- Shatterproof (Just Music)
Skechbook was a fine debut of classy yet dirty electronica
from Londoners Dom Hoare and Andy Gillham, the duo together
known as Echaskech. Their sophomore effort Shatterproof
continues in similar vein.
brooding paranoid ambience of the title track gets things
under way, starting off like a '70s Brian Eno
number before the beats kick in and see it evolve into a
dark and moody, almost drum and bass style workout. Piano
keys fire out over the atmospheric backing and bass stabs.
lush On Your Mind follows, twinkling and shining like a
chill out track but with a bass-heavy fire in its belly.
With more than a hint of the Art Of Noise's
Moments In Love, whispered female spoken vocals float over
the euphoric backing.
thing Echaskech never shy away from is melody, and that
approach makes for an engaging and genuinely uplifting experience.
However, old-school bleeper Future Sex, with its Kraftwerkian
vocoder, evolves little and misses the spot slightly. While
its appeal does grow over time it's still perhaps a strange
choice for the album's lead single.
are several echoes of electronica past such as on Low Pressure,
which evokes classic Black Dog and FSOL,
but then underlays these influences with some bottom heavy
bass-led funk which brings it bang up to date. While still
melodic, this is counterbalanced with an edgy melancholy
and darker undertones, before soaring electronic chords
return to create a beautiful slice of Balearic warmth. Muted
melodic coaster Deserted is a purely ambient outing meanwhile,
oozing its way into earshot as fragile piano keys punctuate
the smoky beats and stark electronic bass.
album's centrepiece is double-header The Calm/The Storm
(clever, eh?) which kicks off in lush soothing Ulrich Schnauss-esque
style before mutating into darker territory with jacking
kick drums and insistent synth lines. The Calm's icy cool
chords are joined by arpeggiated synth stabs which create
a little tension but do little to detract from what is essentially
a soothingly harmonious experience. Any relaxation is cast
away though when The Calm evolves into the urgency and paranoid
edginess of The Storm. It's an ambitious, engaging idea
that is carried off with confidence and panache.
with Orbital are clear throughout Shatterproof,
but there's often more meat to many tracks that are more
dancefloor-centred than much of the Hartnoll brothers' more
cerebral work. That influence can be heard on the wonky
bassed Digital City but it remains just that: an influence.
It is never allowed to take over to such an extent that
the music becomes derivative.
almost impossibly buoyant She Likes Colour wears its heart
on its sleeve and, performed live, is guaranteed to force
some shape-making from the dancing masses. Redeploy brings
the album to a close and, once again, while it's mellow
and ambient in tone, there are harder, harsher beats, samples
and sounds that balance this up so the music never drowns
in fluff and sentiment. It's that ability to balance the
rough with the smooth that makes Shatterproof win through.
is where Orbital, Brian Eno, The Radiophonic Workshop,
Warp's Artificial Intelligence series from the early '90s
and good old tuneful, contemporary, grimy dance music collide,
and it proves to be an immersive, enjoyable journey. With
a second album of melodic electronica, filthy funk and soaring
goosebump raisers under their belts, it could be time for
Echaskech to finally get the credit they're due.