Review Summary: "ReEndtroducing....."
Admittedly, I'm a huge devoted junkie when it comes to the regarded instrumental. I throughly enjoy divulging into the collections of Pete Rock classics like the jazz-rap masterpiece "PeteStrumentals", or into other regarded counter-types such as the late Dilla's daunting journeys into Detroit, or into the beauty and awe of The Foreign Exchange of Nicolay and Phonte fame. I have always found myself at home and in comfort with the matching ambience and mood of what the producer conveys and transports us to, because in all retrospective: instrumentals in general are an utter photograph of one's local surroundings and a portrait of his or her's influential background. New York and the grimy boroughs that surround around its peculiar island was the setting Pete Rock simulated to his brethren, whilst The Foreign Exchange took the Europa surroundings of Nicolay and the trying grit of the South of Phonte's upbringing into one, distinctive form that brings off equal feels of each continent. When it comes to DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis), who's from California of all means, he vibes off the essence and feel of not just the funk, rock background that he was immersed in back in San Fransisco, but he takes the grime and jazz of New York and the precipitating, ambient atmosphere of London into his very own experimenting, exotic form.
When DJ Shadow's defining 1996 classic debut "Endtroducing......" came rolling into the shelves of record stores across the globe, his heavily sampled, downbeat style was the signature moment that sparked the instrumental movement into it's heyday. The various sampling Davis takes from all kinds of genres spanning across the music spectrum and other media alike, its long range of emotional feels gave such prominent producers like Pete Rock and Dilla the power they needed to piece together their own original styles. The eternal legacy it left behind, branching out of hip-hop and into the pop and electronic minds alike, has only continued to be told into his later career, but like all great classics, there's always this pressure that the future sets of compositions will never live up to the high-class standard that "Endtroducing......" set the bar high with. That couldn't have be more easily predictable when his last album, 2011's "The Less You Know, The Better" took Davis to a new low in his career as he struggled to compliment the nostalgia and feel his early debut had portrayed in vigorous form. Now being under the direction of rap legend Nas' Mass Appeal Records with his euphoric comeback "The Mountain Will Fall", DJ Shadow has suddenly rediscovered himself once again to introduce to the new generation what all the fuss was about all those decades ago, whilst reintroducing to the cult following he's amassed in that timeframe that he's still got it in him to catapult us back into the golden past, while also advancing us to the modern present of electronica.
Venturing into the spaciness of his tasering, self-titled introduction, it feels as if Davis has really taken it upon himself to progress musically to the modern age, conjuring up a very dynamic, triply yet rhythmic, electric formula that is beaming up with euphoria and breathtaking awe. Divulged in serene, beautiful synth overlays that match up to the crashing bass lines that zoom across and laser through with vicerstcing effect, it feels as if you are being transported literally into the naturalistic setting of a waterfall or daunting landmark as you are perched upon it, overwhelmed by its sheer beauty and flair across a perfect sunny sky. The kind of natural and visual simulation that you want to feel and embrace around you, the true purpose of what instrumentals like this are supposed to divert you to. What you have to take into account is that unlike the entirely sample-built compositions he has created in the past, this was all entirely his own original creation which freshens up the fact that Davis is more than just a producer talented in amassing samples as he discovers and mashing it up into his own exotic, mind-numbing creation. He does it throughout this diverse road-trip by experimenting with the per usual electric styles, partially switching it up in the heated, menacing "Nobody Speak" by fixating puzzling synth layers that pulsate to the sun-bathed, melodic country guitar and mischievous horns laid upon, pairing with the comedic, yet damning voices of indie hip-hop duo Run The Jewels leading the calvary across this scorching journey of a track. With mocking lyricism like when Killer Mike alarms to the listener "Nobody speak/nobody get choked", laughing at the badass tendencies of mischievous actions, it is quite the contradiction to Davis' production that conveys that serious tone and rustic feel, voided of comedy and humor.
While the modern age certainly has come into life in his scenic comeback, it wouldn't be the same DJ Shadow we know and admire without his signature, heavily-sampled sound bursting into life to turn back the clock a few decades from the advanced year of 2016. Turning up the vintage, bustling "The Sideshow" featuring unknown newcomer Ernie Fresh, it feels like you're being transported to late '80s-era New York as you are bombarded by up-tempo, busy drums that crowds with full immersion to the low, defiant horns and bass that match up together along with it. Flooded with era-fitted voice samples that add to its vintage, aged feel in addition to the live, seemingly raw vocals from Fresh, that feels like an actual performance being delivered, reminiscent of many '80s rappers' recordings of the time like KRS-One. This truly feels like a true throwback kind of track to bump to on full volume. It gives off a similar feel to what we were delivered two decades back with the bristling "The Number Song", created with a vivid business to it that defines the fast-pace life the city of New York and its surrounding boroughs give off. The kind of classic, elegant production we've come to expect and enjoy in mere satisfaction from Davis, not quite groundbreaking like the earlier works of his past but it does its nostalgic diligence more than enough.
Turning back to the new and away from the old is the snapshot definitive of what "The Mountain Will Fall" has sought to achieve, and does in refreshing abundance. It gives appeal to the new generation for its brightening, warm electric hues that breeze on by with distinctive, puzzling patterns that fragment around, which while at times it can feel bungled and confusing (the abrupt cut in "The Slideshow" with 40 seconds left, to resume again), it was merely intended in the process. Whilst that new generation is given large, immense satisfaction with it, this newly-molded phase we see Davis venture to wasn't vastly explored as much as you could hope for, with trap-fixated showcases like the kaleidoscopic "Ghost Town" being nothing but merely to toy around with and to throw away and try again with something else. While experimentation is his strong suit, this is the only, yet biggest and blow that riddles this album is the lack of musical depth it fails to show up with. It doesn't shatter it completely though, as the diverse range of scope that Davis at least shoots out from all across the music spectrum is still quite variant and enjoyable, even if most of them were just "one-and-done compositions", with a return to his signature style still profoundly existent. The only wish you could've hope for is that the bulk of this wasn't "one-and-done tracks" and exploring his electric range further. But what this towering, eclectic return shows is that even while its been five years since that disappointment of a fittingly-titled release such as his 2011 disaster "The Less You Know, The Better", DJ Shadow still amasses the ability to deliver and to surprise his otherwise opinionated fanbase. With his usual exotic, variant instrumentals that comets through the stars in its defining visual beauty, he pleases his aged conglomerate with execution, while also "endtroducing" to the new who haven't yet taken a shot at his material. Not the perfect place to start preferably given his incredible debut, but a hell of a way to begin the journey regardless. If you've just joined that train, be prepared for the musical avalanche that you're getting yourself into, because it's a magical journey ahead.