With a new album on the horizon DJ Shadow drops a short, four track EP to get us warmed up for whats ahead. It sparked my interested thanks to its guest features, the legendary Nas of Queensbridge and new blood Danny Brown who both drop strong verses on their respected tracks, the chemistry between Shadow and his featured rappers is an interesting aspect for a reasonable set of Hip Hop instrumentals, with only the closer "Corridors" providing some genuine impressions of notoriety.
"Systematic", possibly a play on Illmatic, has Nas breaking down the self serving nature of the dominant power structure that governs our western society, then using it metaphorically for self affirming rhymes. Shadow deploys a relatively comfortable beat for the 90s era rapper with Boombap beats and a plucked guitar groove that gets expansive in the chorus with a range of colliding laser like samples and upfront vinyl scratching. Its got energy and charisma, its own sound but nothing special. "Horror Show" steps out of the comfort zone to accommodate Brown's persona with off-kilt beats that dizzy with seemingly two overlapping grooves playing off one another. Action effects stack up in the spaces between while evil super villain synths clime the notes to ascension. The tone is slightly manic but I can't help but feel the drum sampling would of benefited from something slicker and modern.
"Good News" feels like an experiment left unfinished, a spasm of drum kicks and snares messing around with time signatures seem to lack any groove. The glitched manipulation of samples may be reminiscent of IGORRR but it has no pzazz. "Corridors" is the albums best as a progressive song that builds up its atmospheric synths to meet a hard thudding bass kick decorated in reversed samples and lavished with layers of noisy sampling that increases in intensity to break into a calm moment that brings us back with a crescendo string section that doesn't really climax the song and then the needle skips, stutters and were out. Interesting listen but very little here to return to.