat - Brian Udelhofen, a music teacher in Minnesota, created the Shadow Percussion Project, where he took the album and adapted some of the tracks with a live orchestral group. It's not perfect, but it's pretty damn impressive. This is their version of the above video. It's long, but worth it.

Now playing:
DJ Shadow - Stem (Cops 'n' Robbers Mix)
via FoxyTunes


Daniel said...

Aaah, Shadow. About ten years back, I put myself on a waiting list in Britain's biggest music store to get a copy ON CD of Endtroducing. It was worth the (ridiculously long, considering) wait. I've seen him live twice and, well, he cheated a bit but that trick he does where he asks a couple of members of the crowd where they're from then instantly makes a track out of the samples is pretty impressive, even when you're not as high as a Georgia pine.

Psyence Fiktion, under the guise of UNKLE with james Lavelle, is also worth a mention, no?

elizabeth said...

I got that same thrill from the Girl Talk Night Ripper album. Some of the fun is parsing the individual samples from the layers upon layers, but it's also just a damned good album.