Shelflife 3



by Eloriaz USER (9 Reviews)
March 24th, 2014 | 8 replies

Release Date: 03/24/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Crisp, elegant, and always focused, Shelflife 3 is business as usual for Calibre.

Few drum & bass artists have a catalogue as rich as Dominick Martin's, AKA Calibre. In fact, he is now a master of his craft and something of a groove alchemist. Since his very first album, the defining Musique Concrète, released in the wake of the century, his personal signature has evolved and been refined again and again, so much that it is difficult to hear a track of his and not guess by whom it was made. He's often had one foot in the lounge and another on the dancefloor, making tracks either for the thinking or the dancing man, gentle liquid affairs or "rollers" and "steppers", as one would say. He sometimes mixes his DnB with experiments in dubstep and downtempo, and occasionally provides his own vocals to his rhythms. Liquid, oh so liquid, clean-cut, generous, luminous and soulful, his drum & bass work finds itself in a perpetual quest of improvement. You will not see Calibre revolutionize his sound anytime soon, but one thing is for sure, he is insatiable in searching for the Holy Grail of grooves, drums and melodies. If you are looking for some of those sacred and life-changing Calibre tracks, here are just a few examples: the extremely funky 'Right Stuff', the delirious 'Inflicted', the uplifting 'Second Sun', the high clear speed of 'Out Of The Box', the contemplative 'Mirage', the crazed 'Foreign Bodies', and the fabulously majestic anthem 'Even If', which you need to hear at least once in your life. The list goes on and on, so let's leave it at that.

This is the third volume of the Shelflife series. This time it offers thirteen tracks. It is not exactly a studio album per se, because it is actually a compilation of older and unreleased tracks. As described on, "Calibre has gone through his hard drives, DAT tapes and even mini discs to find more gems for ‘Shelflife 3’. Thirteen of his most requested unreleased productions from 1997 to 2013 are now released on Vinyl, CD and Digital formats." Like a gold digger, Calibre flips through the pages of his catalogue and makes an exhibition of some rare and unknown nuggets. This makes for a golden hot pot which is surprisingly coherent from beginning to end. In fact, the tracks have been remastered so well that Shelflife 3 (and the two others before) doesn't sound like a compilation. It's business as usual for Calibre indeed.

Shelflife 3 is a little less exuberant and perhaps more atmospheric than its predecessor, the thick and double-CD Shelflife 2, which contained many feverish rollers ('All The Days', 'Mindprint', 'Lazy Rock', 'Half Full') and very dubby pieces ('The Cage', 'Overeaction Dub'). If I were to compare it, I would say Shelflife 3 is generally in the same vein as the more relaxing and softer tracks found on Condition and Spill, his LPs of 2011 & 2013 respectively. Still, don't worry if you are looking for some proper "Calibrerian" bangers: as always, there are several in here. Either way, you will find on Shelflife 3 the key characteristics of Dominick Martin's drum & bass: melodious, precise, emotional, pensive, liquidliquidliquid, classical but sometimes tribal & exotic, and so forth.

'The Wash' starts off Shelflife 3 with a beautiful wave of atmosphere. Drums are rich and crisp; bass is enveloping; colours flourish. All good in the hood. Quality will not falter. 'Honey Dew' comforts the soul with gentle drums, piano notes and a flute-like melody. 'Makes Me Feel Alright', one of the best tracks off this, mixes an expressive vocal sample with melodious and crystalline bursts, the kind of uplifting combination Calibre ridiculously excels at. The bass on 'Instant' takes a little stab at neurofunk, whilst sharing the room with wonderful pauses of atmosphere. 'Sagan', a serious banger, surely the most danceable track, rolls in spectacular fashion. An addictive synth riff accompanies metallic drums and twisting sounds. It keeps the Calibre signature well on the dancefloor. Further, the bass-laden amen breaks of 'To And Fro' whirl around, supported by light snippets of melody. 'Erode' wraps up the album in a very emotional way, filled with the sound of departure and farewell, though inspiring the listener with a swift look to the horizon.

Needless to say, Shelflife 3 is a welcome addition to Calibre's work, as is the custom. If I am not mistaken, Dominick Martin is still the most or one of the most prolific drum & bass artists out there, with now 11 LPs (!) under his belt. The man is still young as well. Who knows what will come next? Where will his sonic quest lead us? How many grooves still hide in his spirit? Here's hoping for maybe two or three more Shelflife, and a fruitful streak of future albums to satisfy my DnB thirst.

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user ratings (6)

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 24th 2014


Sup guys! In the midst of university work, Counter-Strike games and listening requirements for Why I Love Electronic Music Part 2, I just wanted to review some new Calibre and give him a thread on Sputnik. I am returning to English for obvious reasons (Calibre doesn't have a lot of visibility in here, etc.). Hope it doesn't have too many grammatical mistakes!

Great album, as always. Calibre is to drum & bass what The Chemical Brothers are to dance music: absolutely vital and really one of the greatest.

'The Wash' (excerpt):
'Makes Me Feel Alright':
'Sagan' (excerpt):
'To And Fro':

Digging: Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

March 24th 2014


Only heard Spill from him but that's a fucking amazing album, should check this out

March 24th 2014


Wait, this is new? Didn't know he had new stuff coming out

March 24th 2014


Yes it's new! =)

If you loved Spill you will probably also love Condition and Even If! The title
track on the latter is, like, best drum & bass track ever material.

Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2014


Album Rating: 3.9 | Sound Off

My only real problem with this LP is the ordering of the tracks themselves. First half is typical Calibre liquid (which means it's of a quality infinitely better than 99% of what's out there) but he only starts to mix it up in the 2nd half (he finally released 'Sagan'!!)

That, and the tunes with DRS are not the best Calibre beats that DRS has been a part of

March 25th 2014


Yeah, 'Sagan' is really awesome! It might be my favorite from this. Along with 'The Wash' and 'Makes
Me Feel Alright'.

Agreed about DRS, the tracks he did with him on Condition were a little bit better (especially
'People Never Change', breathtaking opener).

This is a tad underwhelming when you compare it to Shelflife 2, but it's still quality
Calibre and there are some great surprises ^_^

March 26th 2014


oh, nice to see some Calibre here!

I must say that I also like the review quite a bit: you can write a good, interesting read without being weirdly conceptional ;-)

Digging: Forest Swords - Compassion

March 26th 2014


Thanks! :-)

Disappointed to see that Calibre is really unknown around here, though I shouldn't be surprised because Sputnik doesn't really dig drum & bass. I wonder why.....

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