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Review

Bruce Gilbert

This Way to the Shivering Man

This Way to the Shivering Man is a collection of selected tracks from two Gilbert vinyl outings for Mute Records: This Way and The Shivering Man.

The bulk of the release is made up from pieces originally commissioned to accompany ballet productions for the likes of Michael Clark and Angela Conway, so one might expect a partial emptiness to emanate from where said dancers are supposed to be. Luckily this isn't the case.

The subtle, operatic opening to part one of Do You Me? I Did sets the scene with a calming atmosphere and slight wave-like noises. Odd sounds and echoes appear at set intervals over the track's length. The second part is slightly more structured, but no less ambient; textures float around each other while slight instruments are heard in the distance. Rough, grating edges appear half way through—a teaser for the third part, which is somewhat more rhythmic; a distant 'beat' is soon joined by industrial sounds and fractured overlaid rhythms bring unease to the mix while the piece builds to a voluminous finale.

The remaining pieces do their level best to change moods constantly. The playful nature of The Shivering Man—almost cartoon-like in its nature—is counteracted by the dark, industrial Dome-like Here Visit, concluding with slamming, grating loops. Epitaph for Henran Brenlar is the closest the release gets to pop. Another fairly dark rhythm, a pair of subtle and intricate guitar riffs and a haunting Lewis vocal combine to create a truly classic piece of music on a par with the very best of anything that the duo have ever been involved with.

The album's finale, Angel Food, is almost a story in itself. Beginning with a harrowing nightmarish industrial sound, it them speeds up (if not brightens up) allowing a pacey beat to surface, before replacing that with treated metallic noises and choir-like voices.

This Way to the Shivering Man highlights the very best of Gilbert's abilities: his experimental edge, his knack for combining elements of noise and composition, his slight pop leanings and his attention to rhythmic qualities that is evident in most of his work. This really is a classic release, and although it's a shame that some pieces from the vinyl outings never made the CD, it stands proud as it is.

Craig Grannell (March, 2000)

Cover artwork