Shackleton Unveils ‘Fabric 55′ + Label ‘Woe to the Septic Heart’

After what felt like a long break from the spotlight, UK dubstep producer Shackleton returns to form this month with a new label and a mix on the horizon for Fabric

After Sam Shackleton and Laurie “Appleblim” Osborne closed down the legendary Skull Disco imprint in 2008, fans of their unique take on on dub were shocked and left yearning for more of the intense, echo-drenched and hypnotic bass sounds. The name Shackleton (in particular) had become synonymous with  the darkest and deepest sounds in the UK dubstep scene, though it could be argued that his music was not dubstep at all – but rather a unique sound that was evolving. Since 2008 we have seen a handful of releases from Sam Shackleton including the Three EPs on Perlon, but nothing quite as moving and special as the Skull Disco releases. This month marks two offerings from him that should satisfy those who have been waiting for more echo-drenched soundscapes and excursions into rhythm ritual.

Shackleton, “Moon Over Joseph’s Burial” from The Three EPs (Perlon, 2009)

First up is Shackleton’s new Woe To The Septic Heart label, which launched this week and simultaneously sold out in most UK shops. The first offering, entitled “Man on a String Parts 1+2,” sees the bass producer’s return to form with an excursion in African drums, snake-charmer grooves and sub-bass that pulls you deep into hypnosis under meticulous delay work. The three tracks on this release move further from the dubstep sound and into intricate soundscapes heightened by dub delay work. The release features cover artwork by Zeke Clough, who also created Skull Disco’s unique (and collectible) artwork, and was mastered by Rashad Becker of Berlin’s Dubplates & Mastering. In a recent interview with The Wire, Shackleton also mentioned an upcoming project called Refugees of the Septic Heart which will include spoken word artist Vengeance Tenfold, who you may remember from Skull Disco’s 2008 release, Death is Not Final. You can hear clips on the tracks on Boomkat, who say “Man on a String Parts 1 and 2″ maps out a florid jungle scene populated with telepathic drum circles and spiraling sequences of melodica-like tones organized in ritual… By contrast, “Bastard Spirit” is like the evil character lurking in the undergrowth, beating a super slow martial bass tattoo with groovesome swagger.”

Next on the horizon for Shackelton is Fabric 55, a studio mix he created as a celebration of a recent performance he had at the club that will release on December 6, 2010. In a press release regarding the mix he said “I have tried to make a set that would best represent the set I played on that night [at fabric], but 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.”
Shackleton feat. Vengeance Tenfold, “Death Is Not Final” (Skull Disco, 2008)

After listening to the mix I have to agree. It’s a touchy decision to create a mix compilation of all your own tracks. Most of the time when I see this I’ll steer clear of a mix. But Shackleton gets the pass on this one for a couple reasons. First he drops a lot of unreleased material. There are some tracks from Perlon, Skull Disco and Hotflush but a lot of new material. Second – he deconstructs everything and re-constructs it on the fly in traditional dub fashion (think Mad Professor) to a terrific effect. The mix itself becomes an elongated, headier version of the sounds you knew but then becomes drenched in more echo as it progresses, with bits of drums and hiss coming out to play and diving away just as fast. Shackleton is a master of the delay and pulls everything into a swirling abyss and back again, creating a hypnotic sound with massive depth. The delicate flourishes that he adds to the mix contrast the heavy bass sounds to create an atmosphere unlike anything out there right now.

It’s interesting to imagine what this mix would have been like to hear at Fabric, where the sounds in Room 1 are usually a lot more accessible for the punters. Shackleton offers his perspective: “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. It was an even more pleasant surprise for me that some people enjoyed it. I’ve since been asked back quite regularly and every time it seems to go better… I don’t expect everyone to like it. I know it is not to everyone’s taste. That’s why I appreciate Judy sticking her neck out for this and I hope some people like it.”

Shackleton – Fabric 55 mix – 30 min excerpt via Fact Mag

01 Shackleton – Come Up [unreleased]
02 Shackleton – Moon Over Joseph’s Burial [Perlon]
03 Shackleton – Hypno Angel [Skull Disco]
04 Shackleton – Visontele [unreleased]
05 Shackleton – Interlude: Blood Rhythm With Wishy Drones [unreleased]
06 Shackleton – Operatic Waves [unreleased]
07 Shackleton – Closeness to Nature [unreleased]
08 Shackleton – Negative Thoughts [Perlon]
09 Shackleton feat. Vengeance Tenfold – Death Is Not Final [Skull Disco]
10 Shackleton – International Fires [unreleased]
11 Shackleton – Paper [Perlon]
12 Shackleton – Deadman [unreleased]
13 Shackleton – Interlude: Point One, Sense It [unreleased]
14 Shackleton – Man On A String (Part 1) [unreleased]
15 Shackleton – Man On A String (Part 2) [unreleased]
16 Shackleton – Ice [unreleased]
17 Shackleton – Busted Spirit [unreleased]
18 Shackleton – Bottles [unreleased]
19 Shackleton – New Dawn [Skull Disco/ Hotflush]
20 Shackleton – Something Has Got To Give [Perlon]
21 Shackleton – Massacre [Skull Disco/Hotflush]
22 Shackleton – Stripped [unreleased]

Michael Walsh is an audio/visual artist and journalist living in Los Angeles. Read more of his work at