- "It's puzzling to me that such an open, malleable form could produce what is, at times, a reactionary musical environment," Shawn O'Sullivan recently told Inverted Audio. He was talking about techno, the genre he's most closely associated with. But even if O'Sullivan considers the form limiting, he's found a way way to wring the most out of it. As a techno DJ, he plays a wide variety of styles: slamming '90s techno, hypnotic modern tracks in the vein of Mike Parker, post-punk and even gabber. His 400PPM project has a similar open-endedness that sets it apart from other material on Shifted's label, Avian.
400PPM is reserved for what O'Sullivan calls "scraping and droning sounds." As primitive as that seems, the music on Fit For Purpose has subtle features. That might have something to do with O'Sullivan's experiences in bands like Led Er Est and Further Reductions. His partner in the latter group, Rose E. Kross, appears on album highlight "New Expiration." The track has a post-punk feel—O'Sullivan said he was trying to rip off the band Chrome—yet the rigidity registers as full-on techno. Adding Kross's whispery vocals and the ominous background horns, he synthesises these genres effortlessly.
O'Sullivan is adept at making the darkest kinds of dance music feel lively and animated. He channels an unhinged Luke Slater on "Cladogenesis." "8.069" is rail-straight techno with an EBM edge. "Metabolic Grift"'s odd pitch-bent lead squirms against all the metal around it. "Fit For Purpose" has loud, unstable drones rarely heard in most techno. These tracks underscore his inventive approach to modern techno.
In the same interview, O'Sullivan said the album sought to explore "human-machine interfaces." Fit For Purpose shows a producer less inclined to ride a loop than get his hands all over it. With so many voice manipulations, bending melodies, distortions and broken drum patterns, Fit For Purpose sounds like someone not just using machines but harnessing their feedback, imperfections and possibilities.
01. Bølling Oscillation
02. Metabolic Grift
03. New Expiration feat. Rose E. Kross
04. Sintered Bauxite
06. Into the Heap
07. Fit For Purpose
09. Larsen C
10. Mauna Loa Lows