Shackleton: Music For The Quiet Hour / The Drawbar Organ (2CD, Woe To The Septic Heart!, April 2012)

This is… wow, I don’t know what this is. It’s bloody great, though. Let’s start with Music For The Quiet Hour. Through five long tracks, fragments of alien-sounding melodies and rhythms circle around, sampled whooshes and whirrs swirl in and out, and through it all runs a very earnest spoken word piece. It’s like some sort of hypnotic collision between world music collage and visionary science fiction paranoia. About the only reference point I can think of is the Black Dog / Black Sifichi collaboration Unsavoury Products, and that’s a bit of a stretch (and this is better). There’s no ambient murkiness here: despite its complexity, it’s mercilessly focussed. The text is delivered with a quiet intensity by a character by the name of Vengeance Tenfold (who, as far as I can tell, exists only in collaborations with Shackleton). It appears to be fragments of some kind of time-travelling inter-generational pre/post-apocalyptic correspondence, hinting at the breakdown of our society in some kind of catastrophe and the attainment of some new kind of consciousness. It hovers tantalizingly on the edge of understanding, as if we could piece it together if only we listen hard enough. It feels very much like some kind of coded warning. It’s one of those pieces of work that your mind keeps coming back to long after you’ve heard it.

I have to say, I find The Drawbar Organ a minor work in comparison. This EP compilation is musically not dissimilar, the notable difference being that these tracks have a much greater rhythmic drive, occasionally reminding me of that gamelan techno that someone kept trying to invent a while ago. They’re also shorter, and crucially lyric-free (not counting occasional vocal samples). There’s a pleasingly hallucinogenic meditative feel. Not a bad effort, but I find it impossible to judge it objectively, for me it’s dwarfed by the monumental brilliance of its other half.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Electronic.

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