wed 12/08/2020

CD: DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall | reviews, news & interviews

CD: DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall

CD: DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall

Game-changing US producer embraces the new with mixed results

Shadow gets the point

DJ Shadow, AKA Californian producer Josh Davis, is a renowned figure in the world of electronic music. His profile was especially high during the millennial period, primarily down to his groundbreaking 1996 debut album, Endtroducing…, which was built entirely from samples. It was a listening experience based around hip hop principles yet accessible to aficionados of post-rave electronica, and influenced multiple producers, leaving Shadow a figure of unassailable esteem.

In more recent times, Shadow himself has clearly felt that, after a 20-year career in the wake of his landmark work, he’d do well to heed key 21st Century players in instrumental hip hop. Claiming his last album, 2011’s The Less You Know, The Better was a farewell to his sample-headed following, he put in a statement appearance at LA alt-hop mecca Low End Theory, regular haunt of vanguard producers such as Nosaj Thing, Nobody and Daedelus, and started his freaky electronica label Liquid Amber. His new album, then, embraces production software rather than samples, and is clearly made by someone who appreciates the seminal sounds he's been exploring, the likes of Flying Lotus and his ilk (in fact, the enjoyably manic, gabber-tastic crunch of “California” even sounds like the Flying Lotus associate The Gaslamp Killer in full deranged flow).

Individual tracks on The Mountain Will Fall are of interest: the rock’n’roll twang of “Nobody Speak”, featuring Run The Jewels spitting out lines such as “I am guilty, Motherfuckers, I am death!”; the burbling, spaced mournfulness of the outro, “Suicide Pact”, redolent of a Gonjasufi instrumental; most especially the arrhythmic, surrealist party that is “Mambo”. There’s more fun to be had too but, as a whole, the album doesn’t quite gel. The listener finds themself mentally wandering during certain passages, then being jarred by what comes next. There’s good music here, but it's more like a collection of rarities, b-sides and unreleased experiments than a holistic experience.

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