If there is an undercurrent running through these productions, it's Shakir's irregular, live approach. In his Resident Advisor interview, he talked about adding "a hip-hoppish approach to electronic music," and the sort of tweaked, sample-based, accidents-in feel that characterizes many of hip-hop's great productions is fully in place here. Tracks break down, and slide into high frequencies without warning: Shakir's malleability isn't limited to the myriad of genres encompassed here; it pervades the songs themselves.
Many have written that Shakir's tracks prefigured plenty of contemporary electronic music trends, from wonky to the modern disco edit. This is not untrue. The stop-start reverbed-out beat, wavy synth flourishes and thick, boogie-influenced bassline on "...Like a Dream" are a glorious precursor to the former, and "Get a Feeling" is glimmering, elastic future disco; lovely dancing with a view of metropolitan lights stretching forever.
Nevertheless, Shakir's is a brand of techno steeped in tradition. The combination of sweeping emotion and executions at once complex and immediate is the same blend that endears his contemporaries Juan Atkins and Carl Craig. And like the catalogs of those producers, there's something for everyone here. Other highlights include the E2-E4-style languid drift of "For the Lamented," lightly buzzing synths looping over each other for the duration. "Frenchie" is twitchy insectoid motorway funk, "Electron Rider" is a clattery jacker with a heavily filtered vocal sample and "Simpatico" is another tense, grungy-and-refined number, repeating and repeating before breaking into beautiful squiggly synths at exactly the right moment.
As much as I'm gushing, it's difficult to overstate how inimitable a collection this is. For all the genre-shifting, none of its experiments feel contrived. If Shakir prefigured anything, it was more a result of trying out something new than aiming to be some kind of trendsetter. In spite of this, it's likely trends will (accidentally or not) continue to bear traces of Shakir's touch. Frictionalism is brazenly futuristic and even difficult at times, but never retentive or academic. Shakir's homemade, personalized touch resonates throughout, and his talent for preserving this while testing dance music's outer limits is truly a singular one.