Glasgow has always been a city that takes to certain producers and music like a duck takes to water. I’ve talked before about the relationship between the genres created in hard, declining industrial cities finding a natural outlet in similar places a world away, and it’s as true for Glasgow as it is elsewhere. While Glasgow’s own non electronic music scene is still defined in many eyes by the fey, wishy washy indy of the late 80’s and 90’s, I’ve always felt it was responsible for a misleading view of Glasgow. A much more accurate one, I think, was to be found not in the jangly chords of arsty kids with a deliberate taste for obscure French cinema, but in its clubs and amongst a host of house and techno DJs and people making beats in their bedrooms for no other reason than they enjoyed it. Mind you, I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Glasgow embraced house and techno big time and it still does, although these days the net is cast a little wider than it may once have been. It’s a fairly big city, of course, so there should be plenty of room for differing visions to co-exist. Even so there is still an undercurrent to the decadence and debauchery that goes back a little further than whatever sounds are currently in vogue. When it comes to something we love, we can get pretty serious about it.
Anthony Shakir was always one of those producers whose music seemed to have a natural affinity with Glasgow techno fans. There were others, of course: Drexciya, UR, and many more from Detroit and the rosters of labels like Dance Mania and Relief in Chicago. Shake Shakir, though, is one of those names that brings out the smiles, his music woven through the ebb and flow of countless Glasgow nights over the years often, perhaps, without the bulk of the anointed knowing exactly – or at all – who he is.
This seems to be a bit of a recurring theme with Shakir. Nowadays he’s a lot more well known than he used to be but there was a period when his name tended to be mostly familiar to those who dug a little deeper. Often now considered part of the second wave of Detroit techno, Shakir’s involvement – like so many others of the Second Wave – pre-dates his first releases. He worked for Metroplex in A&R, and as a producer and engineer his touch is to be found on the work of the likes of Derrick May and Carl Craig. Through it all, though, he still seems to have remained in the shadows. I don’t know whether this was by design or just a case of being overlooked at a time when so many of his peers were burning their way across Europe, Japan and everywhere else.
Certainly it had nothing to do with quality. Shakir’s music is up there with the very, very best. But even here there is a detachment from the rest. There is something about his work that stands apart from Detroit whilst encapsulating so much of its creative meaning. His influences are strong – a tight web of techno, house, hip hop and damn near everything else that is filtered into his work with the ears and imagination of someone whose love of music goes far beyond simply picking at the morsels that orbit his primary tastes.
I could have chosen any one of a score of tracks but I’ve gone with Systemic Advancing, which was first released in 97 on German label International Deejay Gigolo, because not only is it a cracker of a tune, but also because of the way it seems to carry within it so much of his home city whilst sounding absolutely beyond it. There are little touches of Drexciya, and Aux 88, and of Model 500’s shimmering organic-machine power, all bound in golden threads of Hi-Tech funk. But most of all it’s pure, 100% Shake Shakir. There’s so much invention it’s almost redundant to point out that the beats are to die for.
Anthony Shake Shakir, folks. A man from the other side of the world who is as much a part of Glasgow’s musical DNA as any amount of drippy art school pop. And a damn sight more mindblowing. Oh yes.