Review

DJ Shadow

Action Adventure

Mass Appeal • 2023

It’s a thankless task to have to pursue your artistic career with as much drive and inspiration as possible when you’ve already delivered a masterpiece with your debut. »Endtroducing« is now almost 30 years old, and DJ Shadow has maintained his status as a sampling revolutionary ever since. When his seventh album, Action Adventure, is ultimately released, it will probably be greeted with little enthusiasm or even hype. That’s a bit unfair, since Josh Davis is and remains one of the most accomplished beatmakers around, yet even this reviewer can’t really get away from the fact. Eschewing rap altogether, Davis relies on synth-drenched instrumentals, surprisingly few hip-hop-influenced programmed drums and, of course, cleverly chosen samples on the 14 tracks, which range from 1970s hard rock (on »Free For All«) to 1980s folk (»All My«) to 1990s R&B on »You Played Me«. In other words, a lot is tried out, nostalgia triggers and ambient textures are worked in, warmth and plenty of variety are infused into the production. The fact that Action Adventure is unlikely to leave a lasting impression has less to do with the quality of the album than with musical developments over the last 30 years.