Review: Shifted - Under a Single Banner


It's the first notes of the opening of a long set that win me, that bind me in a nutshell and make me the king of infinite space - a space that expands so infinitely that the world disappears from my closed eyes and I submerge, my body sinking-swimming into the depths; the rhythm anchoring me in the set until it is time to resurface, letting the waves of the set wash through me.

Shifted's first track, “Core of Stone” does the same thing in, breaking me with a style “more skuffed and raw sounding," as he told Aaron Coultate in an RA interview. I am in this album, because he is not afforded the luxury of a club to capture me, with its spangled darkness to submerge me to the ocean bed where the music comes from.  The DJ is not present. We will not stare him down like Marina Abramovic as we move to his set. His art has to hold us, track after unmixed track. This he does like a master.

Rough sounds, steady rhythm, where are we going? Where is “Chrome, Canopy & Bursting Heart” (the second track) taking us, with its reverberating bass pounding deep and slow? What spaces will I find myself in with her, anchored to this album? This is one of those albums that will be listened to constantly in intimate spaces, for the composition is so good. And out of these spaces where we have made this album the soundtrack to our pleasures we will hear it, drifting by like submarine kelp as we swim our ways through long techno sets in our favourite clubs, awash with bliss at finding these sounds in another infinite space. This reclamation of tracks in another set is what I look forward to the most every time I hear an amazing album like 'Under A Single Banner'.

Track three, “Suspended Inside,” is the highlight of the album for me, with its highly complex percussive sounds mixed in such a frantic way, over-sating me through excessive stimulation. And when Shifted lets up, I am left only with memories as he peals back the layers like fragments of a remembered dream (perhaps of Jeff Mills, whose influence is most found in this track? Is this track a sophisticated Oedipal act?).

He holds us in suspension, atomic corpuscles flowing through arteries that contract and expand to the pulsing beat. I am suspended while this track is inside me, every movement profound, giving relief and tense agony simultaneously, keeping me on the edge of a wave that never breaks and only gets bigger. Who could mix this into a set without losing the the infinite scope this track has set? (Answer: Jeff Mills.)

This album is sparse; this album drives relentlessly nowhere. Its sound processing is complex; there is always something to discover in this repetitive landscape too, on “Burning Tyres”; on the frenetic “Pulse Incomplete,” which is like the soundtrack to a nervous breakdown – there is nothing to hang onto for safety; one can only ride out this track by letting it in and moving to it.

This will be the perfect dance track for serious technophiles. The last two tracks, “Story of Aurea” and “Wash Over Me”, do precisely that – and draw us back to sand at the edge of the sea to draw new faces, only to wash them away as Shifted's waves wash over me. This techno is truly great.

01. Core Of Stone
02. Chrome, Canopy & Bursting Heart
03. Suspended Inside
04. Under A Single Banner
05. Burning Tyres
06. Pulse Incomplete
07. Contract 0
08. Story Of Aurea
09. Wash Over Me