Fabric 55: Shackleton
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Describing his process for losing himself in music, Sam Shackleton recently explained that the traditional kick and snare pattern disrupts his immersion in sound, "and it takes me a long time to build up to this state". That’s one reason why you won’t find any boilerplate boom-tish on his Fabric mix, which uses 22 tracks of his own unreleased and rearranged material to approximate his occasional sets at the London club. What you will find, along with a lot of off-beats, is an inexorable build through states of drama, tension and, occasionally, release. This is, in the best possible way, an enveloping and suffocating experience.
Shackleton, born in Lancashire and now resident in Berlin, is the most intriguing producer who emerged from the mid-00s period when dubstep was first finding popularity beyond its founding cliques. His defunct Skull Disco label (co-founded with Appleblim) forged a key link between dubstep and techno, and helped clear a lane for the two-way traffic of artists like Shed, Untold, Monolake and Scuba. The iconic Skull Disco record is Ricardo Villalobos’s epic remix of Blood On My Hands, Shackleton’s brooding response to 9/11.
Shackleton’s own music from that period owed a debt to the 1980s and 90s work of Mancunian producer Muslimgauze. That influence persists in the liberal use of goblet drum percussion and the muezzin-like flavour of certain vocal samples, but the more Shackleton produces the more he sounds only like himself. That’s why, rather than being just another mix CD, Fabric 55 feels like a full-blown successor to his 2009 album (perversely titled Three EPs) on Perlon.
This is confirmed by the fact that its strongest sections comprise new material. Following the quivering pulses of bass driving 2006’s Hypno Angel, the mix runs through an extraordinary sequence of previously unreleased productions: Visontele reprocesses vintage techno stabs as aquatic bass blurts, Blood Rhythm with Wishy Drones throws a popping beat above desolate pads that are overrun by the digital screech, sustained organ chords and glimmering sci-fi tones of Operatic Waves, before the growling sub-bass of Closeness to Nature rolls the mix into a new phase.
Fabric 55 is so well programmed that these miniature movements aren’t immediately discernible. When one does become apparent, it’s as if the album shifts into a new form to be freshly enjoyed. Its moments of light – the minimalist dancehall organ stabs on International Fires – and dark – the eerily uninflected biblical quotations on penultimate track Massacre – are emblematic of its overall effect: bold and galvanising.
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Top customer reviews
As ever, what seperates Shackleton from the rest of the Dubstep pack is his use of African percussion, moody atmospheres and samples of voices and singing to create a claustrophic, devotional sound. The interludes, where tracks bleed and collide into each other to create further abstracted and intricately detailed atmospheres, is where most of the emotional momentum is generated in this mix.
Flawlessly sequenced, Shackleton manages to sustain the drama throughout the 80 minutes and has created a wonderfully absorbing mix.
The first thing that I thought was.... "Why is this under Fabric not Fabriclive?" I have always placed Electro/disco, House, Tech-House and Techno with the Fabric series and Hip Hop, Breaks, Drum & Bass, Dub Step and other obscure experimental music like Nitin Sawhney in the Fabriclive series. But this isn't the first time they have done this, with artists such as The Amalgamation of Soundz and Baby Mammoth, Beige & Solid Doctor. Fabriclondon the Label was probably just making a statement saying that they aren't completely categorising the Fabric and Fabriclive series of CD's.
The second thing I thought while I was quickly skipping through the tracks whilst not paying any in depth attention was, "This is a tad boring!".
After reaching, around track 10, I thought, lets not skip through this and have a real good listen. After a real good listen on open speakers I thought that this was really for me as I am really eclectic and into every style of music and listen to a lot of music like this a lot of the time. I then thought lets put it on my iPod and listen with my Sennheiser headphones "Any true music fan would have a good pair!!!" and get the real feel of this album, picking up every beat, glitch and every sound this had to offer with pure clarity. What I learnt was that this is a GREAT album and every song would do well in my opinion separately as a single but each song really pays off being apart of this compilation.
This album is a dj mix filled full with Shackletons own work which appeared on albums like Skull Disco and Hotflush, but in very different forms than listener's who know of Shackleton will have heard before. The sound is made of African tribal drums, Dub Step bass lines and beats with a minimal Ambient feel and this is really the main concept without straying off it, pretty much at all! What it does have is a journey through the streets of the UK, witnessed through the eyes of a zolu tribesman for the first time. It is Dark, Atmospheric with a refined sub-bass. Throughout this is also never-ending drums with a distant vocal samples with layers of precise hisses, crackles, bleeps with an emotional melody.
Amazon has been showing the up and coming release of Burials DJ-KICKS, which NEVER seems to be released and is now becoming a speculation that the album was never intended to be released. If Burial was to do a DJ mix, this is what I think it would sound like!
As said by the male vocal on track 6 Operatic Waves "You may take it for granted but others don't!"
I was really expecting a different sort of deep house affect but was dissapointed to be served with a really slow, lost sound. I take my hat off to the dj who mixed the tracks as they had no foundation and no beat whatsoever.
If I could have listened to one or two of the tracks, I probably would not have purchased the cd.
So now it lays in its box never to be used again...
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