I’m way overdue to provide an update on what I’ve been up to, so here goes.
I commenced work on my 7th solo album on January 1st of 2022. As usual, I didn’t have any preconceived notions or objectives, I just started by making music that made me feel good or satisfied vague objectives in my mind. By mid-March, certain themes began to take shape, and a loose set of personal “rules” decided, which helped me navigate toward a cohesive body of work. Pleased with the progress I had achieved in a relatively brief duration, I then ceased operations for a while to occupy myself with other things so I could revisit the music with fresh ears. It was also around this time that I shared a few rough tracks with my label, Mass Appeal, to gauge enthusiasm. I returned to work for most of April, but then began to divert my energy toward preparation for the European live dates in May and June. The tour was largely enjoyable, and by July I was ready to get back to the album. Work continued unabated until another live show, this time in the US. After a few more starts and stops, I flew to LA and shared even more music with my benefactors. Around September, a few songs were finalized and mixed, and then several more in November and December. Only now, roughly a year in (prolonged work stoppages notwithstanding), do I feel confident confirming that an album will be released this year.
What will it sound like? Well, that’s still to be defined. Here’s what I DO know:
- Unlike my last album (Our Pathetic Age), it will not be a double album, it will be of relatively conventional length.
- As of now, there are fewer guest vocalists than my other contemporary output. This is by design.
- The music reflects my recent experiences and evolving thought processes, both positive and negative.
- It is genre ambiguous.
- There is a unifying premise, which may or may not be obvious to the listener, depending on the extent to which I choose to amplify it.
I’m often fascinated by the moods, or colors, which dominate albums I’ve made. These spiritual frequencies are impossible to predict and unstable to control; I have always believed that paintings paint themselves, and to learn to submit to the uniqueness of every artistic endeavor. Saying that, I hear both joy and anguish in these songs. Even though they are “of me” and from me, I have tried to get out of the way as much as possible. My job is to attempt, through arrangements, melodies, production techniques, and a million small decisions, to eliminate fluff and amplify the emotional resonance for maximum impact on the listener. Whether or not I’m successful is up to us; that is, the opinions of you (the reader) and me. So far, I’m genuinely happy, and that’s all I can ask for. Whether the end result is superior or inferior to other works of mine is unfair for me to quantify at this stage of the process.
Pulling back for a moment in the interest of providing additional context, I will simply say this: the past year has been unlike any other in my life. I find myself at multiple crossroads, both personally and professionally. Relationships I had relied on for years crumbled or are on shaky ground, while others have strengthened. I find the future, and my role in it, harder to visualize than ever before. Is there sufficient demand to be able to tour again? Will there be interest in what I have to offer the world musically? 32 years into a professional career, I honestly have no idea what I represent to whom…perhaps I never have. Yet, I carry on, because at age 50, this is all I know now.
If the album has value to people, I’ll feel it and be grateful. If it doesn’t, I’ll feel that too. When the dust settles, perhaps the murkiness will turn to clarity and a path revealed. If that is to be, then I will take that path willingly and indebtedly.
-DJ Shadow, January 25, 2023