DJ Shadow | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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DJ Shadow's brand-new disc, The Outsider (Universal Motown), might be the most incoherent album of the year, but it's also a huge paradigm shift for the pioneering turntablist. Instead of drawing from his massive record collection and constructing tracks exclusively from samples, he's brought in other musicians to flesh out his ideas. He sticks to his hip-hop roots for nearly half the album: "3 Freaks" (with MCs Keak Da Sneak and Turf Talk) and "Turf Dancin'" (with the Federation and Animaniaks) invoke the "hyphy" style of his Bay Area stomping grounds, matching hyperactive programmed beats with bleeping, rubbery synths, and on "Seein' Thangs" fierce Mississippi MC David Banner delivers a bitter riposte to the Bush administration's response to Katrina. But things get weird when Shadow changes gears: former Tom Waits guitarist Joe Gore plays a meditative post-Hendrix interlude on "Broken Levee Blues," the instrumental "Artifact" is a full-throttle quasi-hardcore track, and Charalambides singer Christina Carter offers some drifting spoken-word on the folk-flavored "What Have I Done." Not all of it works--the alt-rock tracks prove only that Shadow can make bland Britpop too--and overall The Outsider feels like a step back from the focused, perfectionist approach of his earlier work. But it also maps out an intriguing variety of routes he might take in the future. Lateef the Truth Speaker opens. a 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $30. A

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