As it has become a somewhat common occurrence in his discography, Shackleton’s Cosmo Rhythmatic debut as Tunes Of Negation opens with a song. Its structure and, most importantly, themes, can be integrally traced within his rhizomatic net of creations, consistent with a process that’s regularly wandered through spiritual depths by means of sonic perseverance. Sung by Heather Leigh, the double – cantos continuum of “The World Is A Stage” and “Reach The Endless Sea” deal with time, or rather its illusory, treacherous nature, as well as spiritually investigating ideas of immortality, memory, and grief.
Ultimately, it is a meditation on the non-finitude of life and spirit, and the limits of perception in dealing with it. It could be argued that the whole record, as well as Shackleton’s whole body of work, represents an attempt to break those limits and trespass beyond human experience, incorporating an immense vocabulary of music traditions in order to ditch linear narratives and the established grammar of electronic music.
Shackleton’s usual arsenal of resonating woods and metals, ceremonial polyrhythms and astral melodies acquire a freer, more spontaneous character by the intervention of keyboardist Takumi Motokawa and mallet player Raphael Meinhart, whose symbiosis with the producer generates a truly beautiful and multi-directional flow of energy. The sacral austerity of the music is paralleled by its sheer, seductive, harmonic power, one that draws new trajectories in time and space with its seemingly endless layers of arpeggios, beats, and drones.
For all their complexity and propulsion, these are indeed Tunes of Negation. The title, inspired by a poem by 13th Century mystic Jalalu’l-Din Rumi, is a description of what Shackleton himself hopes to achieve with the music, to “aid transmutation and enter into the light”.