SHXCXCHCXSH - OUFOUFOF
Stepping out of the comfort zone of their celebrated back catalogue of experimental melody making, the Swedish duo SHXCXCHCXSH have shifted focus on their fourth album OUFOUFOF to rhythm. They phrase it "conceptual" rhythm but I prefer "arresting" or perhaps even "unyielding" rhythm. Ultimately, we're bequeathed eight seriously challenging tracks, composed primarily of well-oiled drum workouts, that declare the death of SHXCXCHCXSH. SHXCXCHCXSH is dead, long live the new, conceptual SHXCXCHCXSH.
Drawing parallels with Shaking the Habitual, the fourth album from The Knife, where the Swedish siblings presented an uncompromising statement on the status of their musical minds at the time, this, on the back of their three previous, melodic albums, is easy. Both duos bravely flying the flag of conceptual art. Back in 2013, I said that "art defeated entertainment", the fine line between enjoying and appreciating was crossed.
SHXCXCHCXSH set out to create music for the club but not with the usual 4/4 approach:
…the main focus being our relationship with the dancers' minds and how we do our best to fuck with them.
These tracks will literally destroy all dancefloors. Time to go home. Like a 3am car alarm, sixth track UFOFUOFU will test the endurance limits of the hardiest Techno soul, its cacophonous din slowly, rhythmically, inducing a dull throbbing ache in the soberest of minds. Second track FFUFFUFU couldn't be a clearer, coy f...fuck you, taking Techno back to its original intent by stripping out everything except the rhythm.
Largely bereft of melody there's little to latch onto... but there's plenty to admire. While the beats can be unrelenting in places, the process of layering textures and manipulated sounds, a key signature in their previous work, remains intact. The quality of the drum programming is unquestionable. And after a few listens, a hint of magic begins to manifest. The sparks don't ignite though. Their reputation can carry them only so far in the cut-throat world of music entertainment. Like The Knife, who opted for art, SHXCXCHCXSH have followed suit with a bold leap into scary new territory: the art world; the long-term result of which remains unknown.
- Rating: 5/10
- Listens: 6
- Label: Rösten
- Release Date: 5th November 2018 (vinyl) and 12th November (digital)