The haunt of fear

Pub date February 23, 2010
WriterMatt Sussman

MUSIC Something wicked this way comes when you put on a Shackleton track. Tinny hi-hats, shivering vocal snippets, and water drip snares skitter about like panicked rats as synths bellow like distant foghorns, announcing the approach of the bass.

Oh, that bass. Shackleton’s bass doesn’t drop, but rather lodges itself as a formidable presence within a track’s darting double-, sometimes triple-time rhythms; an iceberg whose total, intimidating mass is never truly perceptible beneath the black depths it floats on. Low end-heads and melancholics alike will get a chance to deep sea dive with the reclusive British producer when he hits Club Six’s Darkroom for his first San Francisco appearance on Sunday in support of last year’s Three EPs (Perlon).

Although he’s most frequently identified with the dubstep scene, Shackleton’s debut on Europe’s most prestigious house and techno label isn’t that surprising. Many of the releases on his now defunct Skull Disco imprint treated dubstep as a template to be toyed with and stretched. Tracks evoked vintage Muslimgauze and Chain Reaction’s hazy pulses as much as the latest white label played out by Mary Ann Hobbs. It was a crossover cemented in his 2006 track, the haunting "Blood On My Hands," which minimal techno expansionist Ricardo Villalobos remixed into a post 9/11 elegy that rivals William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops (2062) as one of the most powerful artistic response to that tragedy.

Four years on and a decade after the towers fell, Three EPs doesn’t offer much in the way of solace. The sampled chants of "He’s got the whole world in his hands" on "Asha in the Tabernacle" come off as a threat rather than a reassurance. The only thing certain is what’s waiting for us in the dark, what’s waiting for us in the end. It’s a sentiment echoed in the lyrics of the Bob Dylan song "Slow Train," summoned in name and spirit on Three EP ‘s most dirge-like track, "There’s A Slow Train": "Man’s ego is inflated, his laws are outdated, they don’t apply no more /You can’t rely no more to be standin’ around waitin’ />In the home of the brave, Jefferson turnin’ over in his grave /Fools glorifying themselves, trying to manipulate Satan /And there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend."


March 7, 9 p.m.

Club Six

60 Sixth St., SF

(415) 863-1221