12"s. They come and they go.
Sometimes they're released and you have absolutely no awareness of their existence.
Many releases almost seem a secret.
They are ephemeral.
Rarely entering the charts, they are the equivalent of a novella compared to the novel.
They're not quite an album: but their more than a 7" or single release.
This release came hot on the tail of the massively innovative and inspiring Entroducing, an album made in its entirety from recorded music and samples that already existed; the first true act of bricolage in modern music (Solex, the Dutch musician is also considered to be a pioneer at this time, but she does sing over her constructed music, so Shadow really was the first true bricoleur).
DJ Shadow (Josh Davis to his mum) is one of those artists who is able to cross normally impenetrable territory and raise interest in those who would not normally bother to cock a snook at 'dance music'.
I have never seen him live - I find the idea of a DJ on a stage with a large audience gazing at him while he mixes slightly absurd - but I do love his music.
A friend of mine informed me - he did go to a DJ Shadow gig - that the decks and control panel are filmed and projected up on to a screen at the back of the stage; and the first thing that DJ Shadow does, obviously, is to place a stylus on to a spinning record.
There was a big close-up of this moment apparently, and as soon as the stylus landed and bit, the audience erupted, went totally berserk. Apparently.
As I previously mentioned, this release did follow in the shadow (ahem) of Entroducing, and the residual sound from Entroducing is certainly identifiable here.
The first cut, 'High Noon' takes a familiar, almost distinctly DJ Shadow tune and bigs it up with a big hooky, surf-type, cowboy-like guitar riff [!] and kind of goes to town with it.
The beats are all over the place, as it sounds like he's sampled half a dozen kits all playing at the same time; but they never become cacophonous; and that is very much down to his control and skill.
All of the tracks include speech samples; either as introductions, outros or dropped in and manipulated into the mix.
This works best on the track 'Devil's Advocate' where a bigotted fundamentalist can be heard damning rock n roll music due to its 'sexualizing' powers.
Shadow's manipulation of the lecturer's discourse diminishes his diatribe down to the level of a quivering jelly, turning his very words into a degenerate beat.
But the best track is the final cut: 'Organ Donor', which is my all time favourite DJ Shadow tune.
This mix is wonderfully produced; generously spaced and a masterpiece of editing.
It isn't the usual full-on assault that so many of Shadow's tracks end up being, and it could even be considered minimal in its structure; but the way the sounds are recorded is quite wonderful.
The organ sound is loaded with a synasthetic darkness, removing it totally from the atmosphere of a tea dance or a pensioner-targeted gig in the park.
Juxtaposed with the manic scratching; so manic it creates a singular sound; and the wonderfully captured cymbal and snare beats, the mix is quite extraordinary; even for the Shadow.
DJ Shadow - High Noon (1997)
Devil's Advocate (heaven v. Hell - Bonus Beat)
Organ Donor (Extended Overhaul)
Vinyl rip @ 320kbs
Gotta be really; be disrespectful otherwise.
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