Sam Shackleton

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Three EPs (2009), 7.5/10
Music For The Quiet Hour (2012), 6/10

English dubstep producer Sam Shackleton, distinguished himself for a series of experimental singles and EPs, notably Stalker (2004), Hamas Rule (2006) and his political manifesto Blood On My Hands (gloriously remixed in 2007 by Ricardo Villalobos), mostly compiled on the double-disc Soundboy Punishments (2007), a split compilation with Appleblim.

The metamorphosis (coincidentally after he moved to Berlin) towards a techno that is both tribal and ethereal, pivoting around warbling viscous sub-bass lines, began with the EP Soundboy's Suicide Note (2008) and was completed by the time that Three EPs (Perlon, 2009), an album originally intended as a trilogy of EPs, was released. The latter marks the zenith of his elegant productions, ranging from the nine-minute Afro-tribal nightmare of No More Negative Thoughts to the hypnotic vocal games of Let Go, from the dub-jazz psychedelia of It's Time For Love to the industrial treatment of an intricate tabla beat in Mountains Of Ashes, from the Goa-esque frenzied trance of Asha In The Tabernacle to the nine-minute Moon Over Joseph's Burial, immersed in a mystical or at least mysterious jungle atmosphere from which a mantra rises like a cathedral choir, and probably the standout track. Some of the most futuristic ideas are left for the shorter pieces: the menacing windy barren landscape of There's A Slow Train Coming to the dissonant and abstract Something Has Got To Give are basically abstract electroacoustic chamber music.

A collaboration with Robert Ellis (aka fellow dubstep producer Pinch), Pinch & Shackleton (Honest Jon's, 2011), contains one of his most accomplished dancefloor clockworks, Rooms Within A Room.

Music For The Quiet Hour/ The Drawbar Organ (Woe To The Septic Heart, 2012) collects wildly heterogeneous sample-heavy collages originally released as self-standing EPs and the more subdued five-movement musique-concrete suite Music For The Quiet Hour. Part 1 sets the tone for this post-industrial landscape of unstable beats, laid-back dissonance, languid hissing and cryptic apparitions. Parts of the 21-minute Music for the Quiet Hour Part 4, in particular, rank among his baroque peaks (African tribal drums, subliminal spoken-word sections, very subliminal minimal rhythms, new-age electronica, pulsing tablas, cosmic drones) although spoiled by too much spoken-word action, a bit reminiscent of Robert Ashley's "operas". The 16-minute Music for the Quiet Hour Part 2 begins as a psychological study on electronic rhythm but then indulges again in the same kind of anemic kammerspiel only to end with a fluid exotic percussive jam. Part 3 is a confused hodgepodge of spoken-word, percussive and electronic sections that don't quite coalesce into a cohesive whole.

The 11-minute Freezing Opening Thawing, off the EP Freezing Opening Thawing (2014) is one of his most orgiastic dances, based on an insistent Caribbean-esque percussive pattern amplified and strengthened through a series of exotic timbric variations.

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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