Boomkat Product Review:
The first new solo Shackleton album since 2021, ‘The Scandal of Time’ is a stunning, immaculately produced mix of ghosted German folk songs with piercing subs, psychedelic trip hop signatures and luxurious instrumentation, for our money the strongest Shackleton album to date and perhaps his most memorable work since ‘Blood on My Hands’ laid us to waste almost two decades ago.
‘The Scandal of Time’ is Shackleton’s most substantial new work in years, bookending a prolific period of experimentation with what we’re told might be his last solo release for a while. And although he’s been feeling his way around alternative tuning systems, classical and non-Western rhythms for a few years now, on this new album he seems to have parted some mystical gateway to a new, elevated dimension. Directly referencing the club diversions he played such a signifiant role shaping back in the late 00’s, Shackleton here fleshes his production with unfathomably rich and exotic textures, with almost half the album featuring the vocals of Anna Gerth, referencing trip-hop in a way that recalls the cracked mirror oddness of the earliest Mo’Wax deployments.
Shackleton freezes momentum even during the album’s most vaporous moments; ‘There is a Seed’ and ‘The Dying Regime’ are knotty propositions, using vocals as uncanny whispers rather than hooks. On the former, disembodied words curl around rubbery hand drums and gummy electronic stings, and on the latter, he stretches words into choral chants, letting levitational South Asian rhythms cook slowly with thick subs and spine tingling folk hums.
When Gerth returns on ‘Es Fiel ein Reif’, she’s transported into the world of the romantic poets, dipping in and out of sinuous surrealism with thumb piano, metallophone vortexes, ghost choirs and stirring claps. On ‘Faraway Flowers’ voices blur beneath echoed piano rolls and synthetic rainfall, drawing us closer to the album’s entrancing conclusion, where a haze of voices and fictile instrumentation sounds cinematic without adhering to any normative rules.
The eerie world Shackleton conjures is a testament to his years of work on experimental bass music’s fringes. He’s shepherded us through many disparate musical styles over the years, but ‘The Scandal of Time’ feels like the moment they’ve all coalesced into a single, startling vessel.