Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

DJ Shadow: Endtroducing . . . DJ Shadow [Mo Wax/FFFR, 1996]
Armed with a sampler, a sequencer, and the black plastic he gave up trying to catalogue in 1989, 24-year-old Josh Davis of Davis, California and London, England distills everything he loves about drumbeats, symph-schlock, and oddball Americana into a 63-minute work with a beginning, a middle, and a to-be-continued. Some under a minute, some over nine, the 13 tracks are designed for headphones--Apollonian even if beat-driven, their only vocals spoken-word and comedy samples that accrue a mysterious fascination without ever revealing their relevance to each other or anything else. Except, that is, for the 30-second intro to the six-minute "Building Steam With a Grain of Salt," in which a square, self-taught drummer explains himself as a reassuring crackle attests to his vinyl authenticity down in the mix: "I'd like to just continue to be able to express myself as best as I can. And I feel like I'm a student of the drums. And I'm also a teacher." And then he chuckles nervously. And then Davis loops that chuckle for a second or two, making of it music and chaos and satire and self-mockery and music all at once. A+