Directly or indirectly, DJ Shadow started this abstract instrumental Hip-Hop shit and that’s the motherfucking thanks he gets? From Flying Lotus’ epic Californian space symphonies to Bristol’s blunted beats, the whole of today’s urban electronic landscape owes Josh Davis a debt of gratitude yet the man’s cultural capital seems to be at an all time low. Perhaps it was Donuts’ angular roughness overtaking Endtroducing’s prog lushness as the instrumental model du jour or maybe it was just The Outsider but you’d think there’d be a helluvalot more name drops coming Shadow’s way in light of today’s beat-centric environment.
To be fair, the ever reclusive Shadow hasn’t done much to bolster his legacy in recent years either though thankfully that changes now. Enter “The New Futility”, a double sided single that does much to redeem the previous decade’s restlessness and exploration by coming back home. Certainly, this is the most “Shadow-esque” release we’ve heard from the man in years, returning him to a tried and true aesthetic that’s hardly as innovative a decade and a half after his debut but it doesn’t need to be: Shadow does this stuff better than anybody else out there and it’s a joy just to listen to him be himself again. “Def Surrounds Us” is 7 minutes of MPC porn mixed with crunk that kind of sounds like Drum & Bass with an emphasis on the “drum”. “I’ve Been Trying” is as Trip-Hop as it gets and might have sounded gauche 5 years ago but it’s an honest song from one of music’s honest men and fuck it if that blues guitar don’t sound good.
Those wishing for more on the subject are advised to check out Jeff’s post over at the Times. Those downloading the tracks should note that they’ll only be up for 24 hours, so get to gettin’.
MP3: DJ Shadow – The New Futility (left click)