DJ Shadow returns with his full-length follow up to 1996's "Endtroducing...," which was critically acclaimed while bringing the trip-hop genre to the forefront - at least that's what music journalists around the world liked to say.
I have never heard "Endtroducing..." in full, but am familiar enough with Shadow to know what he brings to the table. With "Private Press," Shadow pushes his style even further away from the "hip-hop sound," into more of a blend of hip-hop, heavy break beat, and techno style elements.
"Private Press" is a beat-driven album. While there are vocal samples sprinkled throughout, most of the tracks take a main bass line and run with it, incorporating other sounds over it along the way. No sound sample is really off limit either (you can even hear a phone ringing suddenly).
Starting with the first track, "Fixed Income," you can see the kind of formula many of the tracks stick to. With hard-hitting drums laying the framework, techno-type highs fill out most of the track's sound. Throwing in even more drums and some guitar type jams, this track comes together and takes off. "Giving Up the Ghost" is another similar track, not in sound, but in formula. In this track, the violin sample and the hard stomping sound (almost to the effect of military marching) really set it apart from the rest of the non-vocal tracks.
The other strictly beat tracks, "Mongrel," "Right Thing/GDMFSOB," "You Can't Go Home Again" and "Monosylabik" are mostly kept in the same vein, while the latter samples some heavy breathing, not too different from the breathing found in a certain George Lucas film?
The tracks that add vocals hold up better than the rest, starting with the single "Six Days." A slow bass line with faster complementing sounds set this track up for it's sung vocals; the end result a track hard to put a classification on. It is certainly dope though. "Walkie Talkie" and "...Meets his Maker" are slightly messy tracks, there is no set vocal arrangement to either of them, but they're solid tracks nonetheless.
Meanwhile, "Blood on the Motorway," a 9-minute plus epic, doesn't become appealing until after the music stops three minutes in and the real singing starts upon the songs restart. You might want to just skip to that part of the song.
Hard-core hip-hop fans might not be feeling this album as it tends to drift into numerous other styles of music. If I had to compare to other similar things, Moby would come to mind, although this album is more hip-hop than any Moby album is. That said, it is better than most Moby stuff out there, but not as good as, say, Aussie DJ crew The Avalanches' debut, "Since I Left You." If you're a fan of any of this music, or DJ beats and albums, "The Private Press" should be picked up.