WHO IS HE? The innovative hip-hop/electronica/ambient producer, composer, turntablist, beatmaker and sample master who was born Josh Davis 47 years ago in Northern California, and first found fame with his sample-based debut masterpiece Endtroducing…… in 1996.
WHAT IS THIS? His sixth release and what even he calls “quite possibly the biggest album of my career,” Our Pathetic Age is a 90-minute double-disc magnum opus that features one disc dominated by instrumental-based creations (with occasional vocal samples), and a second set of jams featuring vocals from Nas, De La Soul, a trio of Wu-Tang members, Run the Jewels, Fantastic Negrito, Pusha T and plenty more.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Everything you’ve ever wanted to hear from DJ Shadow. And then some. Over the course of its 26 songs, OPA touches every stylistic and sonic facet of Shadow’s lengthy career: Twitchy electronica glitchscapes, soothing ambient netherworlds, clattery post-bop excursions, old-school hip-hop grooves and more — and even ventures into new terrain with his first orchestral neo-classical piece. Despite its title, however, the album feels more upbeat and optimistic than churlish or critical.
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? The Many Faces of Shadow.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? Patiently — the album lasts longer than some movies, and has more twists and turns to boot.
WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Cinematic, enigmatic, trippy, multi-faceted, colourful, mind-expanding, nocturnal, intricate, imaginative, deep.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The apocalyptic stomp Juggernaut, the nimbly funky Rosie, and the lush Firestorm top the instrumental disc; the thwacking Drone Warfare (featuring Nas and Pharoahe Monch), the propulsive Rocket Fuel (starring De La Soul) and the short, sharp shot Taxin’ (with Dave East) and the smouldering soul of Dark Side of the Heart (featuring Fantastic Negrito) hit the mark on the back half.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘This is better than some artists’ greatest-hits albums.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? Both in terms of quantity and quality, there’s more than enough here to sink your teeth into for the foreseeable future.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A RESTAURANT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? A buffet where every dish is delicious, healthy and totally satisfying.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Based on the amount of bang for your buck, this is a bargain.