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  • Filed under: Review
  • 01/04/2011

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Shackleton Fabric 55

Beginning with his dark 2004 debut, "Stalker, " and continuing with his collaborations with Appleblim on the trailblazing Skull Disco label and a move to Berlin, where he continues his danceable experiments in evil dub and tribal techno, Englishman Sam Shackleton has always seemed like a man with a steady plan. But his new mix CD, Fabric 55, suggests that perhaps none of it was planned at all. Instead, what we've likely been hearing has been the sharing of an increasingly vivid and intimate stream of (un)consciousness.

Spread across 22 of his own tracks, some released here for the first time, the mix rides the back of Shackleton's signature percussive elements—bongos, soul claps, muted bass drums—and weaves in droning bass vibrations and hypnotic, dreamlike vocal samples. If you're a Shackleton fan, you've heard this all before, but not in this hallucinatory context, not via the producer's own hand.

An alternate version of the melodramatic "Death Is Not Final" is squeezed into the middle of the set, but it merely goes with the flow. It sets up "International Fires," one of the new ones, which finishes with one of the dirtiest basslines you've heard anywhere in Shackleton's entire dirty oeuvre. More bass in your face comes from another unreleased track, "Deadman," while North African and psychedelic disco rhythms combine to give the also-fresh "Bottles" a sonic quirkiness that carves out new territory for an artist reaching another level of his already impressive game.

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