DJ Shadow

Entroducing... (FFFR/Mo Wax '96) Rating: A
This hard to describe, one of a kind masterpiece was the brainchild of Josh Davis, a.k.a. DJ Shadow. Amazingly, this audacious "producer's album" features not one original piece of music on it, and the true star of the album is arguably none other than Shadow's own bottomless record collection. Though not a hip-hop record, Shadow uses hip-hop's mix n' match aesthetic to reconfigure mostly obscure pieces of music into brand new shapes. Really, no other album I can think of so convincingly validates sampling as an art form, and unlike Paul's Boutique (considered the previous sampling standard bearer by many) Entroducing... thankfully keeps the bratty vocals to a minimum. In fact, the album is largely instrumental, or at least the vocal samples are secondary to the mysterious soundscapes, and it's completely unclassifiable. For example, "Building Steam With a Grain of Salt" delivers haunting late night mood music, the beat heavy "The Number Song" excels on its excellent groove, "What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 4)" has an airy jazz vibe, "Stem/Long Stem" is several songs in one held together by its recurring piano motif, "Mutual Slump" mixes trip-hop and free jazz, "Midnight In A Perfect World" has another slowly swaying, head bobbin' trip-hop groove that makes it a clear highlight, "Napalm Brain/Brain Scatter" delivers spacey headphone music, and "What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 1 - Blue Sky Revisit)" ends the album with a loungey sax-led number. Yet for all the album's varying styles and source material it's surprisingly cohesive, though like most electronic albums it's overly reliant on repetition. Still, the overall end result is an incredible accomplishment that's best experienced in its entirety with the aid of a good pair headphones. The album may be tough pin down, but I guess we can simply file it all under "really good music" and consider this the best chill out album since The Wall or at the very least Maxinquaye.

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