Album review: DJ SHADOW | The Mountain Will Fall

Mass Appeal Records

Twenty years ago when DJ SHADOW was starting out, the world was a different place. It was different for all of us.

Technology has since boomed astronomically. Josh Davis AKA Shadow was back then rummaging through old vinyl at thrift shops and garage sales. The electronic disc jockey out front as the main star was a thing of the future. Davis was happy to stay in the background, in the shadows. Hence his name.

This album harks back to those days. Old school hip-hop.

He’s back with a bit of a vengeance, scoring his first Number 1 on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic albums, touring Europe including a stint at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival, and time in the spot-light on Jimmy Fallon’s Saturday Night Live with Run The Jewels. He’s collaborated with such diverse artists as Thom Yorke from Radiohead, Q-Tip and Depeche Mode and his influences span musical icons from James Brown to LL Cool J.

Title track The Mountain Will Fall, slowly, slowly creeps. Then a blood-curdling scream. Like an eerie, scary movie, distorted, creeping, lurking through the fog before fading away with waning synths into the ether.

Nobody Speak begins with a delicious guitar run, then jazzy riffs and Three Ralphs starts out jangly and discordant. Dramatic. Then heavy and pounding. Danger danger.

Featuring Ernie Fresh, The Sideshow is scra-scra-scratchy and Shadow collaborated with Berlin composer Nils Frahm on Bergschrund, which is German for cliff or crevice. It pulses with vintage synth-sounds. Low down and warped.

Ashes to Ocean is sparse. Pitter-patter. Almost oriental tinges. California and its heave-ho, heave-ho sounds like working on the chain-gang before it twists to a frantic end. Suicide Pack starts out soft and lilting. Then fades away into the sunset. And Mambo gets me all twerky-like again. It’s just as well I live alone, though I really couldn’t give a rat’s arse. I always dance like no one’s watching. It’s one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Hot damn dope. Yo Shadow, you da man. Keeping it real.

 

 

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