A buncha years ago, we went to a tiny movie theater in Hartford to see Dark Days, a deep bummer of a film about people who live in subway tunnels. Shot in a stark black and white, DJ Shadow provided the soundtrack, the quintessential visual medium for his music then, pinpointing a forever free falling definition of moody. Shadow has spent his career shuffling from DJ hero to sad song painter, never shifting the weight of import between the technical concerns of most perfect drums and the most perfect way to illustrate the ambient desire of te the damp emotions of a clearly heavy brain. With new track, “Def Surrounds Us,” from his upcoming, as yet untitled 2011 album, he finds a fresher bedfellow for this tricky balance in the future sounds of dubstep paired with the low squelch of, we have to say, Salem. He’s got the same obsession with throwaway drums, junky trills and machine gun hi-hats as though he’s found himself allergic to the crispness of much of Entroducing‘s backbeat. Though the track evolves out of its initial brutishness with a tangy guitar, that it began with such a nod to the rawest of his now peers, who most likely were brought up on his music, is a kind acknowledgment of the constant change of electronic music. “I’ve Been Trying,” a somber, acoustic based track with flute and colonial snare, is so far in the other direction that it sounds like it may have been lifted wholesale from an unknown San Francisco folk record from 1973. Two ends pushing against the middle: the DJ Shadow of the future. Stream both tracks below in full for the next 24 hours and grab them for keeps over at djshadow.com.
DJ Shadow, “Def Surrounds Us”
DJ Shadow, “I’ve Been Trying”