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DJ Shadow “Pre-Emptive Strike” Review

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DJ Shadow Preemptive Strike

DJ Shadow makes me thing of what I would want to play at a social gathering, a party, a get together. Maybe I’d have some overpriced under-appreciated fine alcohols, or some wines which I can’t stand but flaunt anyhow. Maybe I’d accompany the drinks with some costly appetizers or cheeses; something which I wouldn’t be appreciate because the taste would be identical to my unpracticed palate as a bold cheddar purchased from the dairy section at the local grocer would. I’d invite only the most suave and engrossing people and we would sit and discuss the inequities of modern global economics and our latest trip to any number of museums. Contrasting the sounds playing at the party would be further discussion of any number of commonly unread books, unheard music and unwatched movies; all classics by our standards.

Unfortunately at parties I tend to find myself sitting around a table of some sort, playing any number of cards games; all of which I have yet to successfully cheat at. This accompanied by drinking the most over-appreciated, underpriced drinks with no appetizers or cheeses to be found anywhere. The closest any conversation comes in terms of classic media is an argument as to why people can seemingly be huge Led Zeppelin fans without having a similar taste in Black Sabbath.

None the less, the first is the mental image I get in my head when considering DJ Shadow’s Preemptive Strike. Essentially, created to fill the holes for listeners unfamiliar with Shadow, but startled by Entroducing, Preemptive Strike offers a look at the releases that aren’t as slick, unique and entertaining. The multiple part “What Does Your Soul Look Like” series sounds like something that could have easily be abstracted and put on an EP, released under a different context and enjoyed completely. But by introducing an excellent (12 minute) track “In/Flux” at the start of the album, its introduction completely calms the flow down far too much. I can’t say that in all honesty, as Part 2, despite being 13 minutes in length, is the only consistent calm song in the set. Part 3 has a shorter length, increased pace, and a far faster beat; a very crucial track given its predecessor’s prolonged tone and length.

Part 4 takes me back to memories of my initial encounters with Entroducing. It’s slow, without sounding slow. Smooth, while it includes a beat that would question some modern funk artists. As saxophone is introduced and slight scratches are heard, this is what I think of when I think of hip. It’s at this point that I fall back to earth and remember just what I’m listening to. This is essentially from Entroducing, simply unmixed version. Part 4 is hip all the same.

Part 1, again from Entroducing, and again unmixed (and again following suit, as 4 is played before 1), has a different affect on me as the sound’s context has changed now. I’m reminded of Dave Chappelle’s skit with John Mayer and ?uestlove where different styles of music are played for different races to get the greatest reaction possible. I can envision Dave kicking Mayer out of the scene, pulling a sheet off of something, revealing a saxophonist and ?uestlove, who begins to lay down a slow beat. The scene is no longer a barber shop, but a trendy coffee house in the most fashionable of communities, circa the mid to late 1990s. The place doesn’t erupt, but a wave oh muted “ah”s can be heard over the gentle sounds of the band.

“High Noon” though out of place on this album, is a terrific song. Taken as an A-side from a 1997 single, a guitar introduction allows the tone of this album to change in an instant. No longer does 2002’s The Private Press come as such a surprise, as I can now see that transitional tracks were there all along; all I had to do was find them. With an ever-evolving transition between instruments, the track flirts with neo-progressive rock while slowly dying out and muting its idiosyncrasies. Ending the album is a mix of Entroducing’s Organ Donor.

By far one of the best tracks ever completed by Shadow is this. Though inferior to its original, this mix still completes what has now become Entroducing 2.1. Not an improvement, but simply a supplemental addition for those that have grown too comfortable with the original and are looking to find more. As its purpose is different than the work known of the artist at the time, so to is the sound of the album. The flow isn’t as consistent, the tracks aren’t as listener friendly, and the general quality of the songs isn’t the same; but then again, it’s hard to duplicate what is essentially perfection in its genre.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]