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Album Review: Reconstructed: The Best of DJ Shadow by DJ Shadow
Great, Based on 5 Critics
PopMatters - 80 Based on rating 8/10
“Are you a fan of the album, or the artist?” DJ Shadow once famously asked, referring to the fact that he’s spent the majority of his career living in the shadow of his monumental debut album, Endtroducing… No matter how brilliant or genre defying his follow up releases were, they still failed to capture the same mass attention and critical reception, mostly being labeled as “good, but still not on par with his first album”. Perhaps then that’s what makes this greatest hits compilation not only enjoyable, but nearly essential. You see, Shadow’s studio output since his 1996 debut album has only birthed five official album, and while he has a fairly impressive Discog full of compilation, remix, and live DJ albums, the majority of casual music listeners are only going to be judging based on what they can readily purchase at their nearest retailer.
The concept of the artefact is key to the music DJ Shadow, aka Josh Davis, manipulates, reissues and produces. Be it long-forgotten funk cuts, radio spots, school band LPs, proto-hip-hop cassettes or LPs manufactured (then destroyed) by the Mafia, having a rare recording in one’s hands – and Davis’ ability to source such things – has always been intrinsic to his appeal. He’s sent collectors worldwide into states of apoplexy and caused eBay prices to soar.
Best of compilations are a strange beast. Often cynically released as a cash-grab by a record label to plug the gaps between the release of new material, or as a retrospective once new material has run out, they are an especially weird concept in the days of easy downloads and cheap streaming subscriptions. That said, Reconstructed is more thoughtfully put together than most.
A (mostly) marvellous snapshot of a supreme production talent. Mike Diver 2012 Speaking to BBC Music in October 2011, Josh Davis aka DJ Shadow remarked: “I struggle to understand some people's context when it comes to covering my music.” He’s seen responses to 2006’s The Outsider and 2011’s The Less You Know, the Better vary from faint praise to far worse. “The work of a man struggling to recall his motivations for making music,” said NME of The Less…, awarding it 5/10.