UK producer Sam Shackleton first came to prominence as some weirdo offside to the dubstep movement, a kind of wilder more complicated older brother, offering up odd experimental techniques within his clanging beats and unexpected time signatures. It was music for the dance-floor but the mix of electronic beats, fake hand percussion and sub bass sounds is continually inventive, surprising and inspiring. He builds tension in this more techno orientated mix effortlessly, subtly building up the darkness and density, often purposely holding it for longer than necessary, morbidly making the release mean more than a cheap thrill, it’s subtle, and as a result it feels much more important.
This mix is much moodier, much more idiosyncratic than you’d expect on the Fabric label, and is apparently based upon his live sets at the club – just recreated in the studio. Compositionally he treats the mix like one track, delighting in withholding elements, before the patient reveal of another another building block, either technique or ingredients, and the result is that you’re constantly scratching your head in awe about what he’s just dropped and where he’ll travel next. There’s even a few minutes of just drones. The kicker is of course that like Ricardo Villalobos before him he’s mixing all his own material, 13 of the 22 pieces previously unreleased, and though the remainder of the tunes have appeared on labels like Perlon or his own Skull Disco, all the tracks are exclusively re arranged versions for this mix.
Vocal samples abound, seemingly from self help, meditation, tribal wails or hypnosis tapes, such as the opener Come Up, which repeats “you’re beginning to come up,” over and over, like finally through his mix we’re finally waking up to a new dystopian reality. It’s hypnotic, progressive forward thinking electronics, complex and bizarre, that’s moved beyond loops, yet still feels quite minimal and maintains a dance-floor groove despite some of the sub bass dynamics. Words don’t do this music justice, Shackleton is doing amazing things.
Bob Baker Fish