Death By Tickling by Scotch Rolex and ShackletonRelease date: March 31, 2023
Label: Silver Triplet
Electronic adventurers, serial collaborators and international men of mystery Scotch Rolex and Shackleton combine forces in Berlin to cook us up a glorious cosmic slop. Is it cause or cure? Death by Tickling is a lost hour of ever changing, subtly shifting rhythms and slippery dub-space sound. Shackleton’s hallucinatory bass-murk meets the playful absurdist spirit of Scotch Rolex on a fun house glide. It’s as warm and comforting as it is overloaded and disorienting. Please keep your arms inside the vehicle at all times.
It’s been a weird century so far hasn’t it? Static and yet accelerated at the same time. Seems strange to think this pair have been twisting and stretching sound into new shapes for almost twenty years now. Bubbling up in the then new and vibrant margins of dubstep and breakcore. Shackleton moved on quickly, his tunes growing ever darker and more complex. By the time he folded celebrated label Skull Disco he was making abstract ritual music characterised by deep shadows and a paranoid chill. He’s been exploring ever since through different projects and collaborations.
DJ Scotch Egg meanwhile was working at the other end of the spectrum in the crush of lurid plastic sonics and hyperspeed beats of breakcore, gabber and chip tune. Wide-eyed teeth grind mania in contrast to Shackleton’s shrouded atmospheric doom. He became Rolex (named after the Ugandan street food) during a residency with Nyege Nyege, combining his delirious beat science with the rhythms and voices of African artists. The resulting album, TEWARI, featuring MC Yallah, Swordman Kitala and Duma’s Lord Spikeheart among others is thrillingly inventive and abrasive.
Death By Tickling is much less in your face, taking that wild energy and fracturing it through dub into an avant-garde bass music of makeshift shamanism and deconstructed rhythms. The album’s light hearted title neatly captures that mix of Shackleton’s funereal gloom and Rolex’s high spirited mischief, its music meeting on the common ground of rhythmic dexterity and a fascination with musical texture. Trying to sift out what is happening is a fool’s errand. Both of their identities are imprinted on this music but in a way that’s satisfyingly well combined. The tracks are like ten photographs of the same busy marketplace. A lot is happening but it overlaps and moves with surprising ease, an unseen instinctive order.
A long way from soothing ambient it absolutely teems with detail wherever you put your attention but the multiple layers of sound never clash or clot. It flows effortlessly on. The overall effect is relaxing, restful but never still, even the more hectic sections feel spacious and calm. This is music in which you can dissolve, regaining a sense of wonder at the universe. Shuffling somnambulant at the border of dream and reality. A dream cutting the past into the future. Because one is made from the other. Futurist sound, not the novelty of sleek modernity but tuning into something unified and primitive through new channels.