First of all, props to Jeej, he’ll be doing a *comprehensive* review (if i know him well) so watch out!
DJ Shadow has by all accounts (mine too) pulled a (very twisted) Madonna on us and he’s presenting us with the likes of this:
First time I listened, I practically forced myself into an aural straight-jacket, to listen to the whole of The Outsider and not skip any possible goodness. Maybe almost no track is what I expected, but I’ll still search for the details. The spirit of the tracks that Shadow concocts so well.
My feelings about this album started to change the second time I listened, by the third I felt like a banana had been squashed on my brain. Of course by then I was skipping the unadulterated hyphy mess. It might be a movement, it might have an agenda, it might speak to Josh but it doesn’t to me. Now, I don’t believe he totally wanted to alienate his older fans because half the album cavorts with his former spacey self. See, that’s the problem with hyphy. I like music that gives me space to move a thought, not make me feel like I’ve reached an epileptic state of zggrz and crnnnks and messy keyboards. What’s to feel from all those?
Re-inventing yourself isn’t always good. An axiom as demonstrated hitherto by Josh Davis aka DJ Shadow.
I assume there’s something very private on this LP. Some of the lyrics and the spoken-word ritual (that Shadow preserves intact) say just that. There’s social inadequecies that Shadow cares about – how the Katrina victims were treated. There’s also more than meets the ear. This isn’t a bad album as ideology, but the bottom line is I’m not left with a strong feeling about it, and my gut tells me there’s something wrong. It’s not lack of cohesion, no- because cohesion is more than just a flow between the last and first seconds of two consecutive tracks.
The heavier drum-guitar combo on Artifact sound like it’s been sampled off Metallica’s St. Anger. Midway through the song, the drums prevail.. but then the flow gets disrupted once more. This track encapsulates what the whole album is. Pretty much a dichotomy. A crossroad that keeps multiplying upon itself, and you’re left with a question mark hanging above your head like the sword of fucking Damocles. Josh Davis is no fool, he’s doing this on purpose. But why?! Why do you get Erase You afterwards – it’s not a masterpiece but it does take you to another level compared to the rest.
All in all, this is just first impressions.. I still have my respect intact for Shadow. I think.
Original image by hinchcliff