DJ Shadow: Total Breakdown – Hidden Transmissions from the MPC Era 1992 -1996
Harkening back to the original days of his Success, DJ Shadow’s latest album is twenty-seven tracks of rare cuts, concepts that were not fully fleshed out and so discarded from his original ground-breaking album, Endtropy. The longest track is 6+ minutes, the shortest is 25 seconds.
Split between classic sounds, funky beats, and drum & bass, the album encapsulates Shadow’s breakout period.
The first track is what this pioneer of the West Coast DJ scene became famous for and is even called “Intropy” to give a nod to Endtropy.
I was personally pleased to hear outro “Up for Grabs” and recognize the original sample that Shadow associates and fellow Soul Sides/Quannum artists, Blackalicous looted for their sick as hell Nia album.
But in truth the meat of this album is just sweet, funky coolin’ out. With tracks like “Don’t Try It,” “Movin’ On,” and “Mellow But Chunky,” Shadow’s love of old school funk and soul influenced his original style.
Hidden Transmissions has some sweet, cool-out tracks as well, “Swimming Upstream” and “Affectations” come to mind as distinctly Shadow. These tracks are something to throw on the headphones and just enjoy while doing something else or nothing at all. Oddly, I had forgotten how much drum & bass, as well as other proto-rave genres, were represented during this period.
“Dreams of a Piece” gets the award for favorite track title as well as most jazzy d&b on the album. Check out “Fast Rap Fanfare” for the quickest ish you’ve heard in a while and “Intensely Hitting” has to have been part of some sort of sub-genre called gospel drum & bass.
If you like Shadow, or ’90s DJ tricks, samples, and styles, definitely check this one out.