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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Album review: DJ Shadow stitches together dense sonic beats in The Mountain Will Fall

The Californian record collector’s sample-heavy, largely instrumental hip-hop becomes widescreen in his new album.
A handout album cover image of "The Mountain WIll Fall" by DJ Shadow (Courtesy: Mass Appeal)
A handout album cover image of "The Mountain WIll Fall" by DJ Shadow (Courtesy: Mass Appeal)

The Mountain Will Fall

DJ Shadow

(Mass Appeal)

Three-and-a-half stars

Josh “DJ Shadow” Davis’s early career peak has proved a double-edged sword: it has afforded him space to do more or less what he wants, yet none of his output has matched his classic 1996 debut Entroducing. The Californian record collector’s sample-heavy, largely instrumental hip-hop becomes ever more widescreen on The Mountain Will Fall.

Perhaps that ambitious scope explains why it has been five years in the making. Davis remains best when stitching together dense sonic patchworks, such as Depth Charge – a dramatic five minutes of climatic beats and menacing bass; a surround-sound experience tailor-made for headphones and head nodding.

Among a handful of guests, Run the Jewels are the standout, with the duo contributing cocksure boasts to Nobody Speak, although weirdly, it feels incongruous next to the rest of The Mountain Will Fall.

That’s almost Davis’s quandary in minutiae, though: while he’s clearly keen to push things forward, his fans are still craving soundscapes full of vinyl surface crackle more than cameos from the latest scene leaders.

aworkman@thenational.ae