Rjd2 gets compared to DJ Shadow a bunch, but that's mostly because Shadow's the only really famous artist doing anything similar. Both create dreamy, instrumental hip-hop-flavored soundscapes out of odds and ends, but while DJ Shadow blows on his dandelion head and lets the seeds scatter where they may, Rjd2 keeps a well-tended garden. Though he skips from genre to genre, dabbling in prog histrionics, orchestral swirls, and snatches of breakbeats, the tracks on his second full-length, Since We Last Spoke (Definitive Jux), consistently borrow familiar structures from rock (verse, chorus, bridge). Power chords abound, along with ripples of flanged-out vocals and sloppy plops of dissonance, but the album keeps up a continuous simmer rather than wear out your ears with sudden outbursts and jarring left turns: he'll slip in a melody in hee-haw harmonica, then repeat it in twinkly black-tie piano, achieving maximum diversity with minimum fussiness. In fact there are only a few whiffs of overripe cheese on the album: on a couple tracks he busts out the waka-waka funk, and on "Making Days Longer" he gets his Moby vocals on. Rjd2 shares this bill with Automato, an animated bunch of New York rascals whose self-titled debut full-length on Coup de Grace (produced by Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy of the DFA) spreads the love with jam-band instrumentation and hip-hop bombast. Automato opens; Diverse plays second. 18+. Wednesday, May 19, 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408 or 866-777-8932.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.