Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Best Albums of 2012, Edition Five: DJ Shadow

Total Breakdown: Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era, 1992-1996 — DJ Shadow

If you, as I, have spent many a lonely evening staring out on a darkened city, you’ll recognize the value of DJ Shadow’s records. Don’t be fooled by Shadow’s (real name Josh Davis) opening track, “Vee in Detroit”. Just because there’s a funky synth bass sample to kick this record off, that doesn’t mean that the rest of it isn’t for the night.

And, indeed, by the time the sixth track (“Intensely Hitting”) rolls around, this record has settled into the lonely, desolate, and mysterious samples you know and love. Except this wasn’t the mood DJ Shadow knew or loved, because these tracks were all created before he released Endtroducing… in 1996. In many ways, it shows that Shadow hadn’t settled into the role of a mashup artist extraordinaire yet. These are all prototypes and working drafts of a format he would later perfect. They’re great nevertheless. A thoroughly enjoyable album.