Team Shadetek, Jimmy Edgar and Chris Clark

By David Gunn

Of late, strange things have been happening in the Warp camp. The introduction of music download service, Bleep, increasing co-operation with smaller labels and the signing of an increasingly diverse group of artists seem to signify some change in emphasis on the part of this grand old label. But if the output of Team Shadetek is anything to go, it seems that perhaps they may be spreading their attention a little too thin.

For on basis of Burnerism and their recent performance at Wheels Instead of Hooves' Electrowerkz night, it's difficult not to come to the conclusion that Shadetek are simply not that good. All the ingredients seem to be in place – pedigree, endorsement from artists such as DJ /rupture, a highly-praised mixtape on Violent Turd and the presence of a ready-made gang of cool kids in the shape of Change Agent. But Burnerism is electronica by numbers. Each track follows pretty much the same structure – 1: establish a fairly solid but unimaginative hiphop beat; 2: either (a) tinker at the edges of it or (b) provide some grainy, bass-driven meanderings. Either way, it is tinkering without intent – there is no sense of dynamics, and no sense of where anything is going, or why its there in the first place. This becomes particularly clear in a live context – although exchanging hip hop hands and bouncing their heads, there was little for anyone to get excited about. And it was hard to escape the feeling they enjoy the fact they are doing this more than the actual act of creating stuff. Kinda like Gareth Gates' gurning face on Top of the Pops. Kinda like deliberately watching Stallone’s remake of Get Carter. There may be some moments of moderate interest but at its worst this is a parade of joyless, lugubrious sludge.

Okay, Team Shadetek are in a rather awkward position. Being on Warp isn't ideal, since the expectations are far higher than they would be otherwise – if this had come out of some obscure crevice then I might have been more favourable. But when you are sharing a label with the likes of Aphex and Squarepusher, you can't turn out this kind of stuff. And in fairness, judging from the rest of the recent night at the Electrowerkz, both Warp and Wheels remain on an even keen. In particular, Jimmy Edgar's performance after Shadetek provided a great combination of slithering, clicking beats and all manner of melody held down with an effortless swagger. Ultimately, maybe that is what it comes down to – whilst Edgar rolls out great tracks without seeming to try, Shadetek are perhaps just trying too hard.
 Team Shadetek played alongside Chris Clark and Jimmy Edgar.
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