Good moments seem hard to come by at the moment. We're kept away from the friends and family we love and the Drum & Bass culture that we all adore so much. The world we've grown to know so well is changing and it feels that as an individual there is so little you can do to help.
Now, they say music can change your mood. Well listening to Calibre’s Shelflife Six did more than that. Having this album pound through a pair of Adam Audio speakers on repeat has not only lifted my mood but made me feel generally more optimistic about everything going in the world right now.
The Belfast born artist has created another Drum & Bass masterpiece. He makes me absorb the genre in a completely different way to when I usually listen to music made at 170 beats per minute. Calibre doesn't just make music; he makes works of art.
With over 15 albums to his name, he is no stranger to one. However, the Shelflife series are different to most albums. It's a way of Calibre releasing music that he has hidden away (sometimes for a serious amount of time) and gives fans the chance to listen to music they fell in love with years ago.
It's the timing of this album which makes it special to me. The world is disconnected and the never- ending stream of raves and festivals around the globe have been put on hold. I was feeling disconnected to the music that I love for the first time since I discovered it. Shelflife Six made me feel as connected as I ever have to Drum & Bass.
The album opens with the 'Things like this'. Bouncy piano riffs, beautiful lyrics and what I can only describe as the most satisfying drum roll before the drop makes this song the most fitting opener for a Calibre album. With festivals being a clear no go this year, listening to this soulful track on repeat had me feeling excited for the summer of 2021. It's the sort of track you dream of dancing to with your friends whilst the sun slowly rises across the sea. I read that this track has been around since 2009 (making me 10 when this track first graced a clubs Soundsystem). It highlights Dominick Martin's enormous back catalogue of music that most artists would struggle to match.
Moving on to the second track and third track we have 'Years' and 'Latin 2000'. Just like the first track of the album, these highlight Calibre's abilities not only as a talented producer but as a truly talented musician. They call him the Music Man and once you reach this point of the album, I'm sure you'll know exactly why.
A lot of people would've been extremely excited to see 'Pillow Dub' appear on the album, I was indeed one of those people. Whilst listening to this long-awaited dub, I could literally envisage the hundreds of sound systems that the bassline will tear through once we're all allowed out again. I cannot stress enough the pure excitement I have to hear this tune grace the dancefloor. It's signature Calibre and that's why it's so good.
Deep, dark and a guaranteed dancefloor killer, you can't help but bop along to 'Guide You Through'. It gives you the feeling that this track is in fact guiding you through the album, giving a real change of pace from the previous tracks and sets you up perfectly for the rest of the journey into Shelflife Six.
Continuing with our voyage into the sounds of Calibre, 'Puppet, 'Trouble' and 'Crazy For You' provide some very steppy business. Eerie build ups filled with tension followed by huge basslines, it makes me even more upset that Calibre had to pull out of his set at Outlook 2019 last summer (yes, I am still upset eight months on). They're the sort of tunes that are made to be danced to at 4am in a field in the middle of nowhere, and that's what makes me love these three. Moving on we have 'The Goat', a fitting title for a song made by Drum & Bass' greatest artists of all time. A thumping kick drum accompanied with a heavy sub bass always creates the foundations for a great song to be built on top of it and the ninth track of the album certainly does this. I absolutely love the sense of space in this track and the use of percussion makes for this to be one of my favourites on the entire album.
As we dive into the deep end of this majestic ocean of an album, we return to the familiar sounds of Calibre that so many have fallen in love with over the years. 'Sense Soirée’ paints the picture of a stunning summer's day, driving down to the beach with this impeccable track pushing the car's speakers to levels of loudness that the manufacturers didn't intend for it to be cranked up to. For me this song is the masterpiece of the album. It made me feel warm inside whilst sitting in my bedroom, watching the rain run down my window during a nationwide lockdown. If that doesn't show the power and beauty that this album has gleaming out of it then I don't know what will.
As I mentioned, this album is a work of art and each production inside it offers something new and unique to the track before it. Listening through this album has been an absolute pleasure and if you haven't done so yourself yet then I couldn't encourage it more. Calibre is a master at what he does and this album, along with the many others he has crafted are what make him one of Drum & Bass' finest.