DJ Shadow – The Private Press
DJ Shadow’s 1996 album Endtroducing..... is a landmark; it already has a two-disc Deluxe Edition reissue and holds the Guinness World Record as the first album to be recorded using only sampled sounds. If anyone’s going to get one DJ Shadow album, it’s going to be that. But his follow up, The Private Press, is maybe better (gasp). It’s more open than Endtroducing and seems to labor less under the stress of Shadow’s disciplined production method. Regardless, it’s worth picking up on because he’d never grace us with an album like this again.
Over 14 tracks—charmingly bookended by a privately pressed audio letter from a woman to her distant relative—Shadow gives us everything we could want out of an album by any sort of artist, sample-based hip-hop or otherwise. The disc has moody atmospherics over killer drums (“Fixed Income,” “Giving Up The Ghost,” “Mongrel…Meets His Maker”) dense hip-hop instrumentals (“Walkie Talkie,” “Right Thing/GDMFSOB”) psychedelia (“Six Days,”) rock (“You Can’t Go Home Again”) and even a big ‘80s prog-pop moment (“Blood on the Motorway”).
Every song builds steadily, adding textures upon textures and coming to its own embryonically conceived of conclusion rather than having to return to the same signature sample that started the song to finish it.