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The Less You Know, The Better

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iTunes Review

The Less You Know, the Better finds DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) returning to entirely sample-based music. A longtime crate digger, Davis creates beats and mixes from the ground up, snipping samples from LPs and weaving them into dense cut-and-paste works of art. In terms of format, this is comparable to his landmark release Endtroducing…. There’s much to savor here and new things to discover with each listen. Davis uses long samples and recognizable song forms as he genre-hops between classic hip-hop (“Back to Front” and “Stay the Course” featuring Posdnous and Talib Kweli), heavy metal (“Border Crossing”), hard rock (“Warning Call”, “I Gotta Rokk”), folk (“I’ve Been Trying”), techno (“Def Surrounds Us”), and a wistful and unexpected piano ballad that gets two treatments (“Sad and Lonely” and “(Not So) Sad and Lonely”). Trippy vocal snippets, turntable scratching, and moments of sublime ambient beauty are sprinkled throughout, making The Less You Know, The Better an enjoyable if uneven listening experience from this defiantly old-school DJ.

Customer Reviews

Welcome return to form

Very solid release. After what seems like a period in the wilderness for Shadow this is a well put together collection of material. Really like it

Strangely nice

I'm not really sure what to say. Anything is gonna be better than The outsider but nothing will compare to Endtroducing. It's different. It's good. Its melodic. It's got actual songs on it. I always prefer his instrumentals but this is a very good album and if you're a fan you'll buy it regardless. You shouldn't be disappointed. It makes a nice change but I still long for another Endtroducing stylee. One day. Maybe.

A return to form? Hmmmmm...ish

Whenever you have a recording artist who generally takes around 4/5 years per record it's doubly disappointing when they deliver something like the shower of crunk (''This Time' aside) that was 2006's The Outsider. Thankfully this record eskews that illjudged lunge at mainstream rap, being a far more snug fit with the rest of Josh Davis' catalogue and far more listenable as a result. That's not to say it touches the brilliance of 'Endtroducing' or 'Private Press', there's a bit too much filler for that. 'Tedium' does what it says on the tin and 'Enemy Lines' struggles for purpose. That said, you can't keep genius quiet for too long and Shadow still manages to produce show stopping moments such as the wistfully beautiful 'Sad and Lonely' and its equally breath-taking reprise. Beat-Rockers such as 'Back To Front' and (stand out track) 'I Gotta Rock' as well as the early 90s-rave epic 'Def Surrounds Us' will still have you tapping away furiously, regardless of the fact you're on public transport. However, Shadow has always been more than a mere beat-smith and whereas both 'Endtroducing' and 'Private Press' elevated themselves about the works of Q-Bert, Cut Chemist, et al., 'The Less You Know...' feels a little too predictable. What is does do though, is give us a great deal more hope for the next 5 years time.


Born: 1972 in San Jose, CA

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

DJ Shadow's Josh Davis is widely credited as a key figure in developing the experimental instrumental hip-hop style associated with the London-based Mo' Wax label. His early singles for the label, including "In/Flux" and "Lost and Found (S.F.L.)," were all-over-the-map mini-masterpieces combining elements of funk, rock, hip-hop, ambient, jazz, soul, and used-bin finds. Although he'd already done a scattering of original and production work (during 1991-1992 for Hollywood Records) by the time Mo'...
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