DJ Shadow - "The Mountain Will Fall" (Singles Going Steady)

The title track from DJ Shadow's first album in five years is the sound of an old pro showing the kids how it's done.

Chris Ingalls: The title track from DJ Shadow's first album in five years is the sound of an old pro showing the kids how it's done. He does an admirable job of sounding current in a genre that is constantly evolving. The bed of synths that lies under the entire track provides a soothing atmosphere and blends nicely with the loud, jittery beats that swoop in. Spacey keyboard noodling gives the track a lovely, warm sci-fi vibe. Not the best thing DJ Shadow's ever done, but a comforting reminder that he's still with us. [8/10]

Nathanial Schwass: DJ Shadow's new single, "The Mountain Will Fall," features none of the quirky vocal samples or strange, melodic cuts for which DJ Shadow was so highly regarded on his freshman masterpiece Endtroducing, yet "The Mountain Will Fall" shows a surprising deviation in the producer's aesthetic. Nostalgic, 8-bit synths slide to and fro as the listener journeys through the soundscape constructed by Shadow's composition. The percussion on this single is abrasive, yet it meshes nicely with the texture created between the sounds. The visual accompaniment for this single, constructed by Territory Studios, complements the ethereal euphony of Shadow's single. While DJ Shadow makes unprecedented forays into the world of hip-hop and electronic production, the silent protagonist in the video conducts his light-speed odyssey through through the violet darkness of endless space. [7/10]

Pryor Stroud: Since his sublime debut Endtroducing....., DJ Shadow has continuously cemented his name as one of the chief pioneers of sample-driven, instrumental hip-hop. His sound is heterogenous, unpredictable and gleefully intertextual, engorged with sonic splashes and sudden tempo changes that throw you for a loop but a loop that you desperately want to be in -- that you'll return to just for the dizzying spell it casts. Yet "The Mountain Will Fall", the title track from his newest LP, pivots from this kind of hip-hop experimentalism toward a spacier, electronica-influenced sound. It begins with a slowly crystallizing aural swell that seems to scale the mountain from the track's title. Then, an anonymous scream shoots up from nowhere, and Shadow sends you plummeting down this mountain for the remainder of the track's duration, a snowballing agglomeration of percussion, synth squiggles, and sonic oddities right on your tail the whole time. [8/10]

Steve Horowitz: Space music for space people! No wonder the video takes place in the outer regions of the universe. The mountain may fall, but more likely the listener will fall into a trance first. [5/10]

SCORE: 7.00





PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.