Always-A-Pleasure features Classic Reviews; of albums that never fail to amaze.
Released in 1996, dedicated crate digger Joshua Davis, or DJ Shadow, debuts with the revolutionary and wide-impacting album Endtroducing.
Record store digging, as pictured by William and Barney Bankhead for the album artwork, has been the process adopted and embraced by Davis to generate his debut landmark album. As any great piece of work ranging from design to literary oeuvres, the foundational aspect to its greatness is definitely research, research and research. Research in such context of music-making by Davis was by going through tons of records, drawing samples from them and re-inventing into his own interpretation of hip-hop.
It has been widely brought about that this album was the game-changer, or to the least a significant precursor, for the instrumental and experimental hip-hop of today. In our perspective, west coast producer and DJ Shadow wasn’t quite ‘the initial game-changer’ or the first-mover in such technique of sampling and re-invention.
This method of production could be retraced to 1991, with the debut release of the Bristol-based band Massive Attack.
On the title-track blue lines, those guys sampled and rapped on Tom Scott’s 1974 ‘Sneakin in the Back’, a jazz piece, fused with The Blackbyrds’ ‘Rock Creek Park’; all re-invented into a damn sleek British trip-hop classic.
Nevertheless, Shadow sure brought the sampling technique to a next level by using an unending list of samples throughout this album providing an all-instrumental work with challenging track-lengths of 5-9mins; and now held as popular music’s first entirely sample-based album. He also was the first in providing an environment for ambience to exist and harmonise along with hip-hop that much; and that even after 23 years since its release, this album sounds a fresh as a morning breeze.
Among the extensive samples used; On ’Building Steam with a Grain of Salt’ the piano structure is taken from the intro of Jeremy Storch’s 1970 ‘I Feel a New Shadow’, the drum structure from Frankie Seay and the Soul Riders’ ‘Soul Food’ and a sweet mid positioned guitar riff playing from H.P. Riot’s ‘I Need You’. Shadow also includes voice samples, including Terry McGovern’s interview of George Marsh and Mort Garson’s words on ‘Planetary Motivations’.
This track features a typical hip hop movement when it comes to the beats, nevertheless, the looped piano notes gives and evokes an eery yet peaceful headspace.
‘Midnight in a Perfect World’ notably features chops and loops from ‘The Human Abstract’ by David Axelrod, where Shadow takes a lightweight dose of the piano movements and soothing synths from ‘Sekoilu Seestyy’ by Finnish multi-instrumentalist Pekka Pohjola. Shadow gave the colour of an airy atmosphere painted with an enchanting humming and slow rhythms in this particular piece.
The dazzling bright side to this album are not only the tracks featured, but the amount of tunes we can discover by following the trails to those source materials, and Endtroducing hell contains an amount of those.