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Preemptive Strike

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Album Review

DJ Shadow assembled the singles collection Preemptive Strike as a way for American audiences to catch up on his career prior to his debut album, Endtroducing. The 11-track album contains three new interludes and three complete singles that he released on Mo'Wax — "In/Flux," "What Does Your Soul Look Like," and "High Noon" — and a bonus disc, "Camel Bobsled Race," which is a megamix of DJ Shadow material by DJ Q-Bert. Given that Endtroducing was a masterpiece of subtly shifting texture, Preemptive Strike almost seems purposely incoherent, even though the tracks are sequenced chronologically. The jerky flow can make the album a little difficult to assimilate on first listen, but it soon begins to make sense, even if it never achieves the graceful flow of the album. Several of the selections on Preemptive Strike were available in different forms on Endtroducing — parts four and one of "What Does Your Soul Look Like" are in their original forms here, presented along with one and three, and there's the "extended overhaul" of "Organ Donor." All of these are significantly different than the LP versions, and "What Does Your Soul Look Like" is necessary in its original, half-hour, four-part incarnation. But the key moments are the seminal "In/Flux," which arguably created trip-hop, and "High Noon," the dynamic, fuzz-drenched single that was his first single release since Endtroducing. Those three A-sides are reason enough for any serious fan of the debut to pick up Preemptive Strike, but the B-sides and "Camel Bobsled Race" are equally intriguing, making the package a nice summation of DJ Shadow's most important singles through the end of 1997.


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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