Two years ago we said that Shook’s two EPs ‘The Glow‘ & ‘The Rise & Fall‘ were essentially Shook’s first album, in fact we went one step further: “If you were to play both ‘Glow’ and ‘The Rise And Fall’ together, you’ve got ‘Homework’, now, can he make ‘Discovery’?” Well, two years later we have his debut album, ‘Shook‘ – so did he make his own version of ‘Discovery‘?
Well in a word: yes. Shook’s self-titled debut album shares a lot of with Daft’s second album; it’s fun, bright and full of the joys of summer, and whilst ‘The Glow‘ & ‘The Rise & Fall‘ showcased a darker, harder side to dutch funk producer, his debut album showcases his talents in a multitude of sonic intensities, emotions and styles – without ever being too show-y.
‘Tonight‘ opens the album in true Shook style as the producer crafts his ubiquitous jazz-fusion and electro-funk across a 4-minute vitusoso performance. What’s really surprising about his debut full-length is his decision to not include any tracks from his previous two EPs, so you have 8 brand-new tracks alongside four old favourites. The first brand-new track is ‘Key Of Light‘ a twanging piece of jazz-funk backed by gluey basslines, and frantic synth flourishes. It is then flanked by ‘Changing Wind‘ a piano-driven piece of synth pop dripping with atmosphere, as he blends cascading keys with minimalist drums and plenty of soaring strings – it’s almost certainly contender for track of the album. Drawing influences from a range of sources both new and old, Shook’s debut album manages to find a perfect blend between nostalgic love letter and his need to combine cutting edge electronic instrumentation with his virtuoso abilities on the piano.
In an age where albums are seemingly becoming less and less relevant, Shook’s debut album brings you back to time where albums were a cohesive snapshot of an artist’s current influences, and that’s where Shook’s album makes most sense. Essentially, this means it doesn’t sound like it was passed around like a joint at a party between twenty difference producers all wanting to make their own impact. One of Shook’s defining characteristics is he is one of very few producers who actually has a style to call his own, and ‘Walking To The Sun‘ continues this as he fuses twitchy riffs with bitter synths and low-key percussion. And that’s the interesting thing about his debut whilst it’s happy, whimsical and upbeat – you get a real sense that there are other, darker emotions at play too.
It’s fair to say that Shook’s debut doesn’t shoot for too much complexity or variety – and while that might not be to everyones taste, it does make for album that works well when listened to from start to finish. There are, of course, some collaborations in there too – but they don’t try to steal the limelight, ‘Love For You‘ being perfect example, with the vocals never fighting too much for your attention.
If you go into Shook’s debut album with an open mind there’s a lot to love, it isn’t club music, but more a spiritual journey into the world of an obssessed Dutch pianist and his pet wolf. There’s a great deal to love about Shook’s debut album and quite where he’ll go now, artistically, is unclear – but Shook’s debut represents a successful end to this chapter of his life, and we for one can’t wait to see where he’ll go for the next chapter.
HBF Rating 4/5
Pre-order Limited vinyl on: http://shook.bandcamp.com