Jan 10, 2006

Dead Can Dance

Two substantial bits by me in another Riddim.ca cross-post. First a review of Appleblim and Shackleton on the second Skull Disco release. The pair really start to diverge on this one with Shackleton further developing his rhythmic density alongside ecstatic Turkish and Ethiopian wind instruments, while Appleblim goes to the core of half-time minimalist dubstep. The second item is an interview with Appleblim where we get into darkside influences on his sound and relating to a scene from a geographically marginal position, among other things. Many thanks to Appleblim for the time he put into it, and to Shackleton for the music.

Shackleton + Appleblim
"Majestic Visions" b/w "Girder" and 'Cheat I"
Skull Disco SKULL002

Following up on their well-received but somewhat underrated debut, Skull Disco's Shackleton and Appleblim come back with an even stronger release that sees both producers refining their sounds and carving a unique space for the label.

Skull 002 opens with the clattering metallic percussion and the Eastern wind instruments (sounding like a bellowed melodica) that are becoming Shackleton's trademark. Far more in the vein of "I Am Animal" than his grimier Mordant release, "Majestic Visions" begins with halting kick-snare interplay and steadily layers-in reverb-heavy shakers and rims. Suspense builds until after the two minute mark when the drop finally comes and a percussive workout is matched with swelling sine-bass and a revving, low-end growl, broken periodically by the return of the frenzied melody. Dubwise and spacious, "Majestic Visions" is also one of the most rhythmically complex dubstep tracks about at the moment.

Appleblim contributes two pieces of dread minimalism to the flip with "Girder" and "Cheat I." Both tracks have been making the rounds on dub, getting rewinds from N-Type, Joe Nice and Paul Rose and others since the spring. Metallic and plodding, "Girder" is probably the better known of the two. A wide electric sizzle pulses through its now-familiar opening bars before a delay-washed toast incants the drop. Appleblim draws on the same darkside chill that infused his last release but this time inverts the sonic maximalism of "Mystikal Warrior." Hats and shuffled claps, thick with delay, propel a bassline that sounds like layered 808 kicks - distorted, resonating and bouncing off one another. Sparse and massive.

No less impressive is the thunderous wobbler "Cheat I." Again, percussion is sparse - stuttering kicks, elastic snares and echoing woodblocks. Resonant bells appear from time to time. This leaves lots of space for one of the most powerful and tactile basslines of the past year. Clean at the bottom, distorting through the upper-mids. Played loudly enough, it fills the chest and leaves you with a shiver. The only thing missing is the "Cheat I" sample from the dubplate version (likely a copyright casualty) which has been replaced by echoing dancehall sirens.

Skull Disco could hardly have done better following up their debut. On the strength of this release and material waiting in the wings (including Shackleton's "Limb by Limb") this should be the year that Skull Disco moves right to the centre of the dubstep fray.


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