Wire December 1994
Issue 130. December 1994
DJ Shadow is featured across two pages of the December 1994 issue of the magazine Wire, also known as The Wire.
"I was told that "Influx" was a combination of Ambient and HipHop. But at that point I hadn't heard an Ambient song, so how can that be?" "Influx" was the first UK transmission from the San Francisco mixologist DJ Shadow. Released earlier this year on the MOWax label, it was a mesmerising 13 minute tour through labyrinthine breakbeats and disembodied dialogue, which covered its trail with a succession of false endings and dubbed-out signals. The track was an autonomous tribute to jazziness, minus the lip service, razzamatazz and self-conscious Blue Note samples that afflict so much UK jazz HipHop. "Influx" has bee claimed as a defining moment for TripHop, that mutant strain of HipHop that, at its best, valorises the music's capacity for psychodrama and sonic disorientation over gangsta lyrics and macho posturing. But Shadow distances himself from the hvsterical amount of cove;age by the TripHop tag. For instance, h k enthuses about his mixing work for the 'straight' HipHop group Blackalicious on their recent MOWax album Melodica. "We just did a show supporting A Tribe Called Quest. There was no space suits, lasers or crystal balls floating around."
Shadow came to HipHop relatively late. "I wish I could say I was into The Sugarhill Gang but I didn't get it then. For me, [Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's 1982 track] "The Message" was revolutionary." He says he soon became "fascinated with the music because of the edits and scratches", a fascination which paralleled his interest in "sound and sound effects, sci-fi films and cartoons", and which still informs his penchant for "an overall effect, where words don't matter". ( A t one point he says, "Good as Jeru The Damaja's The Sun Rises In The East is, I think it's a good example of great music being weighed down by its subject matter.")
Shadow perfected his liking for salvaged soundbites, jump-cuts and scratch dementia on West Coast radio and a four track home studio, and he cites Star Wars composer John Williams as being as big an influence as Gang Starr's DJ Premier. The estranged mood of "Lost And Found", the follow up to "Influx", is more reminiscent of his favourite films, 2001 and Brazil, than a rap soundtrack. Its open-ended spaces and mad narrative sound like a warped collision of Acid rock and deep funk, with the spirit of The Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes in attendance.
January will see the release of Shadow's epic, 35 minute single "What I Does His Soul Look Like?". The track pushes his taste for the abnormal to even weirder hights, a process which he sees as a natural evolutionary change for HipHop. With square pegs such as Shadow, Tricky, Earthling and New Kingdom on the case, the future of HipHop seems joyously destabilised.
K Martin "Lost And Found" is out now on Mo Wax