Midnight Mountain by SHAO
Eastern Dub Techno
Chinese sound artist SHAO (Shao Yanpeng) has kept a low profile up to now but the astute will remember his contribution to Tresor's Dreamy Harbor compilation. He actually released an album and EP (both called Doppler Shift) with Tresor back in 2018 and 2015 respectively and, between 2005-11, he used to run with the name Dead J, making an intriguing form of IDM-tinted Techno.
Since the Doppler Shift releases his sound has dallied with a fairly standard style of Techno: inoffensive but boundaries intact. New album Midnight Mountain though shifts sideways with a wider outlook, acknowledging his earlier experimental work, by playing with subtly varied rhythms and sounds, while observing recognised Dub and Techno traits.
On many tracks Yanpeng demonstrates a keen knack for building an addictive rhythm, forcing an involuntary head-nod on the listener while keeping them knee-deep in interesting texture and tension. Bubble V3 and Blurry Horse are perfect examples of this, although Midnight Shift is a highlight with its twinkling notes and reliable 120BPM groove. Using intro and outro tracks certainly enhances the sequence flow but halfway through he confounds with Dream +, a delicate electronic vignette that slows things to a contemplative lope. Doing things differently nearly always works.