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Third outing for Swedish duo ticks all the right boxes

Even when you listen to twelve hours of music a day, appreciating what works and what doesn't still takes plenty of repeat listens. When it comes to electronic music, for me it comes down to appreciating balance; balance between confrontation and reassurance, brevity and protraction, joy and melancholy, melody and white noise. When the balance tips too far in any one direction the number of listens is affected (and when it comes down to it, it's the number of listens that truly reflects the success of an album, am I not right?).

Staying true to their experimental roots, Swedish duo SHXCXCHCXSH deliver a third album of near perfect balance; they particularly excel at balancing complex, monochromatic sounds, drenched in equal measures of texture, tension and melody. The fifteen tracks of SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs bring contrast, not specifically within individual tracks but as a sequence of tracks. For instance, out of context, SsSsSsSsSs (track 5), with it's monolithic, monotone beats could pass by with little fanfare but when sandwiched between the ghostly chords of SsSsSsSs (track 4) and the emotive bleeping of SsSsSsSsSsSs (track 6) it makes perfect sense.

My advice for the uninitiated: be prepared to relinquish control of your senses, be ready for assault from all angles; this is physical music. Like a Swedish massage, the moments of sonic clarity and passages of soothing melody juxtaposed with the blistering waves of distortion and dark beats make for a surprisingly cathartic experience.

8/10 after 12 listens



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