Sound and Vision: DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing....."
Our weekly segment, Juxtapoz Sound and Vision, explores a piece of substantial album artwork every Sunday to look at one of the primary ways musicians and visual artists collaborate. Many popular album covers become iconic pieces of pop art, and they're a great excuse for us to share some favorites along with the visual components that make an album memorable.
As someone who came of age in the 1990s, I go back to DJ Shadow's landmark, groundbreaking and highly influential 1996 debut album, Entroducing..... as that ONE album that started it all for me. At the time, DJ culture meant something entirely different than what it means today, and in the mid-1990s, acts like Aphex Twin and Massive Attack and even Mo'Wax records felt like a distant British thing, even though I loved them all. You literally had to go to the record store and find the imports, but they were there, and they were amazing for a 15, 16-year-old kid. Growing up in Northern California, Entroducing..... felt like ... ours. It changed the musical landscape in so many ways. There would be no distinct sound to Radiohead's OK Computer without it, and it ushered a gigantic leap forward in the way sampled production could sound. While paving the way for other bedroom DJs, it also created a sound so lush and seamless that it felt like a greatest hits mixtape more than a one-artist album. But it was all Shadow, all his curiosity and craftsmanship. Nothing has ever quite sounded like it before or after. It solidified underground DJ culture as a major art form and personally led me to the works of Madlib, J Dilla and, to a certain extent, Four Tet and Burial years later. Collage music perfection.
The cover exemplifies "digging in the crates," sparking a search for those hidden gems to mix-in and sample. Shot by B+ with design by Ben Drury, the cover features Solesides crew members Tom Shimura (Asia Born) and Xavier Mosley (Chief Xcel), fellow DJs, looking for records in the basement of the Sacramento vinyl shop...Rare Records. B+ would note he shot the famous cover with a Fuji 617 camera, manual focus, and only shot one roll that day, a blur is so essential that B+ would say he and DJ Shadow believed in the "power of mistakes." The perfect accident, the perfect effect.
Many of us who buy vinyl, Hell many of us who bought used CDs, know that feeling. The search, the solitary-but-with-your-friends quest to get those albums you always had searched for. For my friends, those digs would define our weekends, and the music would define our youth. It was about genre-mashing, just like Shadow's album. I can remember buying DJ Shadow's Entroducing... on the same day I bought some oddball David Bowie greatest hits CD. And I wore those CDs out. Introducing... is the sound of exploration and experimentation, of combining everything you like into one masterful trip-hop sound. Never to be duplicated, it reminds us that looking for that perfect album is a treasure hunt still worth taking. —Evan Pricco