DJ Shadow, the ‘other’ half of UNKLE (James Lavelle being his partner in crime there), has a great second album here. It’s varied and intelligent and concerns itself with cycles. Frequently there is a feckless joy becoming absolute pain becoming pure joy theme.
The album is topped and tailed by (Letter From Home), some strange old bird talking about her life. To begin it leads us in, with boozy blues backing, into…
…Fixed Income‘s heavy pounding bass and trip hop flourishes (if trip hop can be said to have flourishes, it normally can be arsed to build up the enthusiasm). The drums build and you find your head rocking and your foot tapping before the guitar sample kicks in. Un Autre Introduction is very sample heavy and tune free – more of a light interlude than a track. Back to the tunes with the light and trance-y Giving Up The Ghost which builds to a funky Zero 7-esque instrumental number. Ghost-like wails can just be heard above the steady bass and metronomic beat. layer upon layer is added as the true depth becomes apparent and the mournful strings top it off perfectly. The tempo climbs barely noticeably and is gone and builds again faster and faster. A great track. One of the better known numbers on this CD is Six Days. This has Ibiza chill out written all over it. The vocals, at first, seem strained and weak. But they grow on you quickly and it can rapidly become a favourite track as it takes you, day by day, through most of the week. There seems something wrong with singing the word ‘Thursday’ somehow? Probably just me.
Mongrel… – A massive attack style bass line leads us into Mongrel… another completely instrumental number that can wash over you nicely as you listen and remain interesting and fresh. …Meets His Maker is seamlessly mixed in (as the ellipsis suggests). It’s more uplifting, purer and has more depth in this second half. We go into stranger areas with Right Thing/GDMFSOB; An odd track that grows on you. Concerning itself with the importance of searching through your collection and picking the right music to play for your current and desired mood. Something very close to my heart as you may imagine. This reminds me of an early PWEI track (post, but not to far past, Box Frenzy) before going funky and electropoppy. GodDamnMotherFuckingSonOfaBitch indeed… Deeply funky territory is suddenly upon you with Monosylabik. It’s perfectly topped off by the repeated refrain of ‘Wot you goin’ do now’. The elements are subtly toyed with and this track to draws you in and forces you to resemble a nodding dog as you admire the places your being taken from such a simple premise.
Mashin’ on the motorway is more uptempo, about – big shock – fast driving. It’s catchy and funny, toe tapping stuff that takes us faster and faster until a predictable (in a good way) end. Blood On The Motorway has more of a doom laden approach, after the clearly fatal crash that brings the previous track to an abrupt end. Some Bach organ samples and the voice of God welcoming the poor soul into the afterlife. Sombre and uplifting at the same time. Classy.
You Can’t Go Home – Sampling the Spanish guitar from intro from Simon & Garfunkle‘s El Condor Pasa (If I Could) – The only decent song ever to have included the pan pipes for my money – over an dance beat so completely at odds with the tempo of the original. Yet it works so well. A stand out track. Another (letter from home) shares more senile ramblings that give way eventually to Giving Up The Ghost (Original Version) – a bonus track for the UK – Still the same light and trancy track as before but with heavier beats as the track progresses.
An eclectic mix and an excellent driving album in the true sense of the word. Label : A&M Records
Release Date : Out Now
Website : www.DJShadow.com