Every so often, someone somewhere pens an essay on the death of classical music. But perhaps those writers wouldn’t be so concerned if they heard The Private Press. The belated sequel to DJ Shadow’s (a.k.a. Josh Davis) ravishing 1996 ”Endtroducing…” might strike some as a little familiar given all that’s followed, from DJ compilations to mash-ups. Once again, Shadow constructs hip-hoppy sound collages by cutting and pasting samples of songs, dialogue, scratches, effects, and other aural flotsam he lifts from old LPs. Yet, as heard on the heavy clomping of ”Fixed Income” and ”You Can’t Go Home Again” (which steals a lick from ”El Condor Pasa”), few approach this style of record making with as much playfulness and gravity.
On tracks like ”Giving Up the Ghost,” Shadow’s constructs don’t recall Grandmaster Flash’s as much as they do those of modern composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Hypnotic minimalism gradually broadens into hurricanes of cacophonous beauty. When Shadow incorporates a bit of ’80s synth-pop here or industrial grind there, he’s like a conductor waving in new instrumentalists with the flick of his wrist. It’s telling that the cuts on which Shadow uses singers are less singular. Let the other DJs aim for crossover success; Shadow should stick with his mighty fanfares for the common homeboy.