Emotive and mechanical are by their very nature a contradiction in terms. For prolific German artist Shed however, the marriage of these terms feels easy and natural on latest outing The Killer.
Shed is just one of a stable of pseudonyms used by Rene Pawlowitz, but it’s under this moniker that he has previously released his most experimental, stylistic and compelling material. The Killer is no different. Despite specifically focusing this album on an exploration of techno, the resulting material proves Pawlowitz to be a true and unique talent unbound by genre.
Intro STP3/The Killer gives a glimpse of the recurring themes across the album: ethereal, enveloping melodies; purring, organic bass that swirls in and out of both ear and chest; and patterning that succeeds in engrossing, even at its most repetitive. Those familiar with previous releases Shedding The Past and The Traveller will struggle to read that as a change, but despite sharing hallmarks of past work, this is in many ways an evolved and altogether more polished product.
Tracks Silent Witness, I Come By Night, Day After and Ride On are characteristic of Pawlowitz. Percussion and synths alike splutter and fall all around your head, allowing themselves to be caught and ushered forward by huge, booming kicks. Instruments continually manifest themselves with splashes of colour, whilst the overall pallet of the track is monochrome. Ride On in particular is an intriguing listen; littered with nuance and attention to detail, but also a dancefloor destroyer. Elsewhere, Gas Up, The Praetorian and Follow The Leader demonstrate Pawlowitz has a penchant for engaging, attractive melody.
However, it’s where the two sides of this album combine that we get remarkable music. Phototype and You Got The Look are a harmonious pairing of electronic lullabies and cavernous drums, whilst V1OMF!/The Filler weaves a jazzy lead over a sharp drum break, leaving it sounding as at home in Berghain as it would in an East London warehouse. Good stuff.
Whilst unlikely to captivate a new audience, this should be considered essential listening for those with even a passing interest in Shed, 50 Weapons, Ostgut Ton et al. In some respects it is more-of-the-same, but when it produces quality tracks, who really cares?
Shed – The Killer drops July 27th