Music review: DJ Shadow, SWG3, Glasgow

WHEN the vinyl swipes and cuts under DJ Shadow’s needle, there’s a certain retro timelessness to it. Like an enthusiastically-played guitar solo, a DJ scratching a record on a turntable will never go completely out of fashion, yet in these times of ever-greater levels of electronic production in music, there’s an anachronism to the sound.

DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) helped time stand still during his set. Picture: Agencia Efe/Shutterstock
DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) helped time stand still during his set. Picture: Agencia Efe/Shutterstock

DJ Shadow, SWG3, Glasgow ****

When Josh Davis announced his intention to take us to 1994 with a furiously impressive display of vinyl manipulation, aided by the sound of the then-ubiquitous Funky Drummer break, we slipped back in time as his roots began to show. With his 1996 debut album as DJ Shadow Endtroducing… the Californian became a guru-like figure to a generation of music fans already in thrall to his twin loves of hip hop and ambient, soundtrack-ready electronica.

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With Davis alone onstage at the end of SWG3’s crammed warehouse space, save for a bank of decks and equipment, and Ben Stokes’ stunning backdrop visuals – which featured strobing text, a whooshing rotoscope effect, and organic patterns which seemed to grow out into the ceiling and walls – he fused six albums and nearly two-and-a-half decades of sonic exploration beautifully in a manner which both paid homage to his past and pulled it into the present.

The softness of his spoken introductions, as though he were presenting a classical concerto to us, was offset by the rattling crunch of his electro and trap-influenced beats. Voices old and new swam in and out of his arrangements; the Verve’s Richard Ashcroft on the haunting Lonely Soul; the upbeat Colonel Bagshot sample on Six Days; current US rap saviours Run the Jewels on Kings & Queens and Nobody Speak, and their forerunners De La Soul on Rocket Fuel. The effect was more like witnessing time standing still than being stranded in the past.

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