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Various Artists – Shangaan Shake review

Wisely gathering together the slew of 12”s that were issued in a celebratory culture clash very typical of Honest Jon’s, Shangaan Shake is the complete document of the remixes the label commissioned to pit leftfield Western artists against the Shangaan electro of South Africa. When your choice of remixers spans Ricardo Villalobos and DJ Rashad, and the source material is 180 bpm African music, you can only expect varied results.

It really is an all-star cast too, from house heroes to dubstep tinkerers, all bringing their own personal disciplines to bear on the music. What makes the compilation succeed is that every participant is an artist not bound by their closest relevant genre ties, and you end up with 16 cuts that seek to pay respect to the source material rather than brazenly imposing their own styles on the project.

Some tracks aren’t so surprising; Mark Ernestus turns out an elegant slice of dub techno, while DJ Rashad and RP Boo throw down sweaty footwork action, but still there’s a brittle spark to the sounds they use that belies the music’s origins. Peverelist’s version is a particular triumph, plying a typically complex rhythm but at a slower, seductive tempo, while frenetic cymbal taps ring out into an infinite decay. Demdike Stare conjure up a thoroughly chilling and engrossing affair with their effort, lurching through beatless space inhabited by tonal trills and vocal incantations.

Out of all the artists, Theo Parrish is the one unafraid to maintain the original bpm, which leaves his remix stark and exposed against the multitude of other tracks. It’s a brave as anything he’s done before, not least in the subtle doubled-up kicks hammering away under the positively bonkers layers of melody. Anthony Shake Shakir’s party-rocking electro cut has already been widely celebrated on the dancefloor, but few will have yet gotten to grips with the almost UK Funky style celebration that is the MMM effort. As you can gather, it’s an utterly mixed bag of music from some of the wilder producers of our times. A lot of the time exercises in fusing disparate cultures can produce laborious results, but no so here.

Oli Warwick