Dubliner Marcus Lambkin, aka Shit Robot, has served quite an apprenticeship before finally releasing his first full length album, From The Cradle To The Rave. Lambkin began DJing in Dublin in the late 1980's before moving stateside and establishing himself as a player in the emerging punk-funk scene. A chance meeting with a pre-LCD Soundsystem James Murphy would lead to a creative collaboration and an invitation to the DFA records family - and this album is indeed something of a family affair with Murphy, as well as Nancy Whang, Juan MacLean and Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor all lending a helping hand.
Regardless of the extra personnel involved, this is very much Lambkin's work. From The Cradle To The Rave reflects Lambkin's 20+ year career and is a diverse collection of retro electro-house which sits comfortably among the more famous names in the DFA stable. Every one of the 9 tracks is thick with ideas, samples and calling cards from numerous different offshoots of the dance genre but, crucially, never does it feel overcrowded or needlessly dense.
The album is at its best when writhing in the darker, rawer elements of electro, with its hook-driven bass grooves taking centre stage and it's at these moments where Lambkin displays a pronounced flair equal to anyone making this sort of music today. However, occasionally you can't help but feel he takes a couple of wrong turns, such as the clunky segue between the grimy electro and dreamy house midway through I Got A Feeling. Nancy Whang's vocals on Take 'Em Up 2, much like Alexis Taylor's on Losing My Patients, are great fits and go to show that when Lambkin is able to marry a vocal performance to a groove he's able to come up with something special. A few times on From The Cradle To The Rave, unfortunately, it's either/or.
Calling this a 'new' album is something of a half-truth. Most of these tracks have been available in one form or another for some time now but only now have they been assembled together, which makes this feel like more of a greatest hits collection than anything else. Perhaps that explains the slight lack of cohesion that runs through the album but, as negatives go, that is a relatively minor one. It's obvious to hear that Lambkin has spent many an hour absorbing pretty much every movement the dance music has taken over the past couple of decades and The Cradle To The Rave, while some time coming, is a sturdy companion to anything that has come along during that time.