On his first instrumental album, Shadetek aims for the dancefloor but doesn't completely leave behind the grit that's shaped his current work.
With tropical influences propped up by a prominent low end, Flowers has Matt "Shadetek" Schell pushing almost exclusively upbeat tracks. There's a dance agenda on the producer's first instrumental album, but before this club-centric record came to fruition, Schell's output included noisy glitch, grime, hip-hop, dancehall, and most recently, a team-up mix album with DJ /rupture that the pair issued on their own Dutty Artz imprint.
Snaky synth leads and techy beats power funky house and garage tracks like "iHop" and "Funny Cats" on Flowers, and most of the record wouldn't have sounded out of place on the recent Fabric 50 mix from Martyn, at least the sections that steer to the floor. "Strength in Numbers" lags a bit compared to the rest of the set, but its hypnotic air and memorable stomp render it a biggie, even amid these more propulsive sounds. The brass blurts and halfstep punch, somewhat reminiscent of those on Skream's "Blue Eyez", also opened Shadetek and /rupture's Solar Life Raft in late 2009. "Strength" looks to the tracks that the New York native is lugging to sweaty Brooklyn nights of late, as well as to a long relationship in general with various UK-born electronic genres. Check Shadetek's brash 2006 Heavy Meckle mixtape, for one. It still plays like a crowded pirate radio session, and hosts a couple of the grime MCs who would end up a year later on the Sound-Ink-issued Pale Fire, an uncompromising crossroads of street bass and hip-hop that Schell co-produced with Zack Tucker as Team Shadetek.
Flowers' "Lily of the Valley" is softened with the sort of abruptly snipped strings that Schell would've packed into a riddim for North London's Skepta a few years back. They're better used here as a preface for the gummy bass lines that follow. It's serene and fittingly symphonic when all of "Lily's" singular flourishes to come together toward the finish, as if Schell has boiled-down a new classic, employing pieces from multiple "recent favorites" folders on his overworked hard drive.