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DJ Shadow

The Private Press (MCA)

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It's been so long since DJ Shadow released his last album, Endtroducing, that most fans are likely looking forward to The Private Press with mixed emotions: equal parts unrestrained joy and fearful suspicion.

Will Shadow have moved on to tinker with new musical formulas, or will Press deliver the well-honed mixture of soulful sampling and pensive hip-hop beats that fans have come to love? The answers to these questions are, curiously, yes -- on both counts. Shadow does play around with some new ideas, most notably on "Right Thing/GDMFSOB," a Plastikman meets Daft Punk electro-jam, and "Monosylabik," a sample-warping slice-and-dice masterpiece reminiscent of Amon Tobin.

Fans looking forward to Endtroducing 2 should be careful what they wish for, however. "Giving Up the Ghost" and "Mongrel Meets His Maker" follow that formula to the letter, constructing meaty instrumental hip-hop narratives out of shimmering guitar, violin, and piano samples. Unfortunately, the feverish wail of careening violins in "Giving" and the screaming psychedelic guitar drone of "Mongrel" suggest impending climaxes that Shadow seems either unable or unwilling to provide.

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