Shed: The Killer (50 Weapons)
René Pawlowitz dons his Shed moniker once again, this time for a new full-length on Modeselektor’s previously mysterious 50 Weapons label. Initial releases on 50 Weapons were practically anonymous, but over time the label has donned its own identity and begun releasing more traditionally packaged music. Shed is a fairly high profile act as far as underground techno goes, and it makes sense that he found a home here; while his music often is no nonsense techno, he’s also prone to exploring less obvious areas of dance music as well as more atmospheric tracks. I’m not sure what I expected from the album, but it’s not what I expected. However, the album has a nice trajectory to it, and a keen sense of momentum. “Silent Witness” is a nice off-kilter rhythm track to get things moving after the ambient first cut, while “I Come By Night” could pass as a Perc track with its grimy kick and industrial synth washes. Some of my personal favorites include the nonsense cut-and-paste vocal groove of “Day After,” the radiant rapid-fire sounds of “You Got the Look,” and the jaunty house organ riff of “The Filler” – if it were any sooner in the playlist, “The Filler” would sound out of place, but after the darker and less melodic stretch of tracks that precedes it, it seems to make sense to me. “Follow the Leader” is even more jazzy with a broken beat and piano arrangement to close things out, a curious choice after the more industrial sounds of the majority of The Killer, but again, somehow it works for me as a nice denouement. What’s perhaps most refreshing about The Killer is that despite being a techno album, it’s not really all that friendly for the dancefloor, at least not in the usual predictable ways. There’s rarely a steady 4/4 kick, and even the broken beat tracks are usually half as punchy as they typically would be — see “Phototype”’s delayed kick-kick snare-snare loop for reference, one that is likely mixable but a bit leftfield for most floors. Still, it’s these sidesteps that make the album interesting and less predictable, two qualities that are never a bad thing when it comes to techno full-lengths.