Monday, 17 September 2012

Review: Shed - The Killer

Apparently, Shed's new album The Killer sounds a lot like his previous albums. I wouldn't know, because I haven't heard either of them (gasp!), and although I could bullshit you with some vague implication to the contrary (Berghain! Output! 2008!), that's not my style. So I'm one of the few reviewers out there who's going into this album without reference to his previous work. So Shed fans: this review ain't gonna tell you much. Although let's face it, Shed fans have already heard the album and if they're reading this at all it's probably because they're looking for other people on the Internet to validate their opinions.

As someone free of Shed-knowledge, this album should sound fresh to me. And it does. I've heard Shed's sound described as "crunchy", "bathometric" and so on, which makes sense. Funnily, the record I'm most reminded of when listening is Leftfield's 1999 album Rhythm & Stealth, which featured similar thunderous genre-bending techno material. The ambient timbres on opener STP3/The Killer also remind me of Snakeblood, Leftfield's contribution to the soundtrack of Danny Boyle's The Beach. Have a listen for yourself on Youtube and decide if you think I'm chatting total horseshit or not. Also, I've just noticed that the cover art is vaguely reminiscent of the iconic woofer from the cover of Leftism, albeit without those famous shark teeth.

Anyway, near as I can work out, Shed specialises in well-engineered, booming and somewhat experimental techno, unorthodox in construction but still feeling heavy enough for a dancefloor. He likes breakbeats and odd spoken vocal loops, and occasionally he dips into UK-future-post-step influences, as is the law these days if you want Resident Advisor to pay attention to your release.

But while I respect the individual sound of his music (even if other reviews suggest he's content to repeat much of it), little to nothing about this album honestly stimulated me very much. There's a sterility about most of these tracks - they all have some memorable loop or element or somesuch, but none of these earworms are particularly things I want stuck in my head. I always hate saying things like this, but I honestly struggle to imagine anyone getting any kind of strong emotional reaction out of these tracks, and while they certainly have a warehouse-ready heaviness to their sound design there's none of the genuine sweat-dripping energy or rave spirit of '90s techno. I can respect what Shed does here, but I honestly can't get remotely excited about it. I'll stick to my Leftfield, I guess.

Genre: Techno
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 6/10


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