- While writing this review, I kept an eye on Shifted's Twitter account to get a sense of the man. I was surprised to see him tell a follower: "Lighten up, fella ;)" This exchange arose after Shifted had a Russian club gig broken up by balaclava-clad, gun-toting cops, which prompted fellow producer Violet Poison to ask: "What do you expect from an ex-KGB agent supported by neo-Nazis around the world..." Listening to Under A Single Banner, you'd guess Shifted, far from being the type to encourage anyone to lighten up, would have a similarly dystopian worldview.
For sure, there are moments of sonic elation on Shifted's second album, particularly in the playful percussion of "Suspended Inside" or "Contact O." And, of course, even the bleakest techno has a built-in cathartic function, an invitation to dance the pain away. But the overriding tone here is one of visceral anger and fear. The mood gradually lightens after the nuclear-winter opener, "Core Of Stone," but even the fizzing rhythms of "Pulse Incomplete" can't offset the monolithic kick drum beating glumly at it's heart. Dancing to that at 4 AM, there would be no escaping the sense of something terrible lurking beyond the club's doors, Russian riot police or not.
In private, perhaps Shifted is just a happy chap with an unusually keen interest in dark, granular techno. The anonymous producer certainly shows a masterful command of microscopic sonic details, not least sandpaper textures and the foggy, ominous bass tones that give techno depth and traction. "Burning Tyres" and the album's title track (during which a Thor-like hammer threatens to fall, but never does) both riff on fashionable post-punk / industrial sounds, but in their sparse, tribalistic way, conjure a sense of urban alienation that is genuinely horrific. Was that Shifted's intent? No matter. It's great art.
01. Core Of Stone
02. Chrome, Canopy & Bursting Heart
03. Suspended Inside
04. Under A Single Banner
05. Burning Tyres
06. Pulse Incomplete
07. Contract 0
08. Story Of Aurea
09. Wash Over Me