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SHXCXCHCXSH:
SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs (Avian)

I
have to admit, their name is maddening (no doubt by design), but
SHXCXCHCXSH have been steadily releasing their own brand of
rough-around-the-edges experimental techno for a few years now,
perhaps even being the main attraction for Shifted’s Avian imprint. I
find myself enjoying this one better than most of their past efforts.
I’ve liked the overall aesthetic of the project from the start, but
I’ll admit that sometimes their tracks can leave me a little cold
(perhaps also by design). The cumulative playlist here (wherein each
subsequent track adds another “Ss” until the 15x of the title)
sounds a little more balanced to me, still crusty and gnarled at
times, but just as often beatless and loopy.

Many of the tracks are
also shorter, which avoids any single idea from overstaying its
welcome (though perhaps at times cut a bit short in the tradeoff),
and the album flows deftly from one cut to the next. But what I like
the most about this one is that over the span of these 15 cuts,
SHXCXCHCXSH have almost entirely broken free of dancefloor
convention. Compared to some of the fury of their early EPs, many of
these cuts feel sublime. At times they recall vintage industrial and
tape-looping music, but more often than not, these tracks feel like
they’ve wandered off into their own private creative playground.
Ninth cut “SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs” has some of the serious lurch of
recent Black Dog, but with the extra tooth and grit that is
consistent with the project’s repertoire. But for each of those more
metered cuts there is something as bizarre as the circular, staticky
throb of the eleventh cut or the subsequent backwards sampling. Only
three cuts on the album surpass the five-minute mark, which somehow
feels novel when albums seem to be getting longer and longer. As a
result, the patient stride of the thirteenth cut, the longest track
on the album, carries far more weight as a focal point. Between its
typically frustrating track titles and slippery sound, it’s difficult
to do the music justice here, but I find it one of the more
interesting and captivating electronic albums this year. Highly
recommended.

Buy it: Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon