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DJ Shadow – The Less You Know the Better

5 out of 10

Following up 2006’s The Outsider, cialis revered beatsmith DJ Shadow’s latest offering The Less You Know the Better comprises of exactly what fans expect; heavily sampled material paired with distinct genre variation. Shadows’ sampling style is familiar at this stage; guitars, look piano, clinic turntable scratches and vocal snippets are all put to use across the 17 tracks and while well respected rappers Talib Kweli and Posdnuos also feature, their presence is one of few indicators that Shadow has any ideas left to explore. Having set his own standards incredibly high with 1996’s groundbreaking Endtroducing, fans will be let down by the lack of emotional depth and a flat out refusal to move with the pace of contemporary hip-hop.

‘Back to Front’ begins with a drone followed by a man saying ‘I’m back, I forgot my drum!’  then breaks into a classic DJ Shadow beat. The sense of continuous motion, voices and scratching brings ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ by The Avalanches to mind, however, they are so vastly different in quality, it’s hard not to feel short changed by a tired formula. ‘Sad And Lonely’, as you might guess, is a melancholic song, albeit without making any meaningful connection with the listener; a lonely piano is paired with its old friend the violin while a woman who warns young women not to trust young men. This is an unwelcome and uninspired DJ Shadow at work. ‘Warning Call’ sounds quite indie rock; it’s lively and contains some very catchy riffs, and provides a rare respite from unrepentant blandness. ‘Afrikan Boy’ develops into a grime sound, giving us a moment of recognition that Shadow may still have a hold of his thinking cap. Lead single ‘I Gotta Rokk’ is a catchy piece that hosts some classic Shadow style sampling, but there’s little else to say about this record, it all seems to serve as a poor imitation of an inspired musicians past brilliance. If DJ Shadow is ever going to reclaim his lost position at the throne of instrumental hip–hop, this is an example of exactly how not to do it. A big disappointment.

 

Dan Cooney