Shackleton - Three EPs

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  • Anyone lucky enough to have caught Shackleton's last two appearances at Freerotation Festival will have noticed a marked shift in his approach. Whereas 2008's performance was a full-on adrenaline rush, packed to the brim with manic drums and churning bass, this year's was almost weightless, as if the tough corporeal shell that previously clothed his sound had withered away, leaving only a skeletal substratum of oozing subs and spidery percussion. This LP—a hefty triple-vinyl affair for Perlon—provides yet further evidence of the Berlin-based producer's evolution away from the club (at least as most of us know it), and into the fathomless nether-regions of dark, leftfield computer music. Opener "(No More) Negative Thoughts" sets the tone. Comprised of little more than brushed bass, glowing keys and a muted male voice, it's about as minimal a piece of "dubstep" as you're ever likely to hear, and—barring a seismic revolution in taste—appropriate for only the hardiest of dancefloors. Likewise with "It's Time for Love" (the sound of Scott Walker and Stefan Betke sharing a spliff over Ableton Live), "Moon Over Joseph's Burial" (a vampiric amalgamation of pitch-bent drones and Hell-bent chants) and the frighteningly ethereal "Trembling Leaf," which features the kind of hyper-petrified vocal garblings not heard since you know who's revolting remix of DJ Maxximus's "Neo" back in March. Did I say it was dark? Of course, there are—ahem—"big" tunes, and traces of Shackleton's early, often savage flirtations with the musical rubric of the East (both Middle and Far) can be heard throughout. "Let Go" features rumbling toms, squashed horns and the sort of restless, tail-chasing bassline that made nascent offerings "Hamas Rule" and "I Am Animal" so arresting, whilst "Mountains of Ashes"—scariest title of the year anyone?—makes a B-line for the subcontinent with chiming tabla flecks and rolling, Goa-friendy bass. Meanwhile, "Asha in the Tabernacle," whose mantric credo "Sense it, know it, let it be-be-be…" reverberates incessantly, whips up a Brahmanic storm with lavic subs and pummelling kicks that arrive well over three minutes into the track by way of a pleasingly unheralded drop. But in reality, none of this comes close to what most would regard as club-friendly fare. Far from it. The starkest example of Shackleton's contrarian instinct comes in the form of the impossibly dark "Something Has Got to Give," which closes out the LP in stunningly morose fashion. Built out of only the sparest of elements, it's all-pervading blackness threatens to engulf what precedes it, but is held in check—just—by a skeletal trace of rhythm that trickles through it like ghostly DNA. It's a gloomy conclusion to a gloomy record, but also an exhilarating one which, in chronicling the journey of a maverick producer pressing yet deeper into who knows where, is worthy of the highest praise.
  • Tracklist
      A1 (No More) Negative Thoughts B1 Let Go B2 It's Time For Love C1 Mountains Of Ashes C2 There's A Slow Train Coming D1 Moon Over Joseph's Burial E1 Asha In The Tabernacle F1 Trembling Leaf F2 Something Has Got To Give