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Shackleton – Deadman review

Sam Shackleton has always done things his own way, and this release for Honest Jon’s is no different. “Deadman” is inspired by dub, but rather than taking the listener on a journey through the alleys of Bristol’s recent musical past or displaying his knowledge of Basic Channel/Chain Reaction’s scuffled techno, he uses it to veer further into experimentalism.

The original version of “Deadman” is a tense, dense affair that skirts on the edges of dancefloor accessibility, but is chiefly concerned with setting a tone rather than delivering instantaneous gratification. Admittedly, there are pummeling tribal drums and rolling percussion at the heart of the arrangement, but they act as a facilitator for the eerie textures and the almost detached-sounding vocal intoning ‘everyone starts from point one, no one…’.

Honest Jon’s have recruited Roger Robinson and Kevin Martin to contribute a remix as King Midas Sound and their ‘death dub’ version certainly lives up to its title. Dispensing entirely with the already tenuous dancefloor link, the duo conjure up foggy textures that sound more malignant than anything the current wave of dub techno producers could muster, and use them as the basis for an eeerie, childlike vocal –  like the creepy kid from ‘The Sixth Sense’ movie on quaaludes. Finally, the crackle remix provides some light relief, with tiny, chiming bells tinkling through an abstract take characterised by soft-focus edges.

Richard Brophy