DJ Shadow * Cut Chemist: Product Placement on Tour
Label: Pillage Roadshow Productions
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Torch bearers for the vinyl standard of the underground, DJ's Shadow and
Cut Chemist are Olympic caliber turntablists who always seem to come up
with gold medal performances. Individually their accomplishments rank
high - as an artist and producer Shadow dates from the founding days of
Solesides Records to it's rebirth as Quannum, as well as having success
as an esoteric and soulful artist on unique solo albums like
"The Private Press." Cut Chemist
is best known for his work in the groups Ozomatli and Jurassic 5,
especially the unique live performances he and DJ Nu-Mark give when J5
is on tour (if they come to your town DON'T MISS IT), but he's also
a multi-time award winning turntablist going all the way back to being
voted "Best Hip-Hop DJ of the Year" way back in 1998 by the Global DJ
The bottom line is that you can't front on either one of them,
so it goes without saying that the two of them collaborating together
would have to be something REALLY SPECIAL. There's no question
then that when the two conceived the "Brainfreeze" tour, a set played
around the world using only 45's (you know, those 7" sized record singles
you used to buy as a kid - if you're old enough to remember them that is),
it was some ol' next shit. I'd like to note from experience that I tried
to scratch with 45's a few times as a college DJ and found it was next
to impossible to do. The records were too small to handle, so light
that the needle always seemd to skip when they were manipulated, and
always seemed to warp way easier than their heavier and more durable 12"
counterparts. The fact the two could do an entire set together using
only 45's and have it be musically and artistically seamless amazes me.
Recordings of their set were made, released in limited quantities, and
unless "Brainfreeze" has been reprinted since then it's hella hard to get.
You may have an easier time getting the "Product Placement on Tour"
DVD, but I wouldn't count on it. I checked around at a few stores online
and one by one they claimed it was sold out, out of stock or out of print.
That's a damn shame. Truly a remarkable set, this audio CD and DVD combo
captures the sequel to their "Brainfreeze" performances, and once again
the talented tandem are only using 45's from start to finish to get the
job done. Knowing how incredibly dope their performance was musically
in advance, what I was really amped to see was how it looked live. The
DVD seamlessly stitches together the set they played around the world,
from Tokyo to L.A. to London and more. At one point Shadow starts to
mix and blend with THREE INCH RECORDS, which quite frankly left my
head blown. There's a hilarious musical performance in the middle of
their set, a rap called "Cookin with Gas" that is quite literally about
cooking food with gas flames, performed in a 1980's throwback style.
What inspired it? Who knows, who cares! Shadow and Cut Chemist are
clearly aware that a turntablist is still a DJ in the "disc jockey" sense
of the term, meaning that it's not just about showing off your skills but
playing music to entertain the crowd and/or listening audience. The 45
minute set is nothing short of entertaining, containing many classic breaks
you'll recognize, a lot that you've never heard before, but all sewn up
so flawlessly you couldn't find a stitch in the mix if you tried.
The DVD also includes a seperate feature called "Cookies & Milk:
Around the World in 14 DJ's" and it's a must see in it's own right.
Incredibly turntablist wizards like Shortkut, Marvski, Egon and DJ
Spinna all rock their own sets with 45's, all on different days and
in different cities, with the blessing/encouragement and/or physical
presence of Cut Chemist and Shadow telling them to rock the house. The
"Leftovers" section features audio commentary options, the main performance
segmented by chapters, a trailer for the DVD itself and one promoting
a live DJ Shadow performance captured on DVD called "In Tune and On Time"
which I've definitely got to check out. Although more extras would have
been stellar, the strength of the performance and the musical wizardry
displayed in the main feature more than compensate for it, and the
"Cookies & Milk" was equally refreshing. If you can find the "Product
Placement on Tour" CD/DVD set (it comes in a DVD longbox) don't miss the
opportunity to pick it up, as you'll definitely regret it later on down
the road when the last copy is gone and it's going for big money on eBay.
As for me you'd have to pry the copy I have out of my hands with a
crowbar, because now that I've got it there's no way I'm parting with it.
This is a musical and visual experience I'm going to enjoy again and again.
Content: 10 of 10
Layout: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: July 12, 2005