Shackleton: Fabric 55
Fabric Records

The fifty-fifth instalment in Fabric's mix series is distinguished not so much by the fact that it's Lancashire-born Sam Shackleton at the helm but that the set is composed entirely of Shackleton material. The former Skull Disco manager (alongside Appleblim) brings his magisterial bass science to a mix that's got all of the earmarks of the Shackleton sound without being in any way a retread. Though it includes new takes on previously released material, such as the Skull Disco cut “Death Is Not Final” (but not “Blood On My Hands” or “Stalker”), and a small number of tracks previously issued on Perlon and Hotflush, much of Fabric 55 is new and unreleased original material. Slithering sub-bass lines, tribal percussion (hand drums, bells, shakers), and voice samples blend into an ominous, pulsating mix that Shackleton recorded in the studio as a simulation of a live Fabric set.

With “Come Up” as the gateway, the mix takes mere moments for its entrancing vibe to work its black magic. Shackleton's heady maelstrom of brooding tones, hyeractive claps, congas, and voice sample (“beginning to come up”) pulls the listener in and doesn't let go for the next seventy-five minutes. Adding to the portent is a voice sample of CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour dropped into “Operatic Waves,” the “Cancel, cancel” instruction voiced by a motivational guru in “Negative Thoughts,” and the hypnotic “Everyone starts from point one” loop stretching through “Deadman.” Soulful ululations ripple through “Man On A String (Part 2),” after which the hyperactive swirl of “Busted Spirit” elevates the mix to a vertiginous pitch and “Bottles” and the marvelous “New Dawn” ground it with infectious, body-shaking bass rumble and vocal whoops. The penultimate track, “Massacre,” points the mix towards the finish line with a deadpan spoken voice sample sprinkled o'ertop a throbbing bottom end, the Shackleton style tidily wrapped into a single stunning construction. Those familiar with his Skull Disco sound won't find the mix jarring as it riffs on the same kind of Eastern-styled trippiness and off-kilter rhythmning heard in his previous work. That style becomes even more potent in the Fabric mix, however, as it unspools relentlessly and without interruption, making it near-impossible to resist its undertow.

December 2010