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DJ Format ‘Devil’s Workshop’ Review

Something new and very different from his previous work.

DJ Format
Credit: DJ Format / Project Blue Book

Devil’s Workshop is the latest album to be released by DJ Format and is a vast departure from what I’ve come to expect from his work. The musical box of tricks that Format employs is much deeper than may at first appear. You may be more familiar with his work involving long time collaborator Abdominal, where to quote the guys themselves they “stick to a basic approach, raps over beats’ but have you ever seen him DJ without an MC? If you have you’ll know that his tastes are very eclectic and he has an uncanny skill at blending music that simply shouldn’t work.

Devil’s Workshop is yet another example of how diverse Format can be. It is a dark, moody instrumental album reminiscent of early DJ Shadow or the Wiseguys. Rather than employing basic loops, this album is made from 100% samples with each track building in complexity as it plays out and includes a diverse range of different instruments from keyboards, horns & guitars through to vibes, bamboo flutes & sitars.

Opening track ‘Time to Listen’ sets the tone well for the entire album. It has a very sombre vibe with a slightly jazzy feel. Each track is open to interpretation but there are a few tracks that carry a slightly more obvious message.

‘Brainstorm’ for example appears to be about being fed up with the daily grind of being stuck in the rat race of life. The lyrics “I’m so tired and worn out, I feel like quitting the game and getting out. There’s so many things I just can’t face, I don’t even feel like running in the race” will probably resonate with everyone out there.

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Format himself said of Devil’s Workshop:

“I wanted to make an instrumental album that perfectly reflects my musical tastes in 2021. Although hip hop was my first love and definitely shaped my whole relationship with music, nowadays I mostly listen to ’60s jazz, psychedelic rock and everything in between. I’ve travelled halfway around the world in search of old records that excite & inspired me to make music of my own and I truly believe that ‘Devil’s Workshop ’is my best work so far, the culmination of everything I’ve learnt over a lifetime of consuming & studying music.”

Each track feels distinct but carries on the theme of the album. If you decide to give this a listen, and I recommend that you do, make sure you actually have the time to sit down and listen properly. Headphones would also be recommended to ensure you are not disturbed and I assure you that you’ll be taken on an introspective journey that makes you take time out to think.

Track Listing: 01: Time to Listen, 02: The Light, 03: Brainstorm, 04: Warm Dust, 05: Peace, 06: Disaster Time, 07: The Curse, 08: Blind Man, 09: Mountains of Madness, 10: Strange Sensations

Record label: Project Blue Book Release date:30th April 2021

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