Alibi V.25 No.29 • July 21-27, 2016 

Aural Fixation

The Summer of DJ Comebacks

New releases from the Avalanches, DJ Shadow and Justice

Justice
Justice
When a musician is on hiatus for long enough, some fans lose hope of ever hearing new material from them again. But over the past month, several DJs that many of us expected were on unofficial retirement have released new records, proving that there’s always room for optimism.

After much teasing and single-releasing, the Australian DJ group the Avalanches released their sophomore album Wildflower on July 1, their first in 16 years (besides a few remixes and live sets). Since I Left You, their 2000 debut album, was a much-played masterpiece of sampling that earned the group multiple awards and a dedicated fanbase.

With their new album, the Avalanches have dug up a whole new set of obscure vinyl vocal samples and stitched them together with danceable beats. The first single from the new album, “Frankie Sinatra,” features old calypso vocals and nostalgia-drenched record skipping, as well as rapping from Danny Brown and MF Doom, who delivers one of the single best lines I’ve heard in my sweet young life: “We can keep it irie, or we can keep it irate.” “Subways” could be straight off Since I Left You, a funky, bass-driven track with a groovy ‘70s-sounding vocal sample.

DJ Shadow, another turntable veteran who’s kept a pretty low profile since his 2011 LP, The Less You Know, The Better, also came out with a new joint. On June 24 he released The Mountain Will Fall, with features appearances by artists as disparate as Run the Jewels and the German composer/producer Nils Frahm. On TMWF, Shadow has strayed from his classic sound composed mostly of samples, and has gone in a more electronic, ambient route. On the title track, for example, spacey strings suddenly burst into handclap beats and pitch-bent synthesizer noodling.

It’s been a pretty rough summer by most metrics, but at least we’ve got some good new tunes to spin and dancing isn’t outlawed (yet).

The track with Run the Jewels, “Nobody Speak,” features some of the grossest, most in-your-face lyrics from the rap duo, but still manages to sound classy thanks to some brass and guitar samples from Shadow. In the past DJ Shadow has been accused of lingering in old-school, vinyl-junkie sounds, but in June he told Spin that “I feel more in touch with contemporary music now than I ever have.”

Just last week, we got a new track from Justice. The French DJ duowhose debut album Cross was some of the most danceable music I’ve ever heardreleased “Safe and Sound” on July 13, a six-minute affair that features children’s choir singing and plenty of the same bass-slapping micro-samples that are sprinkled all over Cross. Their sophomore album, Audio, Video, Disco was generally agreed to be a bit of a disappointment after Cross, but this new track seems to signal a return to form for the group. According to a tweet from Because Music, an independent French record label, Justice has signed a new contract with them and “new adventures” are in store. While it’s likely that they won’t release anything quite as awesome as their ode to Michael Jackson, “D.A.N.C.E.,” a new album from Justice would certainly be a light in these dark times. Fingers crossed.

It’s been a pretty rough summer by most metrics, but at least we’ve got some good new tunes to spin and dancing isn’t outlawed (yet).

DJ Shadow: The Mountain Will Fall