DJ Shadow | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

DJ Shadow 

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In the six years since Josh Davis, aka DJ Shadow, released the all-sample symphony Endtroducing...(Mo'Wax/London), the idea of DJ as auteur has been embraced by DJs and the music-consuming public alike. Yet in all that time no one has been able to match the ambition and grandeur of that moody, cinematic bricolage. It was inevitable that Shadow's new full-length, The Private Press (MCA), would disappoint--it ain't easy to follow a paradigm shifter, plus the structures are more direct and explicitly songlike this time out, which works but seems somehow less revolutionary. Some tracks retain a clear connection to hip-hop, with stealthy breaks meticulously programmed from single-beat samples; "Walkie Talkie" is a scratchfest and "Giving Up the Ghost" flows a gentle stream of guitar, harp, and organ ostinatos over a thunderous shape-shifting beat. But Shadow has always been the world's most obsessive crate digger (the album's title refers to an old technology that enabled anyone to cut their own one-off records, and the first and last tracks sample some of those ultrarare grooves), and thanks to his choices here other tracks end up with a strong rock feel: the beautiful "Six Days" marries an extended vocal bit from an early-70s band called Colonel Bagshot to a rhythm program that includes complex brushwork, a recurring vibrato guitar lick, and an analog synth solo. Less interesting is "You Can't Go Home Again," which revolves around a generic new-wave guitar riff and scatters spacey synth sounds over the peripatetic groove. Antipop Consortium opens. Thursday, June 6, 9 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212.

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