Marking its 20th anniversary, a deluxe reissue of a sampledelia classic.
HOW A COLLEGE CRATE-DIGGER TURNED HIP-HOP INSIDE OUT WITH SAMPLEDELIA.
DJ SHADOW ENDTRODUCING (20TH ANNIVERSARY ENDTROSPECTIVE EDITION) ISLAND, OUT NOW
Like a chilled Californian answer to Rick Rubin, Josh Davis began his trip-hop revolution while still at the University Of California. Like Rubin, he was a young, white hip-hop fanatic, but where the Def Jam co-founder pared early rap down to its raw essentials, Davis threw everything into the mix. He ransacked the basement of his local record store for dusty funk, jazz and soundtrack rarities, slicing them up on his sampler and reassembling the results into free-form experiments, which had their roots in hip-hop yet sounded like something completely new. Initially inspired by East Coast producers such as Gang Starr’s DJ Premier, Davis was also attuned to wider developments in electronic music, not least emerging UK hybrids such as drum’n’bass. It wasn’t so surprising, then, that it was London label Mo’ Wax, run by James Lavelle, which picked up Endtroducing for release in 1996. Similar in spirit to West Coast duo The Dust Brothers, who had worked funkadelic miracles with the Beastie Boys and Beck, Endtroducing also shared DNA with Massive Attack’s dub-infused soundclash and The Chemical Brothers’ block-rockin’ boom. Davis, though, was the first to put it all together in a single package. His Technicolor journey into sound not only forges unexpected musical connections (Björk, meet David Axelrod) but shows a virtuoso feel for rhythm and melody, from the haunting piano riff threaded through Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt, lifted from a 1970 curio by rocker-turned-rabbi Jeremy Storch, to the wild block-party clatter of The Number Song, which borrows its bass drone from Metallica’s Orion. Later comparing himself to a film director rather than a musician, Davis also revels in orchestrating dramatic contrasts and shifts in mood, as when the rolling groove and synthesized vocal of What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 4) morphs into Stem/Long Stem’s eruptions of thrash metal drumming and brilliant recycling of ’ 60s psych band Nirvana. And while head-nodder Midnight In A Perfect World recasts ’ 70s folk-jazz, the second half of Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain echoes the ’ 90s drum’n’bass experiments of LTJ Bukem. Over the years Davis’s sonic tapestry has been picked apart and the rarities he dusted off are now on YouTube. But his forensic methods proved a revelation, helping create a pathway for J Dilla’s instrumental hip-hop, Brainfeeder’s electronic jazz and current abstract beatmakers such as Clams Casino. The latter appears on the patchy remix disc intended to enhance this 20th anniversary issue, with a warped take on Stem/Long Stem. It’s one of the better efforts, alongside Hudson Mohawke’s brilliantly edited Midnight In A Perfect World. Though anyone who already owns the original, let alone 2005’ s two-disc “deluxe” edition, should be in no rush to upgrade; the disc of alternate mixes and demos is the same scattershot selection which accompanied the 2005 release. Even now, the album hasn’t been remastered. But then it’s hard to improve on perfection. It still sounds fantastic. And while Davis himself has made good records since, including 2002’ s The Private Press, he’s never got close to replicating what makes his debut so special. As its ouroboros-like title suggests, Endtroducing remains a dazzling beginning and triumphant finale all its own. RUPERT HOWE Listen To: Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt | The Number Song | Midnight In A Perfect World
HE RANSACKED THE BASEMENT OF HIS LOCAL RECORD STORE FOR DUSTY FUNK, JAZZ AND SOUNDTRACK RARITIES.