DJ Shadow: Our Pathetic Age review – Epic album with exceptional collaborations
Our Pathetic Age
Hip-Hop & Rap
DJ Shadow has suggested that this is “a hopeful, vibrant album” for these divisive times. It is a sprawling, epic work, comprising 11 instrumentals, and 12 vocal collaborations.
There are glimpses of dystopia in the creeping synths on Intersectionality, the drone-influenced Juggernaut, the ominous piano on Firestorm, the relentless percussion on My Lonely Room, and the wistful We Are Always Alone – it is wholly cinematic, suggesting an alternative soundtrack to Escape From New York.
However, there is also an elevating buoyancy, Rosie is a “three-part voyage” through Shadow’s evolution, with a soulful sample as its touchstone, matched with a propulsive beat, it shifts into a submerged, yet ethereal space.
The collaborations are exceptional; Drone Warfare with Nas and Pharaohe Monch uses anger constructively, finding its moody twin in C.O.N.F.O.R.M. featuring Gift of the Gab, and some of Wu Tang collaborate for Rain on Snow, which sounds like Stereolab at a rap battle.
Run the Jewels on the gospel-influenced Kings & Queens make it all seem so easy, and the title track with Samuel Herring is sad, brilliant disco that recontextualises his vocal; and as recontextualising is Shadow’s gift, it becomes our gain.