[10 August 2010]
Opening with a collage of extracted DJ Shadow shout-outs in a one minute piece of “propaganda”, The DJ Shadow Remix Project quite clearly announces who’s world the listener is about to enter. Showcased within the rest of the 17-track compilation are a variety of Shadow’s atmospheric and hip-hop productions remixed by his community of fans. Most of these remixes lurk in the shadows of the source material; they retain the structure and are not so startlingly removed they throw the listener from the loop. This works to the compilation’s advantage as the most recognizable of Shadow’s songs take on new forms, yet sound eerily familiarly to his own.
The first full song, “Building Steam (NiT GriT Mix)”, takes the original haunted production and cuts it up with a little electro fuzz. It’s followed by Blank Image’s remix of “Stem”, where he gives the disturbing violin a breakbeat edge. These re-workings rejuvenate a couple of tracks almost 15 years old. They may never replace the originals, but hopefully will entice future generations to embrace the classic Endtroducing… album. I certainly had to dig that album up in order to figure out the changes going on.
The next tracks, “Walkie Talkie (Irn Mnky “Beat Down” Mix)” and “What Does Your Soul Look Like? Part 2 (economics Version)”, also forced me to re-listen to the eight-year-old originals in order to determine the changes and retain the essence of Shadow. The back and forth between old and new material becomes interesting as new layers in the productions are unearthed even after all this time.
Sonotech’s futuristic remix of “Mongrel Meets His Maker” marks the beginning of a brief lull. His introduction of sonic bleeps and beats sound quite disparate from the lo-fi original, and diverts the listener from enjoying either. “Halfway Home (Awkward Mix)” is percussion heavy and drags on too long.
Fortunately, Sovereign Universalist rescues the audience with his “Shadow Megamix”, returning to Shadow’s world with frantic scratching and snippets from “Organ Donor” and “Giving up the Ghost”. A sense of urgency comes when revisiting “Building Steam” on the Ruby My Dear Mix as it still retains the darkness, but speeds up the tempo. The final track, “Stem (Le Courtier Version)”, shares a disembodied voice calmly suggesting, “panic is in the air”. With this revisiting, the compilation concludes with the sense that something sinister is lurking in the dark; the feeling of which is one Endtroducing can still instill today.
An additional unexpected bonus is the inclusion of a couple bonus tracks on the digital download. Tiger Mendoza’s mashup of Everything but the Girl’s “Missing” with Shadow’s “Mashin on the Motorway” flows well as the piano’s deliberate moodiness carries Thorn’s vocals along.
Since The DJ Shadow Remix Project is only available free with another purchase (and for a limited time) via DJ Shadow’s website, this is as good a time as any to pick up one of his albums, live mixes or anything else, and give yourself a refresher before diving into this cool compilation. Aside from a small lull around the middle, the release’s inherent strength lies in its reanimation of Shadow’s sound, a world heard from too infrequently.