- When it comes to cutting-edge club music, The Astral Plane mix series is one of the best sources. Outside of those podcasts, they've put out a few digital compilations that featured artists like Victoria Kim and Celestial Trax, and now they have a proper record label with Astral Plane Recordings. The first release is an auspicious one, though it comes from a relative unknown: Lausanne-based, British-born SHALT, who previously appeared on the obscure Clubwerks label and contributed a track to Astral Plane's most recent compilation. SHALT is just the kind of artist you'd want to inaugurate your label. He deals with current sounds and structures but avoids obvious references, digging his heels into a sci-fi world that feels unfamiliar.
As soon as Acheron begins with its title track, something's off. The synths are gritty and decayed, revealing their blemishes, while bits of debris break off the drums every time they land. It sounds futuristic, but it also sounds old. The EP was inspired by Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books, but Acheron reminds me of George Lucas's early vision for the Star Wars universe. He wanted a "used future," where all that new-fangled technology looked as worn and scuffed as any well-used machine. That is Acheron's most distinct trait.
Like any good sci-fi, lots of Acheron is mind-bending, even when it's dealing with familiar concepts. SHALT turns techno inside-out on "The Treatment," where drums constantly jump and skip outside the lines, while "Unconfined" tackles Tessela-style breakbeats with low-end that could collapse a ceiling. "Hypermalthusian" cobbles together a drum pattern so broken that it's hard to follow, especially while synth leads dive-bomb around it. This is an innovative debut with an appetite for destruction.
03. The Treatment