Exit Music Review SectionMusic Review Navigation Menu

(Def Jux)


Although I listen to a lot of music that I feel is fun and exciting, in the past few years I've sort of drifted away from music which on the surface is obviously so, simply because so much of it has gotten so damn dumb these days. There was awhile there while I enjoyed the heck out of artists like The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, but their formulas grew tired to me over time and I found myself relying more on the pranksters like Kid 606 and others to deliver my cheap thrills.

Fortunately, I've discovered RJD2 recently (thanks to a lot of recommendations from readers of the site), and I must say that I haven't heard an album so head-bopping good in quite some time (or at least since the recent Out Hud disc). Like a slightly more rollicking brother to DJ Shadow (whom I've heard RJD2 compared to on more than one ocassion), Deadringer is a more obviously buoyant record than the moodier Shadow releases, but it's not all 'throw your hands in the air' either, as it reveals a sophisticated feel on many tracks that do remind me of Entroducing...

Wasting no time getting started, the album busts loose with the opening track of "The Horror" and doesn't look back from there. Layered with old movie samples and some squirrely keyboards (plus the requisite huge beat), the track kicks things off with a bang before the pure sample interlude of "Salud." The third track of "Smoke And Mirrors" is actually one of the album tracks that shows off a more subtle side to the album. Although it still rumbles along with a great beat, the sampled-singer vocals give the track a soulful feel and a nicely-needed break from the onslaught of the more obvious bustin' loose tracks (like "Good Times Roll Pt.2," which follows it up directly).

To be honest, there's nary a weak track on the album, which is saying something for a debut. "Ghostwriter" rolls with sort of a giddy-up cowboy feel that kicks out some serious jams when the horn chorus comes in, while "Chicken-Bone Circuit" mixes together the haunting, dreary samples and rumbling drums that made the aforementioned Entroducing... such a breakthrough disc. In the years since that release, there have been numerous artists trying to replicate the formula, but I'd have to give the "closest without being redundant while still forging new ground" award to RJD2. Plus, I've got to give mad props to him simply for cutting up a sample of Steve Reich's amazing Music For 18 Musicians and turning it into something new on the excellent "The Proxy" (although I don't see any sample credits in the liner notes...).

If I have one complaint with the disc, it's that tracks with actual MC's actually kind of break the flow of the disc. That might sound like a somewhat silly statement and complaint, but given the construction of the disc, they simply doesn't feel quite right to me. It's nothing against the tracks themselves, as I enjoy them, but sitting next to dusty old-time record sources and other obscure samples, they simply break the aura of the of the release a bit in my opinion. Still, that's a small qualm about a highly enjoyable release.

Rating: 8.25