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DJ Shadow – The Less You Know, The Better (2011)

         DJ Shadow – The Less You Know, The Better
Birth name: Joshua Paul Davis
Born: June 29, 1972, San Jose, California, U.S.
Origin: Davis, California, U.S.
01 – Back To Front (Circular Logic)  2:05
02 – Border Crossing  3:36
03 – Stay The Course  3:36
04 – I’ve Been Trying  3:13
05 – Sad And Lonely  3:10
06 – Warning Call (feat. Tom Vek)  3:36
07 – Tedium  2:27
08 – Enemy Lines  5:34
09 – Going Nowhere  0:28
10 – Redeemed  4:26
11 – Run For Your Life  3:25
12 – Give Me Back The Nights  3:55
13 – I Gotta Rokk  6:29
14 – Scale It Back  4:17
15 – Circular Logic (Front to Back)  4:55
16 – (Not So) Sad And Lonely  4:30
17 – Come On Riding (Through The Cosmos)  4:48
18 – Def Surrounds Us  7:38
19 – Let’s Get It (Bass Bass Bass)  4:30
Released: September 27, 2011
Recorded: 2009-2011
Genre: Electronic, instrumental hip hop, trip hop
Length: 59:17
Label: Verve, Island, A&M
Producer: DJ Shadow
Website: http://djshadow.com/
Jim Abbiss – mixing
Ross Allen – A&R
Erik Bodin – composer
Jamal Chalabi – management
Pagnew M. Charlton – composer
John Dent – mastering
DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) – composer, arrangement, beats, mixing, production, scratching
Mikael "Count" Eldridge – mixing
Express Rising – additional production, remixing
Talib Kweli (Talib Kweli Greene) – composer
Brett Lind – assistant
Stanton Moore – drums
Posdnuos (Kelvin Mercer) – composer
Yukimi Nagano – composer
Darrell Sweet – composer
Tony Papesh – artwork
Susan Reed – vocals
Rob Seiver – licensing
Rick Vargas – assistant
Håkan Wirenstrand – composer
Tim Young – mastering

   Review by John Bush
Proud to be a turntable throwback in an age of iPod mixers, DJ Shadow constructs his beats (and tracks, and mixes) from the ground up. The result is an album that sounds unlike any other, even though it's comprised of countless bits and pieces of vinyl history. The Less You Know, The Better, his fourth studio album and first in five years, also sounds closer to his classic Endtroducing..... than any of his others, as though Shadow's finally willing to embrace his career landmark instead of constantly play against type. It contrasts starkly with 2006’s The Outsider, which was heavily rap-based. (Here, only Posdnuos and Talib Kweli rhyme, and they're both on the same track.) Instead, Shadow focuses on plumbing the depths of his record collection, occasionally flashing and scratching like in his salad days, but just as often pulling slabs of forgotten wax -- metal riffs, piano balladry, bygone acid-rock burnouts, crystalline female folkies -- to state his case for him. As on Endtroducing....., his ear for interesting obscurities is nearly faultless, but he seems to have less patience than earlier in his career. The first seven tracks, each under three-and-a-half minutes, flit from style to style so quickly that heads will spin, and he doesn't quite connect the dots between tracks as well as he was doing in the mid-'90s. (Granted, anyone looking for a single to pull from the album has a clear winner, “Warning Call” featuring fellow Island Records artist Tom Vek.) Shadow certainly followed a tough road to get this album released: two singles previously released for the album faced samples-clearance issues and didn't make the final program (which makes it clear that this wasn't the exact album he had in mind originally). Except for the occasionally bumpy ride, though, The Less You Know, The Better is one of the most entertaining albums of the year, with countless moments of brilliance. Being a throwback means there aren't many like you, and the album positively shines compared to the rest of instrumental hip-hop in the 2000s and 2010s. In that sense, it proves the wisdom of the cover design, where a trio of cartoonish consumer-electronic devices attempt to whitewash the album title off a billboard.


Author: Daigo Oliva / October 29, 2006


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