Reconstructed: The Best of DJ Shadow
I’ve liked other things by DJ Shadow but when it comes down to it – it’s about Endtroducing… That is – rightly – the masterwork. The other albums don’t come close; in fact, album-wise it’s been diminishing returns. So I was not only apprehensive about taking on this best-of, I was expecting to be mightily crushed frankly, I thought it was dead in the water as an idea; redundant. I have his Best Of already – it’s called Endtroducing…
But instantly this worked well as a reminder of precisely those other great moments in and around some key pieces from Endtroducing. This works as, well, a reconstruction of the career, the body of work.
And from there it actually not only justified itself – it’s sorta, well, might sound silly to say about a Best Of, but it’s actually pretty much its own masterpiece; it’s so much more than a reminder of some great pieces, it actually makes a case for Shadow as an often near-perfect producer/beat-maker/decision-maker.
His lush late-night grooves, well that’s one thing – but this actually behaves like a proper Best Of, in that I really couldn’t stand Outsider – but take a great track from it, place it in and around other great songs and I’m wowed; won over. That’s what should happen when you’re listening to the best. You should be newly wowed, newly won over – and happily reminded of those past gems. They should sparkle, they should evoke a time and place and sound timeless.
Endtroducing might have been as much a millstone as milestone for DJ Shadow but here he makes his second-best album – and his new best album; showing that, in small (correct) doses he can (and has) done all of the things I thought he couldn’t, like work with guest vocalists, create compelling pop-song ideas, step out from the gimmick of built-from-scratch noir-ish soundscapes.
This compilation has reminded me of the magic of Six Days as a singular piece of music; I’m newly hooked on This Time (a song I, frankly, forgot all about all too quickly), heck Shadow even shows a use for Richard Ashcroft.
No one-album wonder is Josh Davis, but in fact a wizard, a true star.