Shackleton & Wacław Zimpel ft. Siddartha Belmannu

In The Cell Of Dreams

A collaboration between the Polish musician, Lancastrian producer and Kanadiga vocalist proves a balm for Julian Marszalek

Speaking with tQ six years ago, Polish musician and producer Wacław Zimpel said: “I want to dive into Indian music culture because it’s so fascinating. I’m still studying it and want to find out more about their rhythm systems.” While it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll ever work with his Indian project, Saagara, again – and the hope is that he does – this, his second collaboration with dark ambient electronics producer Shackleton, makes a move in a similar direction as the pair hook up with Hindustani classical music vocalist Siddartha Belmannu. Consequently, the trio have fashioned an album that feels more like a melting pot of styles, traditions and influences than a collision of ideas.

Thoroughly immersive throughout, In The Cell Of Dreams simultaneously demands your attention while putting the ego to bed for a nap. Based around the international language of the drone, the meditative and healing properties of the record are evident from the off. This is music that beckons, calls and welcomes those attuned to this panacea and in the process blocks out the white noise and bullshit of the outside world.

The 21-minute opener ‘The Ocean Lies Between’ is a subtle exercise in aural seduction. The initial gongs and modular sweeps give way to Siddartha Belmannu’s tremulous voice, but he’s far from timid. Like his musical collaborators, his skill is in reeling the listener in as the soothing sounds and drones around him weave a hypnotic and beguiling magic.

The bizarre squalls of Zimpel’s processed alto clarinet and instrumental pile-up that rise gently yet forcefully on ‘Everything Must Decay’ feel like a purge of dark emotions and thoughts where the trio make you work for the peace that’s to follow. There are no easy rides here, but the journey is worth it. Crucially, by extending their explorations without keeping and eye on the clock, Shackleton, Zimpel and Belmannu open a world of possibilities that invites self-analysis, acceptance and a sense of calm that feels more like a ceasefire than surrender. This is re-calibration and re-charging.

The shortest track is ‘Your Love Pours Like Water’ but even at under four minutes, the trio pack in a concise gem that takes in vocal loops and synth waves to offer contemplation while preparing for the extended excursions to come. More importantly, In The Cell Of Dreams is a glorious exchange of ideas from disparate sources that requires and offers the gifts of time, reflection and healing. And that’s a rare and precious reward.

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