Review Summary: Marvelous.
Is there such a thing like glitch-techno? Probably not, but it would be the best term to describe Xhin's second album Sword
. Most of the tracks sound like if Autechre decided to tone down the weirdness, sped things up, and kept for once the beats steady. The result is a very intense album, with pulsating layers of sound crawling in the mix, creating a net effect of sheer addiction. Once the music takes possession of the speakers, it refuses to leave until the barrage of energy fade out with the atmospheric closer "This is What You Drew While You Were Half Asleep". This Singaporean producer clearly goes for a powerful sound that is also sophisticated, a sound that strikes your senses but also reaches for the brain. The opening combo of "The Secret Closet"/"Fox & Wolves" condenses the album's whole aesthetic: the former is an abstract and hypnotic minimalistic track, representative of record's most experimental side; the latter features throbbing beats, a deep bass line and odd sounds pullulating all over the place, not unlike an infectious, hard-to-resist dance of atomic particles. This explosive formula is successfully explored throughout the record, towards the end slowly evolving into a more typical techno sound, effectively cooling down the pace and preparing the listener for the finale.
It is clear that Sword
is not a conventional techno album. It does not reject the allure of the power and simplicity delivered by techno music, but Xhin is not afraid of experimentation and of throwing in some curve balls, shaping and reaffirming his own style. Sword
displays superb production, powerful and interesting compositions, and a refreshing approach to techno music. The midpoint reached between aggressiveness and refinement makes this record a very stimulating experience. Lee Xhin is an artist to look for in the electronic scene, and this release confirms it.