For those who believe a DJ set should aspire to be told, lived and felt as a voyage, this one by Shackleton is one of the best and weirdest journey ever launched on those three levels. The narration of this “Fabric 55” starts one morning at Room 1 of Fabric. Sam Shackleton –who started his brilliant career in front of a computer when a mate with whom he had a band decided to leave it all behind and convert to Islam– remembers his surprise when Fabric called him: “I never thought that Fabric would be interested in my music to be honest and so it was a pleasant surprise when they asked me to play in Room 1, back before most other London venues would touch me, or indeed had probably heard of me.” What happened that night was so incredible, disturbing, original, unexpected and hypnotic –the comments of those who were there are so vehement that it’s impossible not to be jealous– that the Fabric people proposed to release it as one of their famous CD mixes. Shackleton said yes, but he preferred to re-record it: “I have tried to make a set that would best represent the set I played on [my first] night [at Fabric], minus the mistakes. Some of the tracks are re-jigged versions of older material, some of them are new. Some of them will never see a release in any form aside from this. Some of them are not even tracks, just coincidental parts merging with each other between tracks. Those are the best bits, actually. I don't expect everyone to like it. I know it is not to everyone's taste.”
It’s an 80-minute journey that slides down spirals of darkness. It’s hyper-complex, dense and at many times asphyxiating. Turbulent and disorienting moods but very elegant, tribal drums which become more intense like a Lovecraftian invocation, dark voices turning into hollow and melodic canticles. The senses elevate and become polished, the delicacy residing in the twisted are tasted. It’s dubstep, it’s techno, it’s exotic jungle, fucked-up drum’n’bass, a bizarre mix of everything; but above all, it’s tribal. It is, possibly, the most beautiful electronic music heard this year, although with mixes like this one, time measures are useless.
This “Fabric 55” (composed, like the ones by Ricardo Villalobos and Omar-S, only with his own material, on the border of a mix and an album), is one of those sets that in a club –and more so on the pluperfect soundsystem at Fabric– traps, silently seizes a club elite, makes you shut your eyes and float between layers of indescribable sounds full of meaning. When it sounds like asphyxiation is near, an unexpected beating opens your eyes for a moment to catch breath. The layers of darkness come back in waves and, with them, the glorious entrapment that disappears when the light is turned on and your eyes finally open and you blink, smiling and, for a few minutes, understanding everything. It’s the soundtrack a peyote trip, the search of the inner child or a flight over the Nazca lines. Enter your own dream of journeys. These are mine.
Marta Hurtado de Mendoza
Shackleton - Hypno Angel