Shifted: Crossed Paths (Mote Evolver)
Every time I’m struck by how good a particular techno album is, it seems like a challenge to put it into words. After all, the basic framework of techno is relatively consistent, and it’s hard to describe why something transcends a checklist of factors and achieves something that’s actually moving and compelling, beyond mere utility. Shifted’s Crossed Paths is such an album, one that’s not only extremely well-made but also seems to be bigger than the sum of its parts. That he achieves this result without resorting to any emotional baiting and actually quite little melody at all is a testament to how physical yet subtle these tracks are, working especially well as an album in sequence. “Yearning” kicks things off with a looming sense of dread, all low-end drone and environmental racket. From there it’s a steady amp up in terms of tension and immediacy. None of the tracks here are overly aggressive, but there is an urgency to the repetition and persistence of many of the tracks. In this sense it reminds me of Luke Slater’s last Planetary Assault Systems album, wherein there is very little melody, and the emphasis on mood and rhythm is highly repetitive and mesmerizing. This is techno that need not apologize for being stripped down and sometimes severe, but with plenty of atmosphere to go around, sounding just as good on headphones as on a dancefloor. Crossed Paths is stunning from start to finish, probably a contender for techno album of the year.