March 29, 2019

Retrospective Review: DJ Shadow - Live in Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen

DJ Shadow - Live in Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen Review

DJ Shadow - Live in Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen Review

Performing live in 2017 at a sold out show in Manchester, England, DJ Shadow produced his first live album in nearly a decade, and showed growth in areas of his original music to great effect. I personally was left in the dark regarding the existence of this masterful mix of music, but I am so glad to have discovered it. 

I normally keep track of DJ Shadow's studio productions, having played his latest full length, The Mountain Will Fall, from 2016, multiple times through and blasting his hypnotic, eccentric beats in my car system and headphones. Upon realizing that he has since produced a follow up EP titled The Mountain Has Fallen and a live concert CD/DVD combo of the same name, I had to jump on my own personal journey through it and subsequent analysis. 

The Mountain Has Fallen is unlike any other live DJ concert I have ever heard, specifically because it is a colorful combination of a quarter century of original music produced and released by the prolific drummer and turntablist DJ, also known as Joshua Davis. He is known for having the world's largest collection of over 60,000 records in an underground bunker. His live show features frenetic record scratching with a recognizable blend of vocal samples, synth melodies, and drum loops cherrypicked from multiple popular hits and sleepers throughout his career. Because of this, not one song on this record sounds like their original incarnation: they are all named with shared words from his previous hits, and made to be experienced new again, but for any previous DJ Shadow fan, it is an extremely pleasing mix wherein multiple portions of his mix are easily recognizable, which then warp and bend to his will and manipulation of sound. 

"Transmission Mountain" opens with an introspective series of sound effects and transmission samples from earlier albums, and floats into his heady, space-hop opening track from his latest studio album. It leads into a kaleidoscopic collage, as I mentioned before, of The Mountain Will Fall accented tracks, that never cease to amaze and astound any newcomers to his music, and impress longtime faithful fans of his work. Some of his best tracks include the EDM heavy breakdown of "Suicide Posse" as it transforms into the soft melancholy of one of his most well-known tracks, "Midnight In A Perfect World", and the hip-hop heavy "Nobody Steam", as it jumps from his latest hip-hop collaborative hit with Run The Jewels right into his very first hit which put him on the map, "Building Steam with A Grain of Salt". 

His technical prowess has only improved beyond imagination in this latest live offering, which was released last June of 2018. It will be remembered as easily his best live re-imagining to date and an essential piece in the his artistic journey. To anyone interesting in hearing a forward pushing electronic artist move through their history of hits in a mind blowing DJ format, you need to look no further than DJ Shadow. 

Live in Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen - 8.75/10

Recommended Tracks: Suicide Posse, Nobody Steam, Sideshow Donor