DJ Shadow: Action Adventure (Mass Appeal/Liquid Amber) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 21st, 2024  

DJ Shadow

Action Adventure

Mass Appeal/Liquid Amber

Nov 08, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

DJ Shadow has raided his vinyl crates and tape collection to craft this collection of 14 new tracks that don’t feature any collaborators. At least partially inspired by the glory days of video rental shops, that inspiration can be heard throughout Action Adventure. The eight-minute “Time and Space” sounds like one of the John Carpenter-esque synthwave artists who mimic ’80s action and horror scores, which isn’t exceptionally hard to find in the genre’s post-Stranger Things boom. (“A Narrow Escape” and “Friend or Foe” fall into the same boat.) Large swaths of Action Adventure feel surprisingly straightforward, and lack the complexity found in his best tracks. These come off more like demos than the multi-layered, atmospheric compositions we expect from this artist.

Compare those cuts to album highlight “Witches Vs. Warlocks,” which hits a similar vibe but does it with so much more flare. That song shifts and weaves, threading spooky vocal loops together with synths which sneak out of nowhere just before the groove is suddenly yanked out from under the listener, like the trap door beneath a gallows. Single “You Played Me” sounds like an R&B station broadcasting from another dimension: funky, but just a little frightening. That slides right into the absolutely wild “Free For All,” with its herky-jerky rockabilly riff and sounds of shattering glass. There are a handful of these thrilling sidewinders that only DJ Shadow can deliver this well. It’s unfortunate that they’re so few and far between. For a record titled Action Adventure, it’s surprisingly short on excitement. (

Author rating: 4.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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