DJ Shadow The Less You Know, the Better

DJ Shadow The Less You Know, the Better
DJ Shadow built his reputation on his skill at manipulating samples into beautifully detailed instrumentals that build and change, which also happen to contain the crispest, cleanest and downright dopest drum tracks in sampled music. Nothing has changed in that regard for Shadow's fourth full-length, The Less You Know, the Better. The album starts off well enough with "Back to Front (Circular Logic)," a fun, constantly morphing hip-hop instrumental that turns out to be exactly what you would want DJ Shadow to open with. He follows that with rap-metal mash-up "Border Crossing" and then "Stay the Course," a pretty straightforward '90s-style throwback track featuring Posdnuos and Talib Kweli (but damn that flute and those whistling cuts are catchy!). And then it all goes to hell as Shadow unveils folktronica on the next two songs and allows Tom Vek to Brit-pop up what could have been an otherwise exciting indie rock song. After a couple of slower hip-hop instrumentals, the midpoint is marked by a short, but obnoxious, interlude, followed by yet more folktronica with un-credited vocals, another metal-influenced hip-hop beat, a terrible spoken word piece, a standout, jazzy p-funk jam ("Run For Your Life"), a few more hip-hop/electronic instrumentals and amongst the bonus tracks for the deluxe edition, a bit of jungle by way of previous single "Def Surrounds Us." The Less You Know, the Better sounds more like DJ Shadow compiled a mixtape collection of his influences (or at best, tried to imitate them) rather than create a cohesive album combining those influences into a pleasing whole. I'd rather listen to his hyphy album, The Outsider. (Verve)