You Can't Go Home Again
DJ Shadow - You Can’t Go Home Again
The king of sampling DJ Shadow is often known for his standout debut album Endtroducing which obliterated the arguments of anyone still seriously contesting the legitimacy of sampling as an art form. But his second full length studio effort The Private Press tends to be brushed aside from public consciousness despite it being equally as strong as Endtroducing.
What The Private Press lacks in breaking new ground it makes up for in innovation and further experimentation. It is hard to pinpoint what it is that makes the album so incredible; perhaps it is the experience of being transformed to an unpredictable and exciting new soundscape with each track. This is definitely not 3 minute pop song territory, and DJ Shadow challenges the listener’s expectations by shifting focus and pushing boundaries with every new sample he uses.
Photo of DJ Shadow and fellow Quannum artist Chief Xcel in 1995.
Download - You Can’t Go Home Again (control-click, save as)
Massive Attack - Lately
A couple of years ago, I’d been out with a group of friends in Melbourne for far longer and later than I’d anticipated. Home by 1am? Add four hours on to that and you’d be closer to the truth. Despite my sleep-deprived state, this track from Massive Attack’s 1991 debut managed to wade its way through the fog and into my memory during the eventual car-ride home. Too tired to bother asking what the track was, I noted some lyrics down and vowed to Google them when I was a little less narcoleptic.
Blue Lines is critically regarded as one of the best trip-hop albums of the early 90’s, but with tracks such as Unfinished Sympathy and Daydreaming receiving the most attention, this gentle penultimate number may slip past many radars.
Whilst now a partnership of Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall, the Blue Lines-era membership included a third lad from Bristol - Andy Vowles. The beauty of Lately lies in its simplicity - effortlessly laid-back, but without being boring - evidenced in the fact that it grabbed my attention rather than sent me to sleep during our first encounter.
Shara Nelson was something of a fourth member during the recording of Blue Lines, co-writing tracks and lending vocals, and it is her voice that leads the way, guiding the listener through the murky bass and well-timed industrial hammers of Lately.
I’ll always associate this track with nighttime, but it can be enjoyed any time of day - particularly during this season, for, like Shara, summertime always gives me the blues too.
Jai Paul - Chix
One of the most promising r&b acts from the 00s and the 10s is Jai Paul. He has such a revolutionary approach to production, fusing symphonic synthesizers, an etherial voice and a mysterious persona that would make the most reclusive hermit seem like a showpony.
Like the limelight Jai Paul has recieved so far, Chix is short-lived. The 50 something second track is over before it can really morph into a fully recognised song but there is more than enough presence and feeling behind the song than 94% of music on the radio at the moment.
If you aren’t up to speed with Jai Paul’s criminally short catalogue of demos and leaks, I suggest you get acquainted with the recently released (or leaked?) mixtape Everlasting which features all of the music he has made that has surfaced to date.
You can download all 10 tracks for free from here and finish off the mix in 20 minutes flat. Much more efficient than the speed it has taken Jai Paul to actually make the music. Listen to this in the meantime, as we can only hope against hope that an album does eventually does materialise from the incognito British icon.
Emancipator - Minor Cause
Elegance and exotic soundscapes lather Emancipator’s new album Dusk to Dawn.
Nowhere is this more true than on the stunning opener Minor Cause. The music begins slowly and builds before blossoming into a fully recognised orchestral, electronic masterpiece. The strings alone make this song worthy of a listen, but Emancipator’s technological prowess transforms Minor Cause into a piece to be reckoned with. Highly recommended.
Download - Minor Cause
A Beautiful Mine (With RJD2)
Aceyalone with RJD2 - A Beautiful Mine
Picture this - the crisp silhouette of a gentleman in his 30’s, dressed in a sharp business suit, falling gracefully into oblivion between the towering high-rises of Madison Avenue.
Fans of AMC’s Mad Men should have little trouble conjuring up such imagery, which goes hand-in-hand with this string-sampling composition by Eddie Hayes and Ramble John Krohn (Aceyalone and RJD2 to you and I).
Hailing from opposite sides of the States (California and Ohio, respectively), the artists collaborated and released Magnificent City in 2006, of which this is the closing track.
The piece is built on a bed of drums and crashing cymbals, but who can forget that hook? For those of you who enjoy following a tune down the rabbit-hole, Enoch Light’s rendition of Autumn Leaves is responsible for those delightful strings. Light himself was also born in Ohio, which nicely brings A Beautiful Mine’s tale full-circle.
This is a wonderful track to wrap yourself in. Do as Don Draper would, and fix yourself a Manhattan while you’re at it.
Jessie Ware - 110%
In the spirit of the garage revival, Jessie Ware’s new track plays with a bouncy bassline and fast percussion. The British songwriter is no stranger the UK electronic scene, having collaborated with SBTRKT and Joker.
Her other work has been compared with Adele in terms of her diva delivery, but I think I’d prefer hearing Jessie Ware continue to broaden her fanbase by exploring garage/dub/trip hop accompaniments, rather than following the all too familiar path of femme pop stardom. No disrespect intended.
Alpha Channel - Taboo Island
Alpha Channel are a Melbourne duo who draw on samples, exotic instrumentation and their vast knowledge of music production software to craft their music.
Taboo Island is a surreal musical odyssey. Listeners are greeted by laid-back tropical guitar riffs, turntable scratches, and spacey psychadelic sound effects. Both producers have been teaching music production for over a decade at Melbourne’s famed JMC Academy and their expertise is palatable.
Somersault (Danger Mouse Remix)
Zero 7 feat. MF Doom
Zero 7 feat. MF Doom - Somersault (Danger Mouse Remix)
This track was featured as an Indie Shuffle song of the day a short while back and I was an instant fan after my first listen.
This track happened to slip past me when it was released in 2004 but thanks to the internet the song doesn’t have to be relegated to obscurity and we can listen to it years later in a place far away from the original recording.
As always MF Doom’s signature raspy raps are packed full of clever metaphors. The guitarwork in the song reminds me of Sunnyroad by Emiliana Torrini. I think this track has the kind of appeal that transcends genre stereotypes and has the appeal to draw in people with different musical tastes.