“You’re beginning to come up….” So begins Fabric 55 which is not mixed but performed by Sam Shackleton, one of the most creative and visionary electronic musicians around. Now in its tenth year the series’ format is generally an opportunity for DJs to play their hardest and most crowd pleasing records. Kind of like what you would hear them play to the thousands of students and party goers who visit the London institution every weekend. But in this case Shackleton delivers one hour and fifteen minutes of his own productions, a risky venture but one that pays off. He might not be the first to play only his own tracks but he is definitely the most successful.
Designed to mimic a set he performed at the club recently the mind bending studio mix represents how his live show has evolved. As anyone who caught his set in Dublin recently will know Shackleton’s music translates surprisingly well in a club environment. He creates tribal, hallucinogenic pieces which demand to be danced to in the ritualistic setting of a loud and busy club. What sounds interesting and deep at home becomes a visceral experience in a live setting and this Fabric mix captures this as best it can. His hyperactive percussion and trippy rhythms gives his sound an ancient quality which invokes primitive emotions and moods. No surprise then that his now defunct label was called Skull Disco.
Shackleton’s tracks feel more complete as pieces in a set and there are some interesting results when songs are blended together. During the 75 minutes he presents material from his new Woe To The Septic Heart label as well as older tracks such as ‘Death Is Not Final’ which is reworked for the set. Other highlights include ‘(No More) Negative Thoughts’ with its ominous vocal sample and enveloping bass. Throughout the mix the auteur builds up a cacophony of rhythms and pressure and at times he reaches industrial levels of intensity which display the influence of bands like Throbbing Gristle have on his sound.
Shackleton has always been a fantastic performer who has pushed boundaries with his live show and this compilation is a great opportunity to catch the musician at the height of his creativity. Fabric’s willingness to take a chance on a somewhat unusual artist has yielded possibly the best mix in the series to date.