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DJ Shadow

Endtroducing... (Island)

Re-releasing an album that's less than a decade old -- and bundling it with bonus tracks -- means that, somewhere, a record executive smells a trend re-emerging. Enter the double-disc reissue of Endtroducing..., DJ Shadow's legendary 1996 debut. The downtempo/trip-hop electronic movement that Shadow helped popularize in the '90s is coming back in a big way, with "chill out" discs charting and smooth jazz stations making room for Massive Attack on the radio. Whether or not the trend pans out, it's great to be reminded of Entroducing..., which mixed jarring drums with sweet but menacing melodies. Moments into "Best Foot Forward," the opening track, it's startling how fresh Shadow still sounds. And once the classic rhythms-and-keys masterpiece "Organ Donor" ramps up, it's easy to see why so many people tried -- and mostly failed -- to follow in his footsteps.

Odd Nosdam's work doesn't, on the surface, sound that much like Shadow's. The underground hip-hop producer -- who made his name on the lovely, if sometimes maddening, Clouddead albums -- borrows from shoegazer drones, dub and even Boards of Canada on his solo debut, Burner. But in many ways Nosdam is Shadow's successor: Both go slow and heavy -- a rare hip-hop combo -- and know washes of sound can be just as poignant as razor-sharp notes. Nosdam has a few too many noisy, unstructured periods on the record. But when he pulls together a true song (as on "11th Ave Freakout Pt 2," featuring Mike Patton, or "Untitled 3"), it's sure to be strangely beautiful.

The trip-hop comeback will probably focus more on car ads and bars that sell mojitos. But put together a mix CD that links Shadow and Nosdam along with some of their cohorts, and you'll see that the revival of downtempo could be worthwhile.

 
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