DJ Shadow | The Less You Know, The Better

Verve (2011)
By DAN WEISS  |  October 5, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars

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Bias alert: 1996's Endtroducing . . . DJ Shadow is one of the most firmly enduring perpetual motion machines in all of musical history, defying genre ("What was trip-hop, dad?") and all preconceived notions regarding an hour filled with turntablism, spoken word, and Metallica samples. The beautiful and deeply-textured "world's first entirely sampled album" (we won't tell Guinness about Lyrics Born's "It's the money" cameo) was instantly both dated and timeless. Six years later, The Private Press was as excellent as an arena-rock version could be, but four years wasn't a long-enough incubation for The Outsider, which made hyphy unfun. So the big question with The Less You Know . . is if five years is long enough to create a Shadow album. The answer is: maybe. Shadow's densest and longest work at first sounds like an overstylized, underwritten retread with lots of superfluous cuts sporting names like "Tedium." But it eventually rewards hard listening: the audacious opening one-two of "Back to Front" and "Border Crossing," the Little Dragon-assisted "Scale It Back," and the maddeningly buried comedy of "Circular Logic" and "Give Me Back the Nights." Worth parsing, just not sure how much.
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