Album Review

Nature EP

Nature EP

by Shanalog


8 / 10
7th December 2011

Reviewed by Thomas Shoebridge


Experimental beat music’s contemporary dwelling might be Los Angeles, but its pulsating roots have spread far and wide, as seedlings of the Low End Theory start to appear in New York and Tokyo, its influence felt as far afield as South America, Scandinavia and now our own South Pacific. Like many other beatmakers of this new school of rhythm, influences of traditionalist hip-hop can be heard within Shannon Walsh’s rich, synth-laden compositions. But unlike many who choose to remain close to these foundations, Shanalog’s Nature EP proves he is not afraid to get spatial.

Further developing on the sound of his excellent 2010 release SB001 EP, Shanalog’s mesmerising rhythms sew themselves together in a far more cohesive manner on the Nature EP. Deftly swinging between oscillating synth grooves and ambient soundscapes, you get the feeling that this is a more contemplative artist at work this time round. The second track, the EP’s manifesto of sorts, aligns the work’s trajectory, featuring Noam Chomsky discussing the fundamental human need for “creative work, for creative enquiry, for free creation…” This humanistic element can be heard throughout the EP as samples of voices, both coherent and incoherent, litter the tracks. These ethereal voices float, at times even drown, in the waves of electronic textures that duck and dive around them. Some segments even verge on neo-tribal; the bewitching vocal loops and throbbing rhythms on ‘Banana’ almost nod it off into a trance.

Though this music occupies what could be seen as being one of the least ‘natural’ of musical styles, there is a real organic feel to the tracks on Nature. An attribute that very few electronic producers seem to be able to achieve, the music itself seems to breathe like a living organism, especially in tracks like the opener ‘Quenouille’ and midway through the piece on ‘Communications’. The former’s echoing expanse alludes to reverberations of the material world, and perhaps someplace else, clocks and unintelligible swishes of sound painting a pensive Dali-esque aural image. It is not often that an EP can journey as far as Nature manages to. You couldn’t be blamed for getting lost within the depths of ‘Broken Flowers’; a track that manages to traverse a number of diverse sections, taking the listener through a multitude of emotional and musical spaces, despite a running time of less than four minutes.

By expertly marrying the unmistakably natural with the undeniably synthetic, Shanalog manages to create what is both an exciting and artistically accomplished piece of work. Nature is a superb lesson in what can be achieved in this innovative branch of music.




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