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By Steve 'Habibi' Kelk


We wrote back in July about Centralian Hip Hopsters Skank & Shake’s album-in-perpetuityThe Long Road Ahead – Part 1’ and the epic, dopamine-dripping single ‘Embers’ that was released in July as part of this ongoing aural road-trip. The lads from Alice Springs have now followed-on with their concept of perpetual art and dropped ‘The Long Road Ahead- Part 2’ and the trip just keeps coming on stronger and stronger. If you thought you were peaking at the end Part 1, well lets just say that this stuff has got legs.

Featuring ‘Embers’ and a stash of other cosmos-traversing tracks, TLRA 2 continues thematically along the lines of self-awareness garnered from the vastness and openness of the desert and, well, from whatever else you might get your ‘clarity’ from on any given night out under the stars. They say that music is how we decorate time – This album is time decorated in the deepest of vibrant purple.

As we said of ‘Embers’ back in July: The track Embers evokes that elevated mental and spiritual state and sets the scene from the beginning, with a spacey and lightly glitched intro dissipating into a smooth, deep flow that needs no vocal aggression – that is not what this song is about. The slightly dissociative feel at the start dissolves into a relaxed but purposeful journey to growth and enlightenment – perhaps to reach whatever one recognises as their nirvana. It is a personal song in the sense that all such journeys are personal, but anyone open to such concepts can relate.”

There are ten tracks on TLRA 2, starting with the redemptive ‘Alone’, followed by ‘Deep’, a contemplative track dealing with fear and the power of music and friends to get you through (see video below). The spacey and thoughtful ‘Scars’ cautiously ascends through a long, sublime build-up to the plaintiveness of loss and the time it takes to heal. ‘Green Leaves’ talks of the relaxed energy that lingers after a successful live set, having stared down pre-gig nerves and later blazing a tribute to departed friends (a noticeable sub-plot to a lot of these tracks). ‘Night’ deals with the existential angst and contemplation that most young men will inevitably dwell on in the hours before the dawn, while ‘Dreamer’ is all about working shit out, facing yourself and your fears and accepting, embracing and following the life you chose – ‘Moleskin’, slightly more upbeat than the other tracks, continues this theme. ‘Sometimes’ again explores doubt, the unknown and choosing one’s path. ‘We Know It’ is a bit of honesty about Skank & Shake’s journey, falling down along the way and paying their dues.

Musically, most of the tracks on this album have that ethereal, otherworldly feel to it that keeps with the theme. There is a cool bass groove in ‘Embers’ that is truly inspired and steadfast keys throughout the album are used cleverly. Lyrically, it’s all a bit dark in places but it is meant to be – but always with hope on the horizon and keeping a stiff upper-lip to the travails of existence. Dan the Underdog features in this fine work, recorded and mixed by Shake and mastered by Rob Shaker at Shakedown Studios. The very apt cover art is by Tim Rossiter.

This is a contemplative work and not necessarily one that you will get up and dance to, at least not frenetically – more of a gentle sway round the campfire in deep thought, sharing some moments with close friends and remembering those no longer with us. It will stir emotions in the listener as all good art does. This second instalment of The Long Road Ahead is for belly-gazing and making peace with whatever spirit you’re down with. Your mind will dance while your eyes take in the stars.

The Long Road Ahead Part 2‘ is available from iTunes and Bandcamp.

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