Although he’s pretty prolific, I suspect DJ Day might not be an immediately familiar name to the average “underground listener”. A very brief roll call of his previous affiliations would include the likes of Emanon duo Aloe Blacc and Exile, and Melting Pot Music’s roster over in Germany – pretty diverse, but you get an idea of where to peg him on your mental Hip-Hop taxonomy map if nothing else.
It was amongst his works on the later that my own ears pricked up to DJ Day’s uniquely chilled sound. For example, 2007’s The Day Before is a joint that I strictly only break out in the summer because it embodies all that’s good about the season; it’s as close as you’ll likely get to having sunshine itself burned onto polycarbonate plastic.
There are many similar moments on Land Of 1000 Chances too. Weaving between its infectious drum breaks resides a wealth of samples and live instrumentation brought together for headphone excursions and dance floors alike. Where “VQ” conjures up the dry humidity of a desert road trip, tracks like “Boots In The Pool” and “W-E-L-O-V-E” could easily rock a beachfront condo party, or whatever goes on out in LA.
This illustrative quality to the tracks can be attributed to DJ Day’s approach to production on this album. He uses less to say more, not in the instrumental-haiku sense of something like Dilla’s Donuts, but more in the stripped down construction of the tracks. An avoidance of over-production forces one to be more creative with what is there; less flash makes room for more sentiment. Tracks like “Partir” and the title track “Land Of 1000 Chances” achieve this by savouring the samples and instrumentation making the most of everything they have to offer. However, I found that this didn’t always work and a couple of the tracks passed by a little uneventfully. Then there’s that one majestic segment halfway through the title track where DJ Day does the opposite, and cuts it short all too abruptly – but this a minor gripe from a fan who essentially just wanted more.
At the centre of all of this lays an undeniably “Hip-Hop” DJ, evident to listeners throughout but most overtly perhaps with “Ode To A Fiend” which employs that instantly recognisable bass line and sleigh bell combo. But the strongest quality of the album is in its dexterity; DJ Day hits the right notes outside of the usual palette of Hip-Hop sounds, showcasing the wide-ranging competency of any great producer. Although it may seem like an uninspired comparison on my part, I can’t help but draw loose parallels to DJ Shadow, not in terms of technique or style, but in spirit. More specifically, Land Of 1000 Chances challenges the perceptions of what a DJ may traditionally be considered capable of. It’s progressive and unpredictable, and if you recently enjoyed Shadow’s The Less You Know The Better, you’ll definitely appreciate this record.
Recommended further listening: Nas – It Still Ain’t Hard To Tell (DJ Day Remix)