Is Woe To The Septic Heart! the reincarnation of that fabulous label that spread darkness in dubstep and which many still bow to as a sign of maximum respect, Skull Disco? Let’s hope so. Almost everything that made Skull Disco such a grand label is reproduced here: first there is the central figure of Shackleton as the creator of the concept and the cold sound, clinical, meticulous and tribal, of a version of dubstep that leans towards techno; and second there is the artwork designed by Zeke Clough. Only Laurie Osborne (alias Appleblim) is missing as co-owner, but his absence is a minor deficiency if you keep in mind that it’s the sound –the claustrophobia and post-9/11 and pre-credit crunch anxiety– that really matters. The best Shackleton of the last couple of years (and that includes the incredible “Three EP’s” for the Perlon imprint) reappears on this impressive 12”, on which the balance of power in his usual sound breaks and leans, once again, towards where he left it after the last Skull Disco release–more dubstep than techno, in short.
The ten hypnotic and terrifying minutes of “Man On A String Part 1 & 2” are the ones that place Shackleton and his new adventure amongst the high points of electronica in 2010. More than a production, it’s a labyrinth outlined with the patience of Daedalus and full of traps. It’s audio in which one loses and finds oneself, ending up confused, dizzy and fascinated by the complexity of the voyage and the route. It’s dark post-dubstep with the rhythmic richness of a drum’n’bass with deflated tyres, in which the baroque style and nervous tension rule. A work of art that has a competent reverse in the form of “Bastard Spirit”, an outburst of violent techno, icy, that only makes us want more and more. Shackleton was never gone, but this new entry on stage reminds us how important he has been and how transcendental he must still be for modern music.