DJ Shadow is perhaps the most innovative musician of the latest decade, at least of those, who received relatively noticable attention. With his debut, "Endtroducing", he created a whole new genre of instrumental hip-hop music entirely made of samples. His rare talent and attention to details ensured that even now "Endtroducing" stands as a template for such music, and nobody succeeded in getting anywhere close to it. Following such a success often proves impossible for artists. Did Shadow manage to do it?
On "Private Press" Shadow leaves that specific retro-feel of "Endtroducing" behind him, and goes for a modern sound. It results into more variety to tracks, and even addition of a vocal part in a couple of them. He strays further away from hip-hop and funky rhythms of his debut, successfully adding a touch of rock, and electronica beats. DJ Shadow tries to create an aural adventure, a sonic movie of sorts, and I'd say the results are fairly good. Spoken samples add to the "adventure feel".
But on the down side of this variety, this record doesn't sound as consistent as the debut, because not all the ideas really work. To me, personally, the addition of a singer is a very questionable novelty (it's what killed the creativity in Chemical Brothers). While Shadow manages to pull it with taste, the tracks "Walkie Talkie" and "Six Days" are not equal to the rest of the album. And somehow they spoil the flow of the musical adventure. Other than this relatively small gripe, the album is very good. It's great to see Shadow is still as creative and perfectionistic musician, as he proved he was in 1996. I'm looking forward to hearing more from him in future.