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Go to the DJ Shadow website  DJ Shadow - The Private Press [A & M Records - 2002]

This disc has been out for a while now, and the reactions are much divided. Some are disappointed not being as groundbreaking as Endtroducing (1996), others give much praise for the instrumental hip-hop presented on The Private Press. After seeing DJ Shadow aka Josh Davis live at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium this year, I found a good reason to analyse the album once again and write a review...

After the first few listens, it becomes clear that DJ Shadow has taken parts of the Endtroducing concept but also incorporates a few different things to prevent that The Private Press becomes Endtroducing part 2. The definite track that suits the tag "different" is Six Days, a more song-based pop song with nicely flowing strings and soulful vocals, almost R&B-ish rather than a cut-and-paste orgy of samples. This might be the most recognizable track as well, sampling from the original track Six Day War by Colonel Bagshot. Blood On The Motorway, which follows the funny Mashin' On The Motorway is also quite different; almost new-age piano parts with spoken vocals generate a very emotional character. A character that goes on quite some time (the tracks spans more than 9 minutes), but towards the end the hip-hop beats fortunately kick in again, preparing the listener for You Can't Go Home Again, an energizing last track.

Apart from an unsuccessful intro and outro, a couple of short fillers, and the tracks mentioned aboveThe Private Press is full of strong hip-hop instrumentals and lovely poppy electro beat- and melody-textures. Variation is something easy to find on this album. Powerful, uplifting tracks such as Walkie Talkie, Right Thing/GDMFSOB and others rotate with quieter songs as Giving Up The Ghost and Mongrel...Meets His Maker. The samples are perfectly chosen from unknown – at least for most of us – source material, and carefully placed and altered to fit the music as tight as possible. Everything seems so perfectly placed.

So what has Josh Davis learned in the six years we've been waiting for this album? Not much, I'm afraid, since the mixing style and the production haven't changed a lot. Instead, he relies upon the same formula used before. Some may find this a disappointment, others not. It remains a matter of personal taste. Ok, The Private Press is indeed not as revolutionary as Endtroducing, but still stands as a strong and nearly essential album for those who enjoy the hip-hop music style with the fat beats, melodies and scratches, but are tired of the lyrical "gangsta" content as seen on television everyday. DJ Shadow hasn't lost his touch, let's all hope that the next album doesn't take another six years...

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Justin Faase
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