On his latest single for Crosstown Rebels, dubstep pioneer Sam Shackleton once more steps outside any preconceived notion of genre to pay tribute to his teenage heroes, LA industrial band Savage Republic with a cover of their track ‘Next to Nothing’. Well, not a cover exactly, but a remake – Shackleton has even gone so far as to rope in the group’s front man Jackson Del Ray on vocal duties.
Shackleton’s homage effectively captures the bleak mood of the eighties original, beginning amidst low down and beatless surges of watery bass vibrations and hopeless ambient tremors. The full beat takes an age to evolve from this toxic milieu, building slowly with masterful inflections of snares and the eventual clattering tin drums to create a modern-primitive take on the largely forgotten original. Del Ray’s lyrics are, however, a little too simple, describing an artistic infatuation with destructive visions, reminiscent of the 9/11 scenario of Shackleton’s classic ‘Blood on My Hands’. As well as being naïve, they also initially lack something in their delivery, despite being generously produced. They eventually do reach the mark, when the track’s title becomes a repeated and echoed refrain, but taken as a whole, they almost let the single down.
As if sensing this, Montreal’s Guillame and the Cotu Dumont let the vocals be for a while on their remix. It’s a cut that prove they are a perfect partner for Shackleton’s percussive and ethnic sound, almost better than Ricardo Villalobos even, whose signature tribal minimal house style complements Shackleton nicely. Despite being less dark, Guillame’s dance floor-friendly remix is an upbeat and equal match for the brooding original.
Mobilee regulars Exercise One also offer a strong interpretation in a non-surprising and overall less percussive minimal techno version. It is solid and catchy though. The vocals are again left with a lot of space and used more to mark changes in the filters of phasing noise and rebounding acid tones than to tell a story.
Bonus points to Shackleton for this being a UNICEF charity record, not to mention being pretty inscrutable, but it’s a fraction short of another potential classic.
Tracklist: Shackleton - Next to NothingA1 Next To Nothing
A2 Next To Nothing (Guillaume & The Cotu Dumonts Remix)
B1 Next To Nothing (Exercise One Remix)