- If their last album was "deadly serious," by now Swedish duo SHXCXCHCXSH seem a bit more lighthearted. By their own admission, there's not even an easy way to refer to them (label boss Shifted prefers "the Swedish guys"). Luckily, SHXCXCHCXSH have already proven themselves. Last year's LP presented seven lengthy techno journeys that went beyond the horizon and back again. With Linear-S Decoded, they've opened up slightly—it's more tangential than their past work, but all the better for it.
Most of the tracks on Linear-S Decoded take one idea and let it ricochet through a set of parameters, sometimes aimlessly drifting, sometimes building up into a firestorm, and often presenting something surprisingly colourful. Few tracks make it past the four-minute mark, but the ones that do are quite memorable, like "Drain This Lord," with its crack-of-the-whip drums, or "This Hmming Raverie," which sends us tumbling down an uneven slope of Reese basslines.
It's hard to pick out highlights from an album that finds so many ways to stay interesting. There's the swamp techno of "Helical Dialog," which spirals like a fractal, or the driving and tense "Sunny Day In Ostrogothia," which is nowhere near as summery as its title would suggest. SHXCXCHCXSH take a detour into Shed-style reverie with the buoyant "The Under Shore," balancing its dancing breakbeat and blinding synths with bass notes that sound like they're trying to push you over. It's this sense of playfulness that elevates Linear-S Decoded, cutting through techno's serious pose with a dose of irreverence.
Even with that in mind, this is still one of the most ferocious and uncompromising techno albums you'll hear this year—SHXCXCHCXSH have just made it sound a bit friendlier with the loony disposition of '90s electronica rather than the corrugated textures of recent industrial techno. Whether they're surging through blackened tunnels of reverb and rumble or just bouncing along happily, SHXCXCHCXSH have found a way to make faceless techno fun.
01. Entering The S-Cloud
02. Drain This Lord
03. Wading Guise
04. The Roots
06. Helical Dialog
07. The Under Shore
08. The Repelling Of The Quantitative Invasion
09. A Sunny Day In Ostrogothia
10. Rudimental Retreat
11. This Hmming Raverie
12. Sub Mission - The Atlantic Vision
13. Monolithic Conclusion